An Embarrassing Question

By Anne56 Latest Reply 2012-11-27 02:38:32 -0600
Started 2010-03-03 09:43:31 -0600

My question is this: How do folks handle taking insulin with syringes or insulin pens prior to eating at a restaurant?

What would you say is the protocol: go to the restroom? Be discreet at the table? Other options?

Please understand that I know that common sense reigns. I am even a bit shy about posing the question because I feel as though I should know the answer, and I don't see that anyone else has brought this specific question to the group. Just so you know, this comes up for me quite frequently due to my extensive travel. I use pens with fast-acting insulin. Business meals can be very long while people order drinks and appetizers… though I do not. I have taken a shot where no one at the table realized — that I know! One man believes strongly that people should keep their drug use to themselves — prescription, smoking, or otherwise. Frankly, I don't disagree. For me, though, going to the ladies room feels yucky and unnecessary. I would rather be discreet at the table, though being offensive would over-ride that.

Btw - In my over 50 years of life, I have never noticed anyone taking a shot in public (or private, for that matter).

What say you?

55 replies

doggier 2012-11-27 02:38:32 -0600 Report

This is such a good question. I bought one of those little back packs from Walmart, so now I carry everything in. I take my shot right after I eat if I go out to lunch when I am in the car.

peace13 2010-10-23 15:42:43 -0500 Report

if im out in public i do it under a table at a restaurant at school i go into the bathroom or just wait until im back at my dorm …but sometimes i just do it openly if it bothers people it bothers people you do what you have to do to stay healthy

mo91108 2010-10-22 23:37:07 -0500 Report

Well what I do is because I take insulin at school I check my sugars in the bathroom and take my insulin the stall if it bothers people. I ope this helps.

Type1Lou 2010-10-22 17:03:50 -0500 Report

Dear Anne,
I am a 61 year old type 1 diabetic, currently retired from the business world. I will not hesitate to inject my Novolog at the restaurant table, providing I can do so discreetly (wearing shorts or a skirt) If I'm wearing slacks, I don't like to inject through the fabric, so then I'll haul off to the Ladies' Room (rather than drop drawers at the table which I, and undoubtedly others, would find offensive and embarrassing). I have been on overnight flights where getting up to inject has presented a challenge (window or middle seats) but found I could inject my Lantus abdominally without flashing my neighboring passengers…I doubt that most strangers even notice or care. My friends understand. Business associates could present a different set of circumstances that you are in a better position to judge at any given time. In most cases, I would deem that you can inject discreetly in public without calling a great deal of attention to the process. I don't feel it is wise to inject a short-acting insulin before ordering, or even when you order, because we've all waited longer than expected for restaurant meals. I inject when the food is served.

Bon Appetit!

Brenda_B 2010-10-21 21:22:23 -0500 Report

my mother "shooting up" never bothered me. But one night out with family and my boyfriend fainted… for real.. hit the floor with a huge crash. Ended up in the emergency room… have to love those guys LOL

speak up
speak up 2010-09-13 17:26:58 -0500 Report

What would this man do if it was him, hide I doubt it, I don't think public restrooms is a good idea they are nasty in most places. We are only going this way once and I say do what you have to.

newbie51 2010-09-13 16:26:44 -0500 Report

I have learned to take mine in the bathroom or in the car prior to going to eat.
I also take it before I leve home if I know that is where we are going.

Elrond 2010-09-13 05:20:02 -0500 Report

I'm on an insulin pump now but when I used syringes, I pulled out my meter at the restaurant table, checked my sugar, and injected myself in the abdomen right there. I tried not to 'make a show' of it but it's simply a part of life and people just have to get used to it. Now that I use the pump, the only difference is that I push buttons instead of taking a shot.

BondedbyBetis 2010-06-22 18:44:35 -0500 Report

I'm have given up on trying to find a proper and polite way to take something my body cant live without! Makes me laugh now because my husband it so embarrassed (but understands ) ! I even pluck the syringe to be smart! lol ! I dare someone to ask! No different than breast feeding ya ask me!

UniquelyMe 2010-06-21 07:41:09 -0500 Report

This is a new problem for me. I was diagnosed in March 2009 and was on the normal Metformin, Glipizide, and Lantus until last week. Now I take 4 shots a day. This is a question I had too…what to do when you are in public? I just did my shot at the table. For one thing, bathrooms in restaurants are NASTY… and I really don't care what people think. But how do I get on a routine? Timing is everything… and what do I carry my insulin in? I use the vials and syringes so I think I need a case of some kind. Also, should I now wear a bracelet?
So many things to worry about…I don't know anyone with Type 2…or Type 1 so I need to ask these things.


speak up
speak up 2010-09-13 17:18:22 -0500 Report

Wal-Mart has a little case that should be big enough it is about the size of the case your meter is in, I do what I have to in public, I dislike public restrooms so I normally don't go out much, but as for testing and such I do what I have to when I have to! My dogtor told me to get a bracelet because I am outside doing something during Spring, Summer and Fall, I do most of my stuff alone and so he thought it would be a good idea incase I passed out or had a problem someone should know to call 911 and tell them I am a dibbetic and so I bought one. I wish you the best!

gregsteele 2010-06-28 05:30:14 -0500 Report

Yes get a bracelet or necklace if you ever have a low in public and go down it would be worth its weight in gold i seen people just step over a guy thinking he was just a drunk passed out i went to help and found a necklace then called 911 i read in the paper next day that he died maybe could have been avoided if someone noticed sooner as for carring your syringes or pens i have a case that holds two vials and 4 syriges or pens love to all GREG

jayabee52 2010-06-29 05:52:50 -0500 Report

Routines, I have problems with them myself, so I can only suggest some things which MIGHT work for you. You might want to set a watch or small clock if you're out & about to remind you when to take your BG#s & your meds.

For our vials, we keep cold packs in freezer & put them in a small insulated lunch box. That usually keeps the insulin cool enough not to go bad. You don't have to keep them very cold, just cool. There's another discussion somewhere where the temp. of the insulin is discussed more in depth, but I understand an opened vial of insulin can be kept at room temp for something like 28 days. When you're out in the summer you need to protect it from temp extremes.

And in the winter, of course you don't want the insulin to freeze.
Once I drew up 2 or 3 needles and put them on one of the ice packs, in the cooler, and the insulin froze. Better to keep the insulin in the vial until needed. I usually keep the vial in the little box it comes in so it won't be in direct contact with the ice pak.



trey66 2010-03-24 16:17:04 -0500 Report

I go into the bathroom where ever I'm at,, i don't care what people say or think. They normally look at me funny so I look at them funny or my wife will usually have me take my meds before we go in to the resturant to avoid confretation…I take medication to for a medical reason and if people can't understand that then, I don't care what they say or think…

scribbles 2010-03-17 20:09:31 -0500 Report

I'm over 50, so I can get away with "combing my hair" before a meal. I usually use a stall for "true" privacy. (Not much privacy with kids peeking under the door at McD's).
At places where the restroom is pretty much out of the question, use you thigh and "hide" under the table. Do you wear shorts or skirts very often?
I'm a bit of a smart-aleck…I was seen trying to be discreet and he asked why I dared to act like that in public. I came back with "why do you need to know that?" He left. (picnic in the park, He was not part of our group).
Be safe and comfortable, no matter where you choose. It's your life, your decision, your future. Those that don't like it can look the other way!

jayabee52 2010-03-17 22:29:24 -0500 Report

Howdy Scribbles
a big WELCOME to DC!

That was a good comeback to the rude "gent" who asked you. I wonder what he was thinking, that you were doing ILLEGAL drugs? There's always that danger with people thinking we're shooting up "happy juice" of some kind.

blessings to you and yours

Justice 2010-03-05 16:18:34 -0600 Report

I really think its a personal preference. Its whatever your most comfortable with. Before I got the pump I took my Blood Sugars and did my shots right there at the table. I agree the restrooms are so nasty and its just a hassle I've tried that on several occassions. When I'm out with friends/family they already now I have diabetes. When I'm out for business purposes I usually try to be a little more discreet but even the people I work with know that I have diabetes. But now I have the pump its really easy press a few buttons and its done. However you decide to handle it make sure your comfortable and you stay true to who you are because this is your life and your body.

livlaughlve22 2010-03-05 00:17:29 -0600 Report

honestly i have felt the same way as you do! sometimes i would think people would look at me strange or think i'm some kind of druggie for that matter, but its a part of our lives. Its normal to us. & we want to be as normal as everyone else! so what if we do it at the table in a public place its a necesity, no one should should look at you any different if you went into a tiny stall trying to draw up your insulin with no surface to put something down on..but i say oh well! do whatever makes it easier for you, we have enough to deal with

Crashnot 2010-03-05 07:32:54 -0600 Report

Ugh, and keep a close grip! I dropped my vial in my hotel bathroom once, and it shattered! Of course, that was on a Sunday back when there were no 7-day a week pharmacies! Don't recall where we found a replacement, but it was a lot of hair pulling that morning!

rankearl 2010-03-04 15:17:41 -0600 Report

hi ive been diabetic most my life usually get all kinds of looks when im out in public using my insulin pump kids and older people ask questions i prefer that to staring ((HUGS)) julie

ptsparkle 2010-03-03 19:37:06 -0600 Report

For me, it's the same as testing. Do it discreetly, don't make a big deal about it,just like an astma inhaler, it's for your health. Good luck,

packrat2 2010-03-03 19:18:12 -0600 Report

Like Harlen..when I was using the needle, I need to go out to lunch with about 10 men {retired Army} once a week or so I have done it at the table or gone that I am on a pump no one has even asked what I am doing..people think I am wearing a phone on my belt..I am waiting for some one to ask me what I wearing on my side…regards packrat2

livlaughlve22 2010-03-05 19:37:27 -0600 Report

atleast it gets mistaken for a phone! when someone doesn't know what it is and they see me pressing buttons they assume i have a beeper and cant afford a cell phone or my technology isnt up to date lol

Harlen 2010-03-03 18:54:42 -0600 Report

Hello and welcome
When I was on shots I just lifted my shert and gave it lol and I never had any problem no one even askd what I was doing.
But if your shy just go to the bathroom and give it
Hope this helps
Best wishes

dietcherry 2010-03-03 16:09:38 -0600 Report

I take my shots in public, whenever I need to. I am not ashamed of it, and if it causes uncomfortable feelings for others whom needles make queasy, then they don't have to look! It's not like I'm taking a boob out and breastfeeding!

Sue Turner
Sue Turner 2010-03-03 17:41:04 -0600 Report

LOL, Renee I check my BS at the table, then I enter my carbs into my insulin pump…I have noticed some looks upon ocassion, but no one, as of yet, has said anything to me, but when I was on the injections, I didn't think twice about pulling out my insulin pen and shooting up…At first I would go to the bathroom to do it, then one day my daughter said to me, "Mom, why do you do that? It's not like you are shooting up Heroin or something!" So, after that, I just did what I had to do right where I was…

Crashnot 2010-03-03 18:09:44 -0600 Report

This all reminds me of the story of the guy who needed $1.98 to buy a fast food burger. Gave the clerk a $2 bill h was tired of storing in his wallet, and went from the kid to the manager to a mall police officer who was actually old enough to know that the bills are not counterfeit and truly can be used to pay for things! Funny story if you Google it, but it all boils down to what your perception is. I feel the same way. I'm much more conspicuous dialing up my pump info than I ever was loading up and using my syringe!

Anonymous 2010-03-03 18:30:35 -0600 Report

Years ago I (before I had to be on injections) I was at a business meeting/dinner and a business partner injected himself, very matter of factly and answered some questions from those at the table. Years later when I had to go on injections I remembered him, his grace and serenity and the educating that he did and it gave me courage. I followed his example and hope that maybe someone seeing me will be helped the way that business partner helped me so many years ago.

spiritwalker 2010-03-03 16:04:05 -0600 Report

I don't eat out much, but when I do it depends on where
I am. I am discreet about it and no on has ever said
anything one way or the other.

salmanda 2010-03-03 13:10:37 -0600 Report

My opinion is that you should do what you feel comfortable with. I had a friend, God rest his soul, that used to inject at the table. It never bothered me if/when I noticed it, and no one else seemed to mind. No one mentioned it later either.
I think it is an individual decision that has to be made considering your comfort level, where you are, etc.
Sal :)

mamaoak 2010-03-03 11:19:41 -0600 Report

i did it in the car befor going in to the reastraunt i found it was easyer there but then i did not go out to eat that much.

Susie624 2010-03-03 12:15:35 -0600 Report

So far I am fortunant to not have to do the shots ,but my mother did and I feel that the need to take care of yourself overrides all otherthings,but as stated be as discreet as possible but by all means take your shot when it is needed do not put it off.

Markus 2010-03-04 07:56:49 -0600 Report

I agree. I try to be discreet as much as possible. But if I need to take my shot, no one will be able to stop me. Same thing goes for eating. I won't wait for others if I need to eat.

Anne56 2010-03-03 10:40:38 -0600 Report

Thank you all so very much for the responses! I am soooo glad that I finally put the question to you; support here is nothing short of phenomenal.

As for my question, each of you have actually confirmed the pieces of my own thoughts — mostly to use discretion. I am better at the shots now, too; I don't need to Look at myself anymore while I do it.

I didn't know that some folks need to mix their preparations… geez! One thing I will NEVER EVER do is feel sorry for myself. There are far too, too many folks who have greater concerns, challenges, and burdens — NOT to put words in their collective mouths… but geez, all I have to do to prepare a shot can be done with my eyes closed.

THANKS again. So glad I found "you".

In appreciation,

tink2707 2010-03-03 11:37:14 -0600 Report

if you're using a pen its unlikely that you'll ever need to mix your own.

im a big fan of just being discreet. most people in general wont even notice that you're injecting and the pen is super easy to just slip in and out of your purse. i've only been caught in the act once, and the waitress happened to have a diabetic boyfriend and was just glad to see that i was doing what i needed to do to take care of myself.

Markus 2010-03-03 10:40:15 -0600 Report

At sporting events, at the airport, or just going out to dinner (if I can't manage to inject in the car first), I will just go ahead and use the restroom.

You don't know how other people may react to seeing you with a needle on the end of an insulin pen.

Anne56 2010-03-03 10:47:28 -0600 Report

Thanks Markus. I agree with you. I wouldn't "do it" anywhere that there was risk of someone seeing the needle. I feel confident that I can do it without that happening, but I didn't want to kid myself either. I truly feel bolstered by the responses I have received that it can successfully be accomplished discreetly. That means, for me, that no one sees the needle!

I have never mentioned this before now, but I have severe back problems and MS. I am seldom alone! Travel is really difficult for me. Sometimes, walking is real difficult, too! I appreciate All the responses as they are, without further consideration of my abilities. I truly wanted to know what other's do in similar situations.

Thanks again,

MAYS 2010-03-03 10:39:16 -0600 Report


Don't ever be ashamed about being diabetic and doing what is necessary for you to survive.
You are not the first, nor will you be the last diabetic.
And you are doing what you need to do in order to survive, which overrides everything else.
Should you ever feel the need to apologize for injecting yourself in public,
apologize for the inconvience that it may have caused others, but never for being diabetic and taking care of yourself. (Being shy is a part of being human)

Anne56 2010-03-03 11:22:33 -0600 Report

Whoa, partner… I can't fathom where you gathered a sense of shame from my post, but I would not like that my friends here would think I carry shame for having diabetes — or anything else, for that matter! Truth be told, I am seldom embarrassed or shy, and I am never ashamed of myself.

Feeling shy is human, I surely agree, as are all feelings. I have no problems with feeling my feelings, sharing them, admitting them, or anything else connected to them.

It seems that I either wasn't very clear or that you have read more into my post than was intended. Thanks for your response, Mays, and I hope I clarified this.


MAYS 2010-03-03 10:14:01 -0600 Report

This can be a very delicate situation for all involved due to your need to do so, the curiousity of others as well as the level of ignorance involved.

If others are familiar with you and it doesn't offend anyone, by all means do it at the table but in a rather discrete way, personally, I feel that it should remain private and should be done in privacy because of the sensitivity issue of injecting yourself in a public place,the reaction both visually and verbally can be rather negative.

Crashnot 2010-03-03 10:24:06 -0600 Report

Well spoken, but you know what? It's very easy to do it with not a soul ever knowing! As long as the conversation is lively, you have lots of time to glance down discreetly, and I don't even look when I do the injection, I just do it by feel.

roger 2010-03-03 10:42:19 -0600 Report

for what it is worth
the bath is out for me to grose! plus i did try that once and had some one walk in while i was doing my shot and just backed out and sent managment in to throw out the drug user in the bathroom!
after that and befor i got my pump i started doing it right at the table some times i would ask if needels bathered any one and if not i told them what i was about to do other times i just started doing it under the table like others stated they did but now with the pump i just push 8 buttons and get my in j have even been asked who i was texting a good conv starter about being diabetichope this helped

Anne56 2010-03-03 11:08:20 -0600 Report

It does help — thanks. I didn't mention this, but when I have excused myself, I felt a little bad that I did. It sort of felt like I was doing something icky or wrong…or that others would think it was icky or wrong.

roger 2010-03-03 11:20:06 -0600 Report

i did at first so i would go to my car to do it but the one thing that made me not go other then the bathromm prob was one day i was haveing a bis lunch with 10 other men in a large up scale rest and after going to the bathroom there was a woman brest feeding just a few tables away .all of the men at the table were talking about how it was nice that she felt confertabl anouf to do that in poblic and a light went off in my head . so i just do it where ever i am even now i try to plan to change my port at home but some times it just does not work out that way so i just ask if any one has problems with needels and have even had thoes that do get up and go to the bathroom so i can do my thing

Anne56 2010-03-03 11:30:24 -0600 Report

Thanks… this is particularly gratifying to me in regards to 10 men acknowledging the naturalness of breast feeding (actually, 11 men, right? Including you?) As you know, it wasn't always so! Back in the day, I grappled a bit with nursing in public — mind you, with a blanket over "all" — NOT whipping out a breast in front of people!

roger 2010-03-03 13:26:32 -0600 Report

i have seen this a lot beleave it or not and only one woman did it unbecomming for a woman all others had a blankit or a flap bilt tn to clothing
and yes i to was shocked to see at first but after growing up a bit it is just a fact of life we all have to eat now orlaterand with babys now is better

Crashnot 2010-03-03 10:03:47 -0600 Report

I generally go right under the table, even on first dates where the guy doesn't know I'm diabetic yet. If you're just doing a single, fast acting insulin and not having to mix, it's pretty easy to take your time to get vial & syringe in position, load, and then inject. I have to pause all the time if a waiter pops up to ask how things are going, or whatever. Never been caught that I can recall! Restrooms are gross, so I only resort to that when I'm wearing something that keeps me from my site. If you are uncomfortable injecting with the company you are in, best follow your intuition and excuse yourself for that time.

kdroberts 2010-03-03 09:56:07 -0600 Report

It's not an odd question. Just go about it like it's the most normal thing in the world, don't flaunt it and no one will notice. I've been standing up talking to somebody and they didn't notice I was injecting. It's when you look uncomfortable or like you are trying to hide something that people start to notice. If you can't do that then there are always quiet corners in restaurants that can be used, just don't do it in the bathroom because that can cause more than one issue.

Roy531 2010-03-03 10:06:32 -0600 Report

I work for a school district in Okla. and I have noticed that some people that are diabetics need a shot they just go about it like it is a normal everyday thing, she doesn't try to hide it she just pulls up her shirt tail and injects it into her stomach. But I guess some people would not look at it that way, but what would you do if you were in a place with people with no place to go for the privacy? Myself I don't see a problem with it but then again I'm diabetic

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