How open are you

I was wondering how “open” people are about their diabetes? It seems harder to conceal when you have an insulin pump. I used to be nervous about it, now I find it a good way to educate people. I can’t count the number of times people have made stupid comments like “Well if you just stop eating sugar, or loose a few pounds, you will be fine”.

Also, do people treat you different when they know? I hate to say it, but I find more than not, people do. Especially if they see meet anything with sugar.


I am very open with my pump. If I am encountered with a stupid comment, I use that time to educate them properly regarding the disease the Lord blessed me with. Keep in mind ignorance is bliss. Most of the ignorance is just due to not being properly educated and exposed to the issue at hand. I’ve dealt with lots of ignorance. It just isn’t towards diabetes. I also wear hearing aides in both ears so I hear wow you really are messed up or they want to yell rather than realize Hey I CAN hear you, these help me do so. Just educate others, if one diabetic takes time to educate atleast one person, pretty soon everyone will be well educated!

I’m very very open… I use MDI and I am not bashful about injecting at the table or anything like that. I usually offer some to everyone as a joke. One caveat - you gotta be careful whipping it out around children; they need to be exposed, but in an educational way.

I think it depends on how you handle it. I don’t let diabetes slow me down, so I try not to be perceived as if it does. One of the first things I say is that “I’m healthy, my body just doesn’t produce insulin” or something like that.

I tend to not be very open about it. For example, when I started a new job I told my boss and another coworker that I had diabetes just in case, in the unlikely event, they found me passed out or acting very strange so they would know what to do. But I don’t advertise the fact that I have diabetes to other coworkers. Maybe I’m wrong but I think people tend to view people with chronic diseases as generally sickly and not capable of functioning at a “normal” level. People see me as a hard worker and avid cyclist in good health doing 100 mile rides. Nobody really notices the pump. They think its a phone or beeper. Then many months will go by and someone eventually will ask about it. They are shocked when they find out I’m diabetic. I tell them I’m happy to discuss any questions they may have about. Once the cat is out of the bag, word spreads in the department but people then see me in a more positive way. I’ll even have people come by my office and share their stories about family or friends they know with diabetes or ask advice.

At first I was careful who I told. Now, being a certified diabetes educator, it helps my patients to know that I live with this also and have some tricks of my own to share and am also willing to learn from them. I think most people see me as very healthy because I am.

I blurp it out right away with no regret. Some folks are scared about it and i explain, i am under control. But most times people are very appreciative. I hate to tell some one as I descend into a deep low. Oh by the wa…y…i…a…m LOW.


Rick Phillips

Hi all.
I do not share the fact that I am a type 2 unless the circumstances or conversation suggests it is the natural thing to do. We all have many different facets of our lives that we do not share unless the need arise. However, sharing an unsteady (highs and lows) medical condition may be a good thing to do if we think others may have to come to the rescue if we have an uncontrollable event. In that case there is particular need to share your personal medical condition.

My pump is usually visible, so I’m pretty open about my diabetes in that way. I don’t mind people asking me questions. People frequently ask what my pump is. When I’m in a new environment, I usually inform a few people that I am diabetic in case of an emergency, but I don’t bring the subject up all the time. However, I try to let people know I’m comfortable with talking about it and answering questions.

I do find that many people act nervous (at least at first) when they know I am diabetic. I’ve had people freak out when I eat something they think contains “too much sugar” for me or if it has been a while since I’ve eaten. I think these are excellent “educational moments,” but they can be frustrating for me.

So, I guess I’m somewhere in the middle in regards to my openness. I believe it’s important for diabetics to have some information ready in case people ask questions (to help squash some of those annoying misconceptions).


I don’t hide anything either. I got my pump in April, but before that (before I retired) my co-workers knew. We sat down at our departmental office staff meeting and I outlined what they should do if I started acting “freaky” or passed out. (There were only a few of us.) They all seemed to take it in stride and wanted to cooperate. I even had my boss on the alert and he sometimes noticed before I did and would pop a soda on my desk!

When someone asks me about my pump, I tell them. I pull it out of the case and say, “See, and it’s even my favorite color … purrrrrrrrrrpull!.” It lightens up the situation and I have not sensed anyone responding negatively. If you ask me, more and more people are more and more aware. They don’t condemn me.

Lois La Rose
Milwaukee, WI

The pump actually allows me to be more discreet about my diabetes. I keep it tucked in a pants pocket most of the time and only pull it out to respond to an alarm or give a bolus. I only wear it visible to others on beach/pool days, and even then I am often able to tuck it down under the waistband of my swimsuit bottoms. I hate the ignorant comments I get from people who just assume I can control diabetes with diet and exercise (I am Type 1 - no diet is going to fix this!) and I have two little kids I have to chase around, so not a lot of time to educate random folks I encounter. My close friends know about my diabetes, and that is about it. If people ask, I talk about it, but I am definitely more comfortable concealing my pump and going on my way.

I applaud folks who are open about diabetes, but I just really like to blend in. I did finally order a medic alert bracelet, though, so I guess I am gonna have to start answering some questions when folks start seeing me wear it…

I don’t walk around with a megaphone announcing that I have Type 1 diabetes but I don’t hide it either. If I lived in worry about what people thought about what I said or did I wouldn’t bother to leave the house.
Ignorant comments are an opportunity to educate.

ig⋅no⋅rant [ig-ner-uhnt] –adjective

  1. lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned: an ignorant man.
  2. lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact: ignorant of quantum physics.
  3. uninformed; unaware.
  4. due to or showing lack of knowledge or training: an ignorant statement.

I do not hide it in the least. That being said, I remember, as a teen, I worked as a paralegal (long story - early graduation) for an estate lawyer who was Type 1 - he shot up all the time, everywhere, dropped his needles everywhere (and he smoked - his yellow stained fingernails - I’ll never forget him or it - God rest his soul). That really turned me off, of course, not being safe to just drop everything.

And I swore when I became diabetic and took insulin that I would be private. When I first took insulin, I was pregnant and staying at home. It was easier for me to conceal my diabetes, but choose when and where I wanted to share it.

Now that I’m working full-time, and have been for the past 8 years, it isn’t as easy. There are times I have to test, or take a shot, or just ask to use the bathroom or eat - from my employer, from my students, from my colleagues - and I just do it. People who know me and are around me understand, but the first time someone sees me taking out my meter and testing, some people cringe.

I have to remember that not everyone is at grips with this thing like I am - and that’s where education comes in.

I have found that as well. However, the first time I divulged to my employer and my colleagues that I had diabetes, and then they saw me testing or shooting up - they constantly ask me if I’m ok. I had one of my colleagues even come into the room to me testing and tell everyone in the room to ssshhh - because I needed quiet to test my blood! :slight_smile:

I don’t make any effort to hide it. On the other hand, i don’t introduce myself as Terry, the type 1 diabetic.

The 2 points you made about people’s reaction when they know, are why I do not tell many people. I know it is potentially dangerous, but I keep my diabetes to myself.

I am very open about my pod…My co-workers all know, and they understand what to do for me if I need help. Non-diabetics I think are actually scared of the factthat it could be them becoming diabetic. I have educated many people about diabetes and all the alternatives to treatment. Once people understand, they respect what we go through!

I very much appreciate the educating that you all do. I wish I was less shy about it. I worry that I am not articulate enough to educate and that I would most likely just get angry. I have not had to face too many comments other than the stray “should you be eating/drinking that? You better be careful!” I’d just rather not have to justify my behavior to others.

Thanks for all the responses! It is always nice to hear about how other people deal with things, or hear that other people have the same issues! You guys rock! THANKS!

I am completely open about my diabetes. I’m clearly not chronically ill, so I think trying to hide it would be more uncomfortable than not! If someone asks what I’m doing when I check my sugar, I tell them. If someone asks about my wires, or the bump on my abdomen, I tell them. To me, it seems silly to hide it- it’s just a part of my life!

Hmmm… I guess I’m quite open. I don’t announce it randomly or anything but like today someone offered me a choco. chip cookie and I just said, “Not right now thank you, my sugar doesn’t need it. I’m diabetic.”

Usually, if I tell people I’m diabetic, they’ll ask questions and it’s kind of nice to be able to talk to people. Not too many people give negative comments, or jump on and be the “food police” the next time they see me but that does happen occasionally.

I also like that if people know, then I’m more free to take shots in public (although most people don’t pay too much attention and I don’t advertise that I’m taking my shots). :slight_smile: