I'm being tormented at work about my disease, and need T1D support

Hello! My name is Emma, and I’ve been a Type 1 diabetic for 12 years. I thought that I’d become accustomed to the comments people make towards me and the judgements I receive, but apparently not. I was hired at a restaurant as a server at long time ago, and obviously, I need to occasionally inject or eat to level my numbers during my shift. I use my pen as discreetly as possible in the break room, always double checking to see if others are around me or if people are watching.
Every time, someone will come into the break room and make a comment. My coworkers recently made cookies during our slow period, and me being me, I grabbed two to eat. My coworker slapped the cookie out of my hand and told me “You can’t eat that”. I was so hurt and upset, I didn’t even know how to react in the moment. While I’m injecting, I CONSTANTLY get people staring at me and saying “I could never do that”. I completely understand people’s curiosity or misunderstanding of the disease, but the constant comments have really gotten to me.
I had another coworker come up to me and wave a bowl of fruit in my face, then saying “I bet you can’t eat this huh” to which I responded “I can eat whatever I want”. Her response was “that’s not true, my grandpa can’t eat what he wants which means you can’t either”. I’m so tired of having people tell me about my own disease, and it’s become incredibly difficult for me to manage my illness in my own workplace. I’ve had no support network the entire time I’ve had diabetes, and to be constantly generalized amongst Type 2 Diabetics has become incredibly frustrating for me. I’m posting this to see if anyone else has had a similar experience, and how you’ve learned to deal with people’s comments. Thank you guys!

@emmarb9 hi Emma, what you are describing is called harassment and is quite thoroughly illegal. The dilemma is do you keep the peace and put up with it, or do you make a stand and stick up for yourself (this could hurt other people’s feelings) or do you take notes to document the harassment and sue your employer.

The very first thing to do is to say, out loud, that you do not want the attention, or comments, and if anyone else assaults you (slapping your hand counts) you will defend yourself and then contact the police. You must inform your employer unless you feel unsafe doing so.

A wise lady told me that I train people how to treat me. I have come to believe it.

Stick up for yourself or find another job but please think about it an do what you think is right. Your self esteem depends on it and you are worth it.

Good luck


Hi Emma @emmarb9, first I’ll offer you a Warm Welcome to TypeOneNation - a place where people will understand and support you and where you in turn can help others. This post you made will enlighten others who may be in a situation similar to you. I concur with @joe when he described your situation as harassment.

During my more than 60 years needing insulin to live I have encountered many people who do not understand how we manage autoimmune diabetes [T1D] and live full, active and productive lives. I’ve gone through the phase of “sneaking” my insulin injections like you but moved on from that when co-workers started suspecting that I might be a druggie. I’ve found that education, without confrontation but rather by example, and openness about the fact that I’ve lived well and long with diabetes has made my life easier. For example at work I began putting my “insulin stuff” on my desk well before lunchtime just to remind me [and coworkers] that I needed a shot before we went to the deli - this was long before the advent of rapid-acting insulins; and then at the deli, I’d eat just like those who watched me shoot-up except that my beverage would be either black coffee or unsweetened tea.
As far as being told “you can’t eat that”, I’d often say, “just watch me”. Occasionally I’d point out, when people would say that I’m sick, that I usually get the two week’s extra pay every year for having used the fewest “sick days” in the department. In restaurants, I never hide the fact that I’m taking insulin although I don’t announce it either.

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I worked in restraint for many years! Over 26, look most thier problem is they don’t understand about you and your disease. When someone gives you grief about taking time to inject or eat. Just tell them look it’s a live or die situation. I either do this or…
I’m assuming your a server. And servers get jealous over everything somebody else gets and they think they should too. Let em think it and just sure go ahead, you go to Drs appts all the time, you feel like crap daily cause things are outta whack. Give em a big list of the fun negatives, like neuropathies, etc… They’ll either leave you alone or keep teasing you. If they keep teasing you, ignor them. O thing is gonna reach em. Just get a thick skin and forget them. They’ll prolly be gone soon any way.

Mostly it’s just education about you and the disease. Once they learn it’s a gotta do thing. They usually leave you alone and some become supportive. Usually the ones who are the last you’d think would do it.
Good luckcharlie

I think these people harassing you are totally childish. They do not know a thing about diabetes. It reminds me, I was at a show by myself and needed some insulin, so the person behind me said, can’t you wait to make a call? I said no I cannot, this is not a phone it is my insulin pump. How do you think this person felt. Don’t take any of this stuff personally, you are doing what you have to do, they need to be educated, which you can do. Good luck


Hi Emma, I think you’ve done a great and healthy thing to look for support.
I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, I have a T1D daughter but she’s almost 4 and I haven’t dealt with many ignorant comments about diabetes, yet. But I have about all sorts of other things.
First, how comfortable are you with your manager? Slapping food out of your hand or taunting you with food someone thinks you can’t eat is flat out unacceptable, but could be quickly and easily remedied with a quick chat with the boss.
If you aren’t comfortable with that for any reason, you say you can’t think of what to say in the moment. I think for the folks saying they could never do it, I would say “if it comes down to shots or my health, it becomes pretty do-able” or even “and you’re lucky you don’t have to!” with a big smile.
For anyone telling you you can’t eat anything, I like the just watch me answer, or pick the cookies back up and say of course I can.
If someone tells you what their grandpa can and can’t do say “that’s super interesting but he has a different condition than I do” and turn away.
You’ll find it gets easier and easier once you start asserting yourself, and the good people around you will back off and want to learn more about you, and the bad ones will hopefully slink off into the distance. Good luck to you Emma. Keep us posted.

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Hello again Emma @emmarb9, may I offer a little story about a very positive restaurant experience?

Several years ago, while traveling, I had been on a flight that was slightly delayed and that combined with backup at luggage, my dinner was delayed. Knowing I had to eat before driving 50 miles I found a nearby restaurant and quickly got a seat. Within moments a young feller came to take my order, and as usual started with “… may I get you something to drink”. Apparently I had difficulty making sense and he took off - returning almost immediately with a tall glass of orange juice and ORDERED ME to drink that whole thing. He then called over another server, spoke with her and asked her to help keep an eye on me. Between them after I regained my senses and after asking me my preferences, ordered my meal and made certain I was OK before I left.
I asked the waiter how he knew what to do and he replied that when he noticed my confusion and saw a MedicAlert bracelet he just put two & two together. He then said he has a roommate who doesn’t take care of her diabetes and that he easily recognized my low.


[quote=“Dennis, post:7, topic:63667, full:true”]

Apparently I had difficulty making sense and he took off - returning almost immediately with a tall glass of orange juice and ORDERED ME to drink that whole thing. He then called over another server, spoke with her and asked her to help keep an eye on me. [/quote]

Stories like this help reaffirm my faith in humanity. Thanks for sharing.
(now, to just wash that vision of you in a Julia Roberts wig outta my head, “Drink your juice, Shelby!”)

as for the original post from Emma? Silence gives Consent.

You can be nice about it when you speak with these coworkers, but it starts by speaking.

Dennis, both your responses to my original post provided a lot of insight. As I said previously, throughout the 12 years of living with diabetes, I’ve had no kind of diabetic community or other Type 1s to talk to about problems that come about with our disease. It’s always very surprising for me when I talk to others about my illness, and they actually understand what I’m talking about. One of my managers has been incredibly understanding of my problems, and has helped me in always making sure I sit down and eat/take breaks when I need to. I have really horrible hypoglycemic unawareness, meaning I only realize I’m having a low after I’m almost unconscious. Having help with that while on the job has definitely made things easier, it’s the behavior from other employees that’s become the problem. I always let my coworkers know when I’m stepping off the floor to inject quickly, and I thought that that was open enough for my coworkers to become used to what I need to do, but I guess not. I’m going to try working on being assertive without confrontational or argumentative, and if it becomes too much still, I’ll put my foot down and make a formal complaint. Your suggestions mean quite a lot, and I appreciate you sharing your own experience with me.

My manager and I are pretty open and able to talk to one another about issues in the workplace, however, she only just started working as a general manager there not that long ago. Her and I had worked with each other previous to working where we are now, and she’s still getting used to the rules and trying to build relationships with the other employees. She seems really hesitant to step on anyone’s toes which means that she’s not taking the situation as seriously as it needs to be taken.
I’ve tried countless times to answer with quick little comments when someone makes a judgment about my diabetes, but what’s shocking to me is that they STILL talk over me as if I don’t know what I’m saying. I’m still very young(19), and I realize that that means a lot of people don’t take me seriously. And I also realize that not all diabetics have had such a horrible experience dealing with the way their peers or those around them comment about their diabetes. It just feels, sometimes, as if there’s no point even standing up for myself because I’m still not listened to. I’ll keep trying, and I’ll update if things get better over time. I think a lot of it has to do with my approach, which I’ve begun consciously working on. Thank you for your insight!

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Emma… I have been in the restaurant business for 35 years. As an owner and a type one diabetic my staff sort of knows what to look for when I start acting goofy. A lot of the comments you are getting from your coworkers probably are not meant to be A personal attack on you. It’s a difficult disease to manage in and less you are in the trenches like you and I are no one else really understands. I get those comments about what I can and cannot eat almost daily. They are well-meaning But they just do not understand. In reality most people are very good and have your best interest at heart. They don’t come across the way you would like them too but I guarantee you they wish you no harm.

a quick update:

I had a coworker come up to me yesterday while i was sitting in the corner injecting incredibly discreetly, and loudly said “so how many times a day do you have to shoot up”. i’ve had a lot of patience with this issue so far, but after that comment, i decided i needed to report it. that’s not curiosity or misunderstanding a disease, that’s being insensitive and trying to find humor in a disease that isn’t the slightest bit funny. I appreciate everyone’s support, I’m hoping this takes a better turn.