No, My Insulin Pump is NOT a Cell Phone!

By: Ashley Muscatell

After dealing with diabetes for over 12 years, I shouldn’t be so easily surprised by the misunderstandings that surround the disease. More than once, I have found myself in an awkward position where I must explain why I’m pricking finger or dialing numbers into my pump (which is all-to-often mistaken for a cell phone.) It’s difficult to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has never dealt with diabetes, but if you take a second to think about it, all gizmos and gadgets that come with diabetes may be just about as familiar as the controls inside of an alien’s UFO.

Just about a year after starting the pump I experienced a rather interesting incident involving some misunderstandings about my diabetes. On this day, I finished my lunch and casually whipped out my pump to bolus for what I had just eaten; nothing out of the ordinary compared to any other day. I was scrolling through the numbers, and then I saw stern hand stretched out in front of my face. Utterly confused, I looked up and then it finally registered to me that my assistant principle thought I was blatantly breaking school rules and texting at lunch. Once I told her that it was my insulin pump, she turned bright red and attacked me with a giant hug, profusely apologizing for her “silly mistake.”

Of course, there are two sides to this situation: my view, and then there’s the way the AP was seeing things. If you don’t have diabetes and don’t know much about it, you’re first thought when seeing someone staring down at a small handheld device probably won’t be “ah, that’s probably just an insulin pump.”  From my perspective, I felt offended that an administrator wouldn’t have the courtesy to ask before she shoved her hand in my face; this is the hard part, because, well, how could she have known? To provide a simple answer, this whole incident could have been avoided if teachers and staff were better educated about diabetes. Informing others about diabetes is something that we all must work together towards in order to make everyone’s lives a little easier. I hope the day comes when I can hold out my pump, tubing and all, without others speculating. Education is the key to understanding, so I want to make it my goal to inform people before the misunderstandings even have the chance to occur. Speaking up can be scary, but it’s a must when living with diabetes.

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