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Diabetic Balks After Blood-Phobic Coworker Demands He Check His Blood Sugar In The Bathroom

Towfiqu Barbhuiya/EyeEm/ Getty images

For people with diabetes, the ability to monitor their blood sugar levels could literally be the difference between life and death.

But are there ever instances where it’s necessary to alter that routine in order to appease someone else?

Diabetic Redditor independentask42 recently had an issue with a squeamish coworker, so he turned to the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) to see if he was in the wrong.

He asked:

“AITA for checking my blood sugar at my desk when my coworker has a severe blood phobia?”

The original poster (OP) explained his work situation and how it plays into checking his blood sugar.

“I (24M[ale]) enjoy my job and have two coworkers, Megan (25F[emale]) and our new coworker James (23M) who just started.”

“The three of us each have our own office space, but because we have to frequently collaborate on work throughout the day we are often at each other’s desks.”

“I am a type 1 diabetic, I give insulin and check my blood sugar throughout the day as needed. I give insulin through a pump so that’s not an issue.”

“Checking my blood sugar involves pricking my finger to draw a drop of blood, the blood gets sucked up into a test strip that is connected to a glucose meter, and the meter displays the reading. The whole process takes like 10 seconds.”

His new coworker, however, had an issue with it.

“I was checking my blood sugar in my office right when James walked over. Immediately, his face went white, he looked like he was about to puke or faint or maybe both.”

“I was like, dude are you okay? He told me that he has a major blood and needle phobia and gets therapy for it.”

“I explained what I was doing and why it was necessary and he said it’s ‘freaky’ that I have to MAKE myself bleed multiple times a day. He told me he never wants to accidentally walk in on me checking my blood sugar again because he could pass out.”

The OP tried to offer some solutions, but the coworker was adamant.

“I said that if I’m checking my blood sugar and hear him coming over I can call out a warning like ‘give me a sec!’. He said that won’t work, just knowing that I’m doing that just before he comes over is enough to freak him out, and that he would be stressed that I might not hear him walking over.”

“He told me I should check it in the bathroom from now on. I told him that I don’t think I should have to do that and it’s unsanitary.”

“He said another option was if I only check my blood sugar at certain times, say 9am, 12pm before eating lunch, and 4pm, that way he’d know when to avoid me. I said these things can’t always be predicted, I’ll need to check if I feel my blood sugar going high or low.”

With neither party willing to budge, it’s now become a race to HR.

“He said he understands that I have diabetes but that he also has a special need (his blood phobia) that needs to be accommodated and that he doesn’t want to have to avoid me at work and only talk to Megan for fear he might see me checking again.”

“He said he’ll talk to HR about this and that he’ll tell them that I refused to compromise with him.”

“That was last Thursday before the holidays, tomorrow I’m thinking of going to talk to HR before James does, but first I need to know that I’m in the right here.”

“So AITA for not being more accommodating of James’ blood/needle phobia and checking my blood sugar as needed at my desk?”

The OP later edited his post to add some details about his office setup.

“To clarify something, James cannot see me test my blood sugar unless he is literally standing in my doorway. It’s not a communal-style workplace. I do not test in common areas, only in my office.”

Redditors weighed in on the situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

They assured the OP he has every right to check his blood sugar whenever and wherever he sees fit.


“Your blood sugar being too high or low could literally kill you.”

“You did offer to compromise- you offered to warn him if you heard him coming over.”

“The bathroom is not sanitary for checking blood sugar.”

“Is he also going to ask HR to remove all the paper in case he gets a paper cut?”—Sleepy_felines

“NTA. This is a medical condition that far supersedes his phobia.”—Talathia

“His phobia won’t kill him, your diabetes could. He needs to learn to deal with it.”—9mackenzie

“NTA. Go to HR. Just knowing you’re doing it makes him uncomfortable?”

“He isn’t making sense: ‘check [your] blood sugar at certain times…'”

“‘Oh look it’s 12 pm just in time for OP to—’ *passes out*”—DippedChurro

“Your issue is a physical/medical necessity. James can always call you if he needs to talk, or give warning when he’s coming by. You have offered compromises; he has offered nothing.”—Seeker131313

If the coworker thinks a finger prick is bad…

“Wait until he hears about menstruation.”—ConfidenceInRain

“Pretty soon women won’t even be allowed to work during their period because just knowing their bodies are doing *that* next to him will be enough to freak him out.”—Uhmitsme123

Although there was some debate about whether or not it’s more hygienic to check your blood sugar in a bathroom.

“I was told to use the bathroom to check blood sugar, because handwashing before and after.”—dorianrose

“You can/should carry alcohol swabs so you can check anytime or anywhere without delay!”—varbie_96

“Unfortunately alcohol swabs aren’t always enough. If you’ve eaten food recently then you need to wash your hands with soap and water before testing, so any food residue on your hands doesn’t interfere with the results.”

“At least, that’s what my Endocrinologist told me.”—TheOriginalTash

“I would still not stay in the bathroom to do the blood check, bc droplets are real and especially prevalent in commercial bathrooms.”

“A lot more poop and pee water is atomized into the air due to the high pressure flushing of those toilets compared to residential models.”

“This is why many places have health codes that require commercial restrooms—especially in restaurants—build that vestibule thing with 2 doors and tiny empty room separating the main area from the area with the toilets in it.”

“It’s basically an airlock to keep the high concentrations of potentially pathogenic droplets from being sucked out then settling on a bunch of surfaces that aren’t scrubbed with bleach and chemicals every day the way a bathroom is.”

“So.. Yeah. Might want to ask your endocrinologist about that. I’d be happy to get them in touch with my research immunobiologist friend.”—fancydecanter

“I seriously doubt the amount of feces atomized in the air is going to pose a health risk to anyone testing their blood sugar.”

“I work in a building attached to a hospital, and we don’t even have double doors to get in the bathroom…and the hospital itself doesn’t even have doors on half of its bathrooms…you just go around a corner.”

“And the double doors are not an airlock. They don’t even touch the ground, and it isn’t like bathrooms have negative pressure.”

“Anyway, the CDC recommends single use for lancets…so the amount of time anything is going to be exposed to potential contaminants is negligible.”

“Regardless of that, OP should still be able to test their blood at their desk. It is such a minor thing and their coworker could always call their desk quickly to make sure they aren’t testing their blood before he pops by.”—ProbablyNotADuck

Hopefully the OP and his coworker can come to an arrangement that satisfies both parties. But if the coworker is unwilling to budge, it seems unlikely that HR would take his side.

Written by Brian Skellenger

Brian is an actor, musician, writer, babysitter, and former Olympian. One of these things is a lie. Based in NYC, Brian honed his skills in the suburbs of Minneapolis, where he could often be seen doing jazz squares down the halls of his middle school. After obtaining a degree in musical theatre, he graced the stages of Minneapolis and St. Paul before making the move to NYC. In his spare time, Brian can be found playing board games, hitting around a volleyball, and forcing friends to improvise with him.