Growing up I remember hearing about everything that I wasn’t supposed to do at the dinner table. No toys at the table. No elbows on the table. No TV while we eat. This clearly sent the message that the place where we commune to share a meal is special, different than other places in the house, and there are rules here. When Anabel was first diagnosed I decided we would go out to dinner on day 3. I needed her to know that she could still do the things that she previously enjoyed. When the food came it was time for a blood glucose check with her meter and an insulin injection. (For people with T1D, who are insulin dependent, every meal starts with a Blood Glucose check and a dosing of insulin). Anabel looked visibly uncomfortable. I asked her, “Do you want to do this in the bathroom?” She nodded silently.
So we crept into the bathroom with her supplies tucked under my arm like we had done something wrong. We were hiding like we had a dirty little secret. Thankfully, once we entered the bathroom we realized no one was there. About 2 months after her diagnosis we moved and she started to see a new care team. We decided at that point that we wanted to start to explore the possibility of an insulin pump and attended an informational meeting at the local hospital one evening. One of her nurses, who is also diabetic, said during the meeting “We are not ashamed of our condition and we do not check our blood sugars and dose insulin in the bathroom when we are out.” My mind immediately went back to that night in the restaurant. I realized something, maybe Anabel was ashamed of her condition. I needed to be sure that moving forward we didn’t hide in the bathroom.
Like in many homes dinner time is a valued experience. When we dine we share stories, laugh and support each other. There is something special and unique about this one place and the time spent there. I know that this is certainly not unique to people of color. Just like eating a nutritious meal is integral to everyone’s wellness and daily lives, Anabel’s routine care for her diabetes is a crucial part of her overall well-being. Because of this her routine is not something that we will hide. It has a place at the table.