Using Insulin in Public

If you use insulin, sometimes you may need to inject it while you're away from home. For some people, especially those who are new to the situation, it may feel awkward or embarrassing. Still, it’s possible to use insulin in public and not feel like you’re the center of attention. Here are some tips to help put you at ease.

Comfort in numbers

Although you may think that taking insulin sets you apart, you’re actually far from alone. Millions of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes use insulin. This means the condition is much more visible and better understood today than it was in years past. Those around you may not be as surprised as you think to see you injecting insulin.

If someone asks what you’re doing, think of it as a chance to educate another person about diabetes. Of course, you may not be in the mood to talk just then. In such cases, a simple “I’m fine” will usually deflect unwanted questions. Occasionally, someone might make a comment that seems tactless or cruel. It may be nothing more than a bungled attempt to express concern. Or, it may reflect the other person’s ignorance and anxiety about diabetes.

Privacy, please

One easy way to preserve your privacy is to look for a quiet spot to inject your insulin. If you have plans to eat at a restaurant, you might take your insulin in the car before going inside, as long as it does not take too long for your food to be served. In a store or office building, try to find a bathroom or secluded corner.

Using insulin can be a rather elaborate process. You take out your vial and syringe, draw up the insulin, and give yourself a shot. If going through these steps in public makes you uncomfortable, you have other options available—an insulin pump or pen. An insulin pen, for instance, looks less like a medical device than a syringe does, and it can be used discreetly.

Over time, you may get used to injecting insulin in public. If it continues to bother you, talk with your health care provider. He or she may be able to recommend ways to increase your comfort level.