I’m a diabetic spotter

By | 2 August, 2012

Alison in full diabetic spotting mode

I admit it, I am a secret diabetic spotter. I’m not quite at the anorak wearing, binocular carrying stage yet (despite photographic evidence to the contrary), and I haven’t ever kept a log of my sightings, but I am always on the lookout for others who are playing at being a pancreas.

I’ve known about this habit for years, but it really came home to me quite how bad I’ve got it when I realised I was watching Sir Steve Redgrave carrying the Olympic torch, and my main interest was trying to spot where he’d hidden his pump.

It’s not just on TV though, I’m like this in real life too. A glimpse of another pump out there in the wild is enough to make me smile. Spotting someone doing a blood test in the same row as me in the cinema? I feel all warm inside.

Sightings of other diabetics at diabetes events are always enjoyable, but not as satisfying. It’s a bit like a naturalist seeing an animal in a zoo – it’s a fascinating encounter, but not the same as seeing one in the wild.

I’m never quite sure what to do when I spot another diabetic. My instinct is to rush over to them, shouting “me too, me too!” but apparently this is a little frightening for people and could ultimately lead to them calling the police. So mostly I just observe, like a creepy diabetic stalker. I have been spotted numerous times by other diabetic spotters. In points terms, I would be quite a low score for a spotter because I’ve always tested and injected in public and my pump is usually hanging off my waist with tubing flailing around everywhere so I’m hardly an undercover diabetic. Normally I notice them staring at me mid blood test, injection or bolus and when I smile at them, they confess all and we have a nice chat.

Diabetic spotting is of course a great family sport. We’ll be sitting in a restaurant and the husband will whisper “blood test, man in blue shirt, table to the left”. My parents return from holidays with tales of insulin pumps they spotted. Diabetes may be an invisible disease, but the signs are there if you know what to look for.

Do you spot diabetics in the wild? Please tell me I’m not the only diabetic spotter out there.

11 thoughts on “I’m a diabetic spotter

  1. Angie

    “I was watching Sir Steve Redgrave carrying the Olympic torch, and my main interest was trying to spot where he’d hidden his pump.”

    This made me laugh, because I did the exact same thing!

    I am totally a diabetic spotter, but like you I’m never quite sure what to do. I spotted a guy at work while we were both waiting by the microwaves and I just kinda hovered, smiled like a weirdo and then fled… The funniest thing is turning it into a family sport – my husband will quite often tell me about diabetics he’s spotted during the day.

    So no, you’re not alone! I think it’s that nice little thing of spotting another diabetic just out there, doing their thing, getting on with life, the same as we do. And of course the knowledge that we’re all part of the same club!

  2. Joy

    I’m always surprised how few other diabetics I see in the wild, where I live it must still be a covert activity, Although I was at a party at the weekend with 2 other T1’s and a T2, we met around the pudding table – I think that may have been to prevent people asking “are you sure you shuld be eating that?”

    I’m pleased to read that other people test and medicate in public though, I have wondered if this was against diabetic etiqette;-) I once managed to cause much offense to a table of oler ladies by breastfeeding and injecting at the same time.

    1. Alison Post author

      I love the idea of you offending most of society through two simple acts. If I had a child, I’d be tempted to go back on injections just for the day to experience the pleasure of causing so much offence all in one go, brilliant!

      We are a relatively rare breed so I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised we don’t see many of us around – https://www.shootuporputup.co.uk/2010/06/i-seem-to-be-a-rare-breed/

  3. Faith

    Me three! I’d be quite happy if fellow diabetics ran up to me for a high-five or winked!

    I also give a knowing smile whenever I spot stray testing strips. Perhaps this could be a photo-competition – where is the oddest place you’ve spotted diabetes-related litter?!

  4. The ... Diabetic

    Yay, I’m one too! I even kind of included it in my Diabetes-week post (shameless plug 😉 http://the3dotsdiabetic.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/the-implicit-diabetic/). I like to know the mundane detail of people’s lives with D: do you have a system for determining which finger you prick or where you inject? what’s your favourite hypo treat, what’s your nemesis, etc…

    In reality, all I ever do is stare, smile and wink, but maybe next time I’ll go high-five someone!

  5. Aoife

    I was in a rather marvellous chocolate based eating emporium one afternoon with the girls weighing up whether the double chocolate fudge cake with fudge sauce and vanilla ice cream was “worth the bolus” (I had just tested and was a respectable 6.9) The woman on the table next to us turned around, novopen in hand and said yes, it was worth both worth the bolus and the correction later and then just turned back round like she had just told me the time or something!

    She was right though, it WAS worth the bolus (and the subsequent correction then the early evening hypo 😀 )

    1. Alison Post author

      I’d love that, someone just pops into your diabetic bubble and pops back out again, brilliant!

      1. Aoife

        It was so unexpected, I was completely floored and stunned into silence (which as anyone who knows me will say is most unusual!). My friend just turned to me, completely straight faced and said “You had better do as the nice lady says” so I did!

  6. Clare

    I’m always on the look-out too but never seem to spot anybody although I was on holiday in Spain (Easter 2012) and put my pen on the table ready to shoot up in public (as I do, now I’m old(er) and don’t care about stuff like that anymore) and the Spanish waiter looked at it, and took his humalog pen out of his back pocket and started waving it at me and talking to me! yee ha. Actually I do understand Spanish so we had a brief chat about how he is always high and how hard it is to control. I would LOVE it if more people would do this!

    1. Alison Post author

      @clare-hayward It’s quite sad really just how much it does brighten up your day. Or perhaps its good that we’re just so easily pleased!

  7. Simon Crawley

    I’m not a pump user – although I want to be, I’m not going to bang on about it – much, however, I have had quite a few occasions where others have recognised my Humalog pen – they are very stylish and look like expensive pens, however, my contribution to this thread, concerns my visit to a nudist beach in the South of France a few years ago (4), and I spotted someone who whilst wearing nothing else did have their pump still attached held in place with a band of elastic around their midriff.

    I did try to speak, but his English was very limited and my French is poor, the people we were staying with, who did speak French did try to help, but it was a bit difficult – and mainly descended into Gaelic shrugs and a pitying look when I produced my pens.

    Anyway – the pumps get everywhere.


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