What the beep did you just say?

Ok. This post is for people without diabetes. We gotta talk about something: beeping and what beeping means for people with diabetes. Why do we need to address this? Because I recently heard the following statement:

“Yeah this woman at my old office had diabetes and her pump was always beeping at her, I think she didn’t take care of herself and had pretty bad control.”

Ok – for all you PWDs, take a deep breath. For those of you without diabetes, let’s unpack this statement a little bit. Insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, and regular glucose monitors beep for a variety of reasons. Pumps beep when your insulin reservoir hits a certain level to remind you that you’ll need a refill – soon-ish. CGMs beeps to tell you when you your blood sugar is heading up or down, and that you might want to do something about it.  Patch pump systems, like mine, beep at you to tell you that your Pod expires in a few hours. Pumps beep when the battery is getting low. My point here is that ‘betes gear beeps for a variety of reasons, and almost none of them are life-threatening. The only time a beep will tell you about an urgent situation is if your pump is clogged and you’re not getting insulin and you need to change your infusion set right away. Otherwise, beeps are generally used as reminders for folks with diabetes, because we have about 1,000 things to think about every day.

The take away point here though is this: under no circumstances is the amount of gear-beepage related to how well someone manages their diabetes. The audio warnings provided by our gear are in fact tools for better control, and as I mentioned before, help us remember what we need to do when we need to do it. The amount of beeps emitted from pumps, CGMs, and meters never indicate ” how well a person takes care of herself.” So please, if someone you know with diabetes has some hardware that barks alot, keep your beeping comments to yourself about their control.  That person knows what the beep means and will adjust accordingly, without any judgey comments about what’s going on with their diabetes.

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I work at a retail bank and some times I used to “not hear” when my pump would beep (pre-regnancy). Now since I am so much more aware of my numbers (for Nr.2’s sake) I am jumping all over my pump when my CGMonitoring is nagging about a future low/high.

At first people here wouldn’t say anything about it, maybe because they didn’t know me. Then as they heard it more and more they started asking me why it’s doing that. Then once I explained it to them, they got more comfortable… maybe too comfortable because they’ll “tease” saying my pump is singing/yelling at me/about to explode. And they do it as the first beep comes out. Not when I’ve ignored the first three beeping sequences and now it’s doing that “bomb is about to detenate” alert, but as I reach for it to see why the first beep beeped. I just want to snap at them and say “I know! That’s why I’m reaching for it, dumb-dumb.” But I don’t. I just smile. And then they proceed to stare as I press a few buttons, make a few more beeps and then clip it to the back of my pants. Then they look/walk away.

Really? Really? Wow. Some people. This ain’t a freak show. Just a dysfunctional pancreas show. Seriously.

Kind of unrelated, but you reminded me of it:

My husband and I go to a restaurant that has a beepy credit card machine. Every time someone runs a card, I have to force myself not to check my pump.

Maybe it means they’re not taking very good care of their finances. 🙂

I also love how every person thinks they are the first person to make a ‘video game’ joke….HILARIOUS….I also have one friend who ‘teases’ me about how having my meter, pump, and CGMS means I’m lazy because I have all this equipment to ‘do it all for me’…..There’s no point in even explaining sometimes. If he only knew the work it takes!

Elizabeth! You crack me up – seriously everyone thinks they are so original with those jokes. Also it totally drives me crazy how people think that pumps and CGMs do everything for you – like you said, if they only knew how much brain power goes into managing this disease every day!

Jacquie – I have so many experiences like that! From songs on the radio to restaurants with beepy machines like the one you mentioned, sometime you think you’re going nuts. The funniest though was when I gave a talk at a Type 1 diabetes education program and I thought I was going crazy from all the beeping I was hearing. Turned out it was just everybody else’s meters and pumps beeping! But that’s the only time it was a legitimate confusion 🙂

Hahahaha – Recebeca – loving the quote “this ain’t a freak show. Just a dysfunctional pancreas show…” Good one!

I can’t help but comment here. I have a friend with low vision who is more “aware” of sounds than others, and she used to comment every time my pump made a noise, so I resorted to vibration mode on my pump, and it keeps the “awareness” of my diabetes to a minimum among friends. I’m generally the first one to share about diabetes and educate, but sometimes, I just want it left alone. You definitely struck a cord with me. Thanks.

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