Miss Manners (& her T1 son) Responds


OP, did you have an opinion on this yourself?

Personally, I found this article total double speak nonsense. "It was written by her son who is a T1 himself so they are not ignorant". Ok, does this make your opinion better or worse? "He himself checks his blood sugar in public". So why is he recommending that "to be polite" people scurry off to the bathroom? And finally, my personal favorite: re-writing history. "We never said that". (And then re-printing the article in which they clearly do "say that". ) At that point I clicked my "x".

The problem with saying that their piece was just trying to encourage people to be discreet is that I don't know many T1 diabetics who aren't discreet. Other than elderly people who might make a big production of setting all their equipment out on a table, wiping their finger with alcohol, and so on, I think most diabetics try to make their testing or other diabetes-related tasks as quick and unnoticeable as possible.

And this:

The technology associated with diabetes is fast approaching this standard, although Miss Manners draws the line at drawing blood. Restrooms exist to provide a proper location for such necessary activities when away from home, and those who use them have no business monitoring the respectable, if sometimes unaesthetic, activities of others.

How can you possibly read that as anything other than encouraging people to do their blood testing in a restroom? That is FAR different than saying, "Test in public, even on a plane, but do it as discreetly as possible." Maybe it's just a poor use of language, but for someone who has built a career based on writing, I don't think that's much of an excuse.

I am surprised by the revelation that the original column was actually written by a T1D. I accused the writer of the original column (I thought it was Miss Manners, Judith Martin, and not a ghost writer!) as being ignorant. I still think the original piece could have been more clear on balancing the social tension between taking care of your important health needs and some of the public's fears about needles and blood. The T1D son's actual sentiment about usually testing in his airplane seat did not come through in the original column.

Finally, I've had some experience with writing for publication. Editors and copy editors can and do make cuts and changes just before publication. Last minute edits by someone ignorant about diabetes may have played some role here.

In light of this new info, I would not take the stance I did originally. The Martin's choices made in the original column share responsibility here. I can only hope that their column in the future can play a role to help the public become better informed about what we struggle with every day.

If you read the comments on the original post, most of them are in support of diabetes and many of those who are not learn something and change their mind after people reply. This doesn't often happen with articles about diabetes. So, in a sense I would say that the article did do some good and get some meaningful conversations going among the general public, even though I still disagree with the article itself.

I, too, am interested in the original poster's opinion.

Hi Jen. I don't want to come across as overly-sensitive, but I want to point out that at the age of 83, Type 1 on MDI, I never ever use anybody's restroom to either test or inject. I am discretion itself in my seat at a restaurant or plane or anywhere else. I hope I'm typical.

Sorry, I didn't mean that as a stereotype!!! My apologies! I just meant the only people I have ever seen to not be discreet have been elderly people with diabetes who (at least the ones I've seen) need help testing and/or follow 1-2-3 step type instructions and are very meticulous about it. I absolutely didn't mean to imply that everyone over a certain age is like that. Upon reflection, young kids who get help testing are also not very discreet. :)

I also think that anyone, discreet or not, has the right to test in public as long as they are not getting blood everywhere while doing it. Heck, I'm probably less discreet than most because I physically can't keep supplies under a table at all times—I have to bring them up close to my face to see them (but I do try to do the actual injection or finger poke under a table or otherwise blocked by my body). If people are right next to me I do tend to warn them, and they can always look away.


"Other than elderly people who . . ."

Oooooh. :)

Sorry, I know there was no stereotyping intended. But in a discussion about proper use of language, I couldn't let that just slip by. LOL

Okay, maybe I am totally ignorant here, but I am in my early 30s and, if this is a negative term, I wasn't aware of it. If it is, I'll be sure not to use it again.

(This is why I don't freak out when people use some "improper" term to refer to people with visual impairments. Like my favourites, "visually handicapped," "visually challenged," and "sightless," etc. Most people just don't know that these terms are perceived negatively by the group they're referring to.)

Hi Jen, I don't consider "elderly" to be a negative term; I think it's a common term. I wasn't at all upset by what you said, I was just in the mood to respond. I think that David(dns) was just trying to clarify to what I was responding; I should have indicated that myself.

I know what you mean about the terminology re visual impairments. My daughter is severely impaired visually, and I have no idea how to talk about it. I read all your posts/blogs on the subject to learn what I can.

Hmm, I'm actually working on a blog post about terminology (among my 30 or so posts in progress!). Maybe I'll try and finish it so I can post it next (haven't updated my blog in weeks and weeks!).

LOL. There's been a lot of language-misunderstanding-and-clarifying going on here the past few days. :)

ROFLMAO. Hoist with my own petard! Now it's my turn to clarify what I meant. (Isn't language FUN?)

I don't consider the term "elderly" the least bit pejorative. The phrasing just struck me, in context, as slyly insinuating that only elderly people are guilty of the behavior described. Which we all know ain't so.

Just wordsmithing. No agenda here. Oy. :)

As someone who has gotten more, not less flexible as she's aged, less, not more fearful, I am always bemused by descriptions of older people as rigid and fearful! (Not you, Jen, in general I mean). But I want to note just how inadequate are the terms in our culture to talk about the different older age groups. I continued referring to myself as middle aged till close to 60 when someone said, "are you expecting to live to 120?" If middle aged meant 45, what is 60? I certainly didn't (and don't at 65) feel "elderly". In my life cycle course the texts list categories of "young old", "old old" and "oldest old". How awkward is that? We are living longer and healthier and being 60 today is very different than it was in my grandmother's time! I usually just refer to myself as a baby boomer. Though I was amused when my students thought that meant "old hippie" and had no idea it referred to a spike in population (which consisted of many lifestyles!)

So, I have a question, Jen: I still see the term "blind" used, is that now considered appropriate or inappropiate? I do right away see the problem that it excludes gradations of visual impairment.

Jen - I'm also interested in terms for people with visual impairments that are not pejorative. I am partnered with a hypoglycemia alert dog that was initially trained by an agency with "blind" in its name. This agency was founded at the end of World War 2 and our language has morphed considerably since then.

When people ask me about how/where my dog was trained I often refer to his early training as "guiding the visually impaired." Some quarters of the political spectrum make fun of this kind of concern as being needlessly "politically correct." I think suitable names are important and language selection and usage as an indirect indicator of a person's values. Maybe my analysis is two or three layers too deep!

Please respond with your preferred terms for someone who is visually impaired. (Come to think of it, I write this with my computer glasses on and am visually impaired without them!)

Trudy - Your level of cognitive clarity and agility at age 83 is something to which I aspire, especially give the challenges of T1D!

Terry, thank you very, very much!