It’s not often that I get caught short in public with a fly-by hypo which comes from no-where and knocks me off my feet. And it is even less often that I forget to stock up my hypo treatments after a previous low. Mainly because I often keep hypo treatments stashed in all sorts of places like some sort of sugar-worshipping hoarder, including every handbag I own, the glovebox in the car, and even my sock drawer! But being human and being someone who has had T1 diabetes now for over 24 years, it is easy for me to wave my hands in the air and admit that sometimes, it happens.
Well this weekend in happened. As many of you will know, hot weather poses a bit of a dilemma for diabetics in that it seems to make – for some unfathomable reason – injected insulin much more effective. ‘That’s good’, you might think. But unfortunately the heat does this rather unreliably so and often when you don’t see it coming, possibly because the heat and tiredness that can come with it can mimic the early stages of a hypo itself. So this weekend when I was not only out in the sun thanks to a lovely weekend away visiting my aunt with my mother-ship, I was out of my routine, eating unusual food and getting a bit more exercise than I normally would. I knew all along that lows were going to happen. That was just a given.
But what I wasn’t expecting when I had my low, which happened to be in public and only shortly after the devouring of my last few Dextrose tablets, was the reaction that my mother would get after asking if she could jump a queue at a coffee bar as her daughter had diabetes and she needed to get her some juice. Now normally the other people in the queue could be expected to be the ones who would be the ones likely to cause a fuss. We are all thirsty and we all want a drink in the hot weather. Most people don’t recognise or understand the urgency for treating a hypo, because other than someone looking a bit confused, there aren’t a huge amount of physical signs.
But despite being told to go ahead in the queue by all the waiting customers, the persons whose reaction was most surprising and in my perhaps hypo-clouded eyes unacceptable, was the girl at the till. Apparently my mothers request meant she no longer needed to make eye contact, and could get away with speaking to my mother as though she – and I – were inconveniencing her no end.
Newsflash sweetie, diabetes inconveniences me too. And a damn site more than you, I would imagine.
I understand that not everyone ‘gets’ the importance of treating a hypo immediately. In fact most don’t even know what a hypo is. And I understand that jumping a queue to buy a drink in the hot weather looks odd. But if you asked someone to use their chair if they were asthmatic, or asked to give up your seat on a bus because a pregnant lady with pain needs to sit down, you would. Without question. Why serving someone for a drink they need because of life or death can be an inconvenience is quite frankly beyond me.
It is true that we need to educate people about diabetes, its symptoms and all that comes along with it. But this experience showed me that in some cases, we need to educate people about manners and common sense first and foremost.
This post is dedicated to the girl who works in that bar, who for just an instant had an opportunity to pay attention and take in a message, and who chose not to take it. This one’s for you.