Diabetes, needles & insulin shots at the breakfast table

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Madeleine's picture
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Multiple issues here. A guest brought a hypo into the dining room today, opened the guest fridge and took out the insulin. Proceeded to fill his hypo and sit down at the table.

I have a few issues with this. A) I have no idea where that hypo went when the guest was done (in the kitchen trash, back to the room trash?); B) I am personally skeeved by watching injections; C) as the host is it my place to say something in case guests are feeling this way as well?

I saw the hypo again on the dining room table but did not see it used. I am concerned they didn't mention it to me so we would be aware of its presence in the trash, whichever trash that might be. Anyone could have dropped a spoon in the kitchen trash and reached in to pick it up. The housekeeper could have poked herself with it emptying the trash in the rooms.

Is there some sort of etiquette for this? I will say this has happened maybe once before (that the hypo has been visibly present at the table). I've seen the kits in the fridge before but I think most people have walked away from the other guests. I don't get why they don't go back to their rooms.

 

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I am so grateful for this thread!  The other innkeeper came up to me today with eyes wide, "That lady must be a diabetic!".  I said, "You found a needle in the trash, didn't you?"  She was stunned.  

As I often do, I started with, "Well, on the innkeeper site they said..."  (I think everyone's getting tired of hearing that line *lol*)   BUT - I mentioned that everyone was just talking about it and that we need to be very careful when emptying trash cans.  Luckily, the needle was capped, but it really freaked her out.

swirt's picture
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Insulin Dependent Diabetic here.  Been that way since I was three.  Modesty in shot giving is admirable... but at the same time when you are used to giving 3-4/day, 1,400/year, 14,000/decade, 84,000/lifetime .... you see how the numbers add up.  Modesty doesn't have to go out the window... but it often does.  Some do it because they aren't modest, some do it because they are attention hounds.

As far as what I would say...  nobody likes to be scolded for being who they are.  Scold them, and you will probably never see them again (only you can decide whether that is the desired effect you want).  These may not be great analogies... but it is an example of the difficulty in drawing these kind of lines:

  • Would you suggest that a guest who is an amputee cover their artificial leg because it makes people uncomfortable?
  • Would you suggest that a guest with a tracheotomy stomata wear a turtle-neck because it makes people uncomfortable?
  • Would you suggest that a guest taking a barrage of pills take them in their room rather than at the table because some people have gag reflexes when they see others taking pills?

Regarding the issue of disposal.  Sure pharmacies accept syringes for disposal....that is a relatively recent thing.... If I am traveling, am I going to run off to the pharmacy every day?  That's just not realistic.  Yes people should travel with a sharps container...but these guests are the same ones that forget to pack toothpaste, and leave cameras behind.  In all the "should haves" life happens and things don't get planned for accordingly.

I'm on a pump now, so the daily injections are no longer an issue for me.

All the years of syringes and lancets and trash emptying, the number of times I got stuck accidentally.... 0.  It doesn't mean that it can't happen, but the insulin syringes have very small needles and fairly tight caps.   Nurses and physicians are trained to never try to recap a syringe, but diabetics do it pretty regularly.

Best to train staff and yourselves in the same methods custodians are trained for in hospitals.   "NEVER NEVER NEVER pack down or crush a trash bag."  You never know what can stick you.... syringe, broken bottle, broken wine glass, bent coat hanger, steak knife, jagged plastic.  It is just a safe habit to build.

 

 

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swirt wrote:

"... Scold them, and you will probably never see them again..."

  • Would you suggest that a guest who is an amputee cover their artificial leg because it makes people uncomfortable?
  • Would you suggest that a guest with a tracheotomy stomata wear a turtle-neck because it makes people uncomfortable?
  • Would you suggest that a guest taking a barrage of pills take them in their room rather than at the table because some people have gag reflexes when they see others taking pills?

  You're likely to not see other guests if they are being put off by others with medical issues.   If a medically necessary procedure can be done in private,  it's only considerate to do so.   Obviously, some conditions are visible and the other guests will have to deal with it.

I have to ask you,  where you draw the line.  Would you allow someone to change out a catheter or colostomy bag at the breakfast table?  Of course you wouldn't.   I think commons sense and common courtesy should rule, but when it doesn't, a sidebar is in order.  It IS your home,  so your rules should govern.

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swirt wrote:

Insulin Dependent Diabetic here.  Been that way since I was three.  Modesty in shot giving is admirable... but at the same time when you are used to giving 3-4/day, 1,400/year, 14,000/decade, 84,000/lifetime .... you see how the numbers add up.  Modesty doesn't have to go out the window... but it often does.  Some do it because they aren't modest, some do it because they are attention hounds.

As far as what I would say...  nobody likes to be scolded for being who they are.  Scold them, and you will probably never see them again (only you can decide whether that is the desired effect you want).  These may not be great analogies... but it is an example of the difficulty in drawing these kind of lines:

  • Would you suggest that a guest who is an amputee cover their artificial leg because it makes people uncomfortable?
  • Would you suggest that a guest with a tracheotomy stomata wear a turtle-neck because it makes people uncomfortable?
  • Would you suggest that a guest taking a barrage of pills take them in their room rather than at the table because some people have gag reflexes when they see others taking pills?

Regarding the issue of disposal.  Sure pharmacies accept syringes for disposal....that is a relatively recent thing.... If I am traveling, am I going to run off to the pharmacy every day?  That's just not realistic.  Yes people should travel with a sharps container...but these guests are the same ones that forget to pack toothpaste, and leave cameras behind.  In all the "should haves" life happens and things don't get planned for accordingly.

I'm on a pump now, so the daily injections are no longer an issue for me.

All the years of syringes and lancets and trash emptying, the number of times I got stuck accidentally.... 0.  It doesn't mean that it can't happen, but the insulin syringes have very small needles and fairly tight caps.   Nurses and physicians are trained to never try to recap a syringe, but diabetics do it pretty regularly.

Best to train staff and yourselves in the same methods custodians are trained for in hospitals.   "NEVER NEVER NEVER pack down or crush a trash bag."  You never know what can stick you.... syringe, broken bottle, broken wine glass, bent coat hanger, steak knife, jagged plastic.  It is just a safe habit to build.

 

I'm sorry, Swirt, but this is nonsense. If you have been insulin dependent for so long, then you certainly have been instructed in a protocol for disposing of your needles that will not put other people at risk. I find it hard to believe that you would put forgetting a sharps container for your needles in the same category as forgetting your toothpaste! Are you serious?

For you to say that "best to train staff and yourselves in the same methods custodians are trained in...." is an absurd, arrogant, and narcissistic statement.

I can't imagine a person so incompetent in managing her long-standing insulin dependency that she has to shoot up after eating a muffin at my breakfast table. That's just crazy!

We have diabetics staying with us occasionally. They tell us of their condition, and we ask what sorts of dietary accommodations we need to make. This is not a big deal.

But, my God, to put sharps in our trash is absolutely unacceptable. If you have given yourself as many shots as you claim from whatever juvenile age you began doing so, then you surely know how to dispose of your needles without expecting us to miraculously know that there are sharps in our trash.

Are you that arrogant?

Or are you just trying to prove something?

 

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Yowsa, HML!  surprise

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no

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Madeleine's picture
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HighMountainLodge wrote:

Are you that arrogant?

Or are you just trying to prove something?

 

A bit over the top there, HML.

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Well said, Swirt!  All innkeepers and their staff (whomever that might be) should be very careful with guest trash (and your own trash, if you're a spaz like me and break stuff and chuck it in the trash sometimes without wrapping it in something!).  And wear gloves when cleaning. 

But, I think that a little discretion with injections in a communal setting is probably a good idea...sometimes the sight of even the tiniest needle going into human flesh makes some folks get light headed.  indecision

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swirt wrote:

Best to train staff and yourselves in the same methods custodians are trained for in hospitals.   "NEVER NEVER NEVER pack down or crush a trash bag."  You never know what can stick you.... syringe, broken bottle, broken wine glass, bent coat hanger, steak knife, jagged plastic.  It is just a safe habit to build.

You got that! DH did that the week before we moved across the Pacific from Australia and cut his hand wide open and ended up in the ER. Talk about stressed out...

Madeleine's picture
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I do have the same problem with a handful of pills at the table. Too many guests miss all of the pills and then I'm left to scoop them up before someone else sits down. Do I throw them out? Are they really important pills? Will the guest come back looking for them?

I don't think pills and/or injections belong at a common dining area. But it was my own squeamishness that brought the question up.

As far as the other situations- guests can't help being amputees or having medical devices. Guests CAN help the pills and the needles at the table. And not securing the medications.

Joey Camb's picture
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think people should be more carefull with their pills - had a lady today who had to take 12 a day! mind you she didn't leave any. its true you just don't know how important they are

However don't object to them at the table as some have to be taken with food.

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Some long term diabetics are just way too casual about their insulin injections - where they do it, how they handle their supplies, disposal of used items.  I kept a sharps container here and never had anyone ask about how they could dispose of their used syringes.  Hopefully, people were using the pen more.  But really the odds are that those things hit the trash.  As a nurse, I am naturally very cautious about handling trash, but I had to talk to my part-time housekeeper about being aware of the possibility of any kind of sharps and other stuff in the trash.  People just throw stuff away without thinking...

Country Girl's picture
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Maddie, I would love to know how you handled that. We have a diabetic guest who comes several times a year and I've seen him injecting himself in the living room and I've never known what to say. It's never been when other guests are around, which is good.

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Madeleine's picture
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When the guest was filling the hypo no one else was around but me. I left the room because it was making me nauseous. The guest went back toward the room and I thought all was good. Then I saw the hypo on the table. At that point I didn't want to draw more attention to it as no one else seemed to notice (we have separate tables).

That's kind of why I asked here. Has anyone else explained that the other guests don't know this is diabetes and may have an averse reaction?

AND, where do the hypos go?

I did not handle this well.

Joey Camb's picture
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could you say something like could you just confirm for me that you are disposing of your needles in a secure and safe way? - I am sure they have a sharps tin with them but it gives you peace of mind.

Joey Camb's picture
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in the uk expired meds go to the pharmacy and they send them off to be destroyed - any pharmacy ie high street drug store etc

in the UK most insulin diabetics have gone over to the pen type which retracts the sharp inside the body of the pen at least when traveling as its much easier to store and manage than a bottle and syringe.

Would never be acceptable to do it at the breakfast table in front of guests!

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Maybe it was an emergency so they had to use the insulin immediately, not a maintenance shot.

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My mother was a severe diabetic and had to take shots twice daily.  She never would have taken it other than the privacy of her home - or other private place if away from home.  She was very sensitive about others.  She also kept all her needles etc and disposed of them when she returned home as she knew how to deal with them in her locale.

One thing to mention here is that you always need to be careful with guest trash... you never know when one may have disposed of a needle.  This one you saw, but you will never know how many insulin dependent diabetics have stayed with you in the past. 

The good news is that most are going to the new pen type and the needle is kept hidden before and after use. 

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Are there any laws stating what has to be done with the needles? My dad was a diabetic and had to give himself shots and constantly take his sugar via a needle prick. I did the same when I was pregnant with gestational diabetes, but it never occured to either of us that there may be laws in different areas.

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Oh My...that would really creep me out....I'm not a big fan of needles either.

By all means, speak to the person in private and kindly request that they take care of their medical needs in private.  I would request that they take their used medical supplies with them when they leave.  With the threat of blood-born disease you really do not need any unexpected pricks.   

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I have a friend who sticks herself before the meal. She usually uses the pen thing. But there are time when I have seen her use the syringe and stick herself right in the abdomen surprise Most times it is in the arm.

But she never leave it behind.

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We have only one guest that has put the syringe into the trash. They did keep the sharp part out, but it freaked me out, because you aren't supposed to put either in the trash around here, you are supposed to take them to the pharmacy where they are recycled and dealt with safely.

I certainly would tell the guest that you would appreciate that they did that in the privacy of their own room and that other guests may get upset with seeing it.

They don't really think about it and how others see it. You just get desensitized to it after a time. It's like gas, when love is new you run out of the room, hide in the bathroom and make noise so that no one hears what you have to do. But after 20 years of marriage, you don't even leave the room Smiling

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OMG!!! you are just to funny!!!!!! Eric.

I would be not like to find the pen or needle in the trash. This is not smart.  Just let him know you would appreciate if he would drop the syringe  off at the Pharmacy. He just may not know where he could get rid of it.?????

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Generic's picture
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Sharps are never supposed to be put in the garbage, you are supposed to carry a special container to hold them until they are taken to the pharmacy.

Around here, all pharmacies accept expired medication and used syringes for proper disposal.

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

Around here, all pharmacies accept expired medication...

How sensible. Here, you have to take them to a bin at the police station. Can you imagine the hours spent by some, trying to figure out how to steal that bin!

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Arkansawyer wrote:

How sensible. Here, you have to take them to a bin at the police station. Can you imagine the hours spent by some, trying to figure out how to steal that bin!

Pharmacies around here also dispense daily treatments to some. They have to go to the pharmacy every day and sign in and take their medication on the spot. (Methadone for example.) Seems to me to be a logical place to put your sharps and take your expired medications.

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