Not in front of me.... (NIFOM)?

Had a very bizarre, unfortunate experience the other day.

I work as a "specialist" at a large summer camp in my region. In the course of the day, we work with 500+ kids (3yo to 8th grade), in small groups.

I was done with my morning groups and went to the gigantic lunch tent for the first lunch wave. The specialists, sit at tables at the edge of the tent, and let the counselors get their groups fed at their tables.

I got my food, did some mental math sat with my specialist "peers", a small group of 5 adults and shot what I needed, through my camp tee shirt under the table. The discussions were the usual unimportant stuff; home life, outside work, movies. I asked some questions, listened and went back to my area, to prepare for my next wave of kids.

Later that afternoon my unit supervisor came to my pavilion. We had worked together before, at different locations many times. Quietly approaching, he asked if I had a minute because he had a "request" from a senior camp administrator, an unnamed superior to both of us.

She "requested" I NOT shoot (use) insulin in the lunch tent anymore.

One of my "professional" peers... supposedly was bothered/offended by my injection. Not visible to the children in any way. I had quietly dialed the dose, removed the pen/needle covers and shot through my camp tee shirt underneath the picnic table top. I did it in seconds, The conversations around me never stopped, or paused.

With visible disgust, I attempted to learn the source of the complaint. Politely he refused to name the administrator(s). He apologized repeatedly for needing to make the request. He was literally the messenger. I told him I guess they were very lucky I did not have Asthma, and it was "only diabetes" instead.

Diabetes is ok to have but, only as long as its treatment is "not in front of me", N.I.F.O.M. ???

So my diabetic peers, elders, friends is this discrimination? What clever ways would you approach it?

I'd tell her to buzz off. I have run into a couple of people who *blanched* at shots, as they didn't like needles but even they didn't haze me about it. I've changed infusion sets at my cubicle at work and nobody even notices we are so busy all the time.

Shooting up in the bathroom sort of reminds me of a Dee Dee Ramone story about Sid Vicious using water from the toilet at CBGB's to cut whatever he was shooting. No thanks.

One of my friends had TG and sid "I feel like I should go to the bathroom to test" and my other friend, an MD, agreed with me when I was like "eeew, no way", saying that it was a generally bad idea.

Tell the messenger to tell him/her that if it's so bothersome not to look. Period.

I agree with what everyone has said but suggest one more step. Send an email to the senior camp official noting that you have diabetes and requesting a "reasonable accomodation" that you be allowed to test and dose discretely at the specialists' table. Putting them on notice should make them queasy about something real :-)

Yikes! That would throw me for a loop right there.

If you sit with the same people everyday, next meal at the table I would directly ask them if they mind if you take your insulin right then and there so you can eat your meal with them. Then go on and explain that you usually try to take it discreetly and not make a big deal about it, some people don't even notice but it has come to your attention that other people are offended by your need to take insulin to survive. I would hope that the debate that follows reaches the ears of the "senior administrator" because diabetes is a chronic illness you must treat and not be told not to do it in public.

The next time you take a shot, say "I'm sorry that keeping myself alive offends anyone." and then take it anyway

hard not to be annoyed at it! Another sad part is how this 'superior' has asked someone below them to tell you. A real manager would atleast ask you face to face to not inject. All this manager has done is made themselves out to be cowardly. We have a manager at work like this too. Gets the 2 IC to direct the wrist slapping on his behalf. And none of us respect this person because they refuse to 'man up' if they have issues.
Your in a hard situation because, rightly or wrongly, its a boss. A spineless boss, but, hard to be pro-active without further investigation into your rights as a first point of call.

Young - I like your solution. Requesting a "reasonable accommodation" lets the senior camp official know that Stuart knows the ADA law yet wants to pursue a face saving resolution. A private email keeps this communication confidential, something the senior camp official will appreciate. But it lets the senior official know, in a thinly veiled, understated, yet powerful way, that Stuart means business. It would take an ill-informed ignorant administrator to not see that the easiest most common sense solution is the one proposed by Stuart. Making the administrator queasy is good tonic for this bit of unpleasantness. I would only hope that the instigator would also feel a bit uneasy when considering their selfish and unsympatheic behavior.

TimmyMac - I like your direct and "in your face" suggestion. It made me smile! It would certainly offend the ignorant and inconsiderate instigator. Perhaps when their anger subsides they would be smart enough to see the error of their position. I'm not too sure about that, though.

Cut and pasted from the link above:

Common Reasonable Accommodations for Individuals with Diabetes

  • The ability to test blood glucose and inject insulin anywhere at work

It would take a dim-witted administrator to not see that the obvious solution is to permit Stuart to discreetly take his insulin at the table or anywhere he darn well pleases. If I were Stuart I would not shoot through my t-shirt and risk a blood stain and further embarrassment. But that's just me.

I am pretty certain that the point of "reasonable accomodations" is that they can't require "discretion". They can stuff it.

I love TimmyMac and jrtpup's suggestions!

Here's what I would do - I would go back to your manager and inform him that the ADA offers people with diabetes certain protections in the workplace. One of those protections is the ability to treat your condition as you see fit. You did nothing wrong by administering insulin when and where you did and he needs to understand that. He also needs to understand that HE did something wrong by calling you out the way he did. What he should have done was inform the person who made the complaint that you were doing nothing wrong to begin with and that if he/she had an issue, they were free to not look or leave the table.

I do not like pulling the ADA trump card, but I have done so on more than one occasion in attempt to educate someone about my rights. On the rare occasion where I have had to bring up the ADA, I remind the person I'm speaking with that while I'm not taking any legal action, the next person might, so they had better be aware of these issues. In most cases, I've found that people are just ignorant to what the ADA means, especially with regard to something like T1D. They assume the ADA applies to things like wheelchair ramps and physical disabilities, and not something like T1D. My goal is always EDUCATION and that means not getting angry or condescending, but rather just teaching someone the facts. I generally find that this is well-received and results in getting the job done. Again, most people aren't even aware that they are doing anything wrong. I know as a manager I have made plenty of mistakes (with the best of intentions), and that sounds exactly like what your manager did.


i am so shocked by this behavior, perhaps you could do a training on increased empathy for others, so sadly missing in today's world. so sad that your boss has to speak with you at all about this he/ she should of handled it directly with the person in question, because their behavior was so insensitive and off target. it should of been stopped right there, ' excuse me so and so but if you have a problem with stuart caring for his life threatening medical problem in a very discrete way then actually this is your problem and please look away, sit at another table etc.' this is how management should operate with common sense and compassion! i hope you realize this incident was all the other insensitive individual's problem and clearly not yours! best of luck, it's hard enough dealing with the day to day stuff then this!! you are stronger and clearly the grown up in this, hope things have resolved and you are still shooting up in public!!! amy

I said that on a school trip once. The person really quickly shut up haha. Idk how that would fly with a manager though.

The plus side is that you can sue the manager for discrimination and violating the Americans With Disabilities Act, etc. Probably a bunch of stuff. One of my friends used to do that sort of law and found it frustrating as, even when he had a good case, there wasn't a lot of "damage" but I'm sure it would bury the manager in paperwork and rub their nose in it.

Hi Stuart! I am so very sorry this happened. Firstly, I am sad this happened because it was hurtful to you. Also, I think about what a horrible message this unnamed administrator is sending to the kids. You mentioned your shot wasn't visible to the kids, but I don't think you should have to worry about that either. Out of those 500+ kids, one of them must know a diabetic. From the posting it sounds like the kids were out of the loop on this, but I wonder about the scenerio that maybe it turns out that one kid saw you at camp taking your shot and being ok and later diabetes touches that kid's life and he remembers seeing you and gains strength from it. All people should be taught and reminded to be tolerant and empathetic with each other. I am quite positive you are a wonderful specialist and a true gift to this camp. You shouldn't have to leave the tent for any reason. You should be right where you belong - at the table being an incredible teacher and a great mentor.

I am so sorry this happened to you. However, you can use this as an opportunity to edicate some misguided people.

A link to various reasons why it is necessary to test and manage your diabetes in public (USA)