Wednesday, October 22, 2014

When Rights Collide

I talk a lot about rights at work. What rights people have. What rights they think they have but they really don't - no matter how much they might want them. And how to advocate for those rights. The biggest challenge with teaching rights seems to be those grey areas when my rights infringe on someone else's rights and how we know whose rights trump whose.

A conversation at work yesterday got me thinking about rights when it comes to diabetes.  We were talking about a situation that happened outside of work and chatting about how the rights of a person with diabetes have equal (not more or less) weight than the rights of those around them.

Case in point:

I strongly believe in not hiding the fact that I have diabetes. My pump is visible most of the time. I tell people I have diabetes. I blog about having diabetes. I check my blood sugar in public.

I don't personally feel that any of these things are a big deal. And I am perfectly confident in saying that I have the right to do all of those things.

Let's explore a little deeper.

I check my blood sugar in public. By that I mean that I don't go off to the washroom to check it where no one can see me. I don't wait to get home to do it. I don't go to my car to do it. Instead, I usually open my glucometer, plop it on my lap, prick my finger, test, lick off any remaining blood from my finger, put kit away, move on with my day.

Does anyone have a problem with any of these steps?

What if I were to change some of them a little.

What if, instead of putting the glucometer on my lap, I put it on the table?

What it I plopped it on the table and pricked my finger during a staff meeting, with people sitting on either side of me?

What if I did this while they were eating lunch?

What if I wiped my finger on the underside of the chair rather than lick it off? Or on a stark white napkin?

I have no doubt about my right to check my blood sugar in public.

But what about a colleague's right to have their lunch without having to watch me draw blood? What about the fact that my droplet of blood, which seems so innocent and familiar to me, is technically a biohazard for everyone around me?

I could easily argue that people have the right to eat in a safe environment free of biohazardous materials. And I could also argue that I have the right to check my blood sugar in public.

But in a simple example like this one, whose rights trump whose?

I could get all uppity about it and insist the I have the right to test right there on the table and that no one can stop me. I could insist on doing it in a place where everyone has no choice but to see what I'm doing - blood and needle squeamishness be damned. I could insist on doing it right beside people having their lunches.

I could do all of those things but I don't actually do any of them. I don't do them because I want my diabetes to be part of the daily routine at work without making it more than it is. Everyone knows I have diabetes - there is no need to rub it in their faces.

I know my solution. I came up with it years ago without any real conscious thought. I always put my glucometer on my lap. People may know what I'm doing but no one else see it. No one see the finger prick. No one sees the blood droplet. And no one sees the number flash on the screen either. My own little nod to the right to privacy.

I have the right to test in public. I have the right to privacy re the number that shows up on the screen.

My colleagues have the right to eat their lunches without seeing blood.

Fair is fair.

1 comment:

  1. Your approach sounds about right. I, too, try to keep the blood out of other people's sight without suggesting that in some way it's taboo, unhygienic, gross, etc. When I need to know my blood sugar, I need to know. I wouldn't be testing in the middle of a meeting, if I didn't think something was going on that needed my attention, eh?