A man with Type 1 diabetes is on a mission to raise awareness of the illness, after a passerby thought he was injecting himself with illegal drugs.
Ben Lockwood, 26, took to Facebook to explain that his blood sugar levels were high on his way home from work so he gave himself an insulin injection while waiting for the bus. To his surprise, a man nearby remarked: “You can’t do that in a public place you druggie scum bag.”
Lockwood, who is from London, spent the next five minutes educating the man about diabetes and why he needed the injection. He has since shared his experience on social media to raise awareness of the condition.
After his post went viral, Diabetes UK praised the 26-year-old for speaking out. They said patients shouldn’t feel stigmatised for administering treatment and added that putting off an insulin injection, for fear of upsetting other people, could have “very serious effects”.
Regular insulin injections are a daily reality for many of the 4.5 million people in the UK living with diabetes. Yet awareness of the condition could be greater.
Lockwood shared a photo of the orange NovoRapid cartridge on Facebook and explained that after he’d finished describing what it’s like to live with Type 1 diabetes, the stranger who had called him a “druggie scum bag” gave him a hug and apologised.
“I’m gonna use this experience in the most positive way possible, I’m gonna start spreading more awareness about Type 1 diabetes,” Lockwood explained.
“The picture below is of my NovoRapid, it’s in a bright orange cartridge, as you can see. If you or anyone ever has any doubts or concerns over someone injecting or testing in a public place: 1) please realise it takes a lot of courage to do that kind of thing in public, 2) just bloody ask once they’ve finished, a little privacy is just common courtesy and 3) we don’t need any pity, just understanding.
“I’m sure most diabetics would agree with me and be pleased to talk about anything you have worries over.”
His post struck a chord with the public, especially people with diabetes and their families. It was shared more than 45,000 times, with over 67,000 reactions.
People with Type 2 diabetes were quick to add that they too experience this level of ignorance when they inject themselves publicly. Sarah Woolward wrote: “I think everyone needs educating about it... I’m Type 2 and have recently been through hell due to being seen injecting insulin.”
Angela Lyons added: “I’m Type 2 but still have to check my sugar levels and find it embarrassing. Some people have no tact. You are a great person for sharing your story.”
Kathryn Kirchner, clinical advisor for Diabetes UK, told HuffPost UK: “Ben’s story highlights a worrying lack of knowledge about this serious condition, something we are committed to changing.
“People with diabetes shouldn’t feel ashamed about their condition nor should they have to hide away to administer vital treatment. It’s great that Ben is using his experience in this positive way.”
She added: “People with diabetes need to regularly monitor and control their blood glucose levels and putting off an insulin injection, because you are worried about upsetting people around you, can have very serious effects.”