Diabetes is a disability

Diabetes is a disability. My body has its limitations like many people’s bodies do. Enabled insulin producing pancreatic bodies can eat, drink, and gorge with whatever it is they want to without having to even think about their blood sugar levels or what is consumed. I can try my hardest not to think about it; nonetheless if I just eat, the truth is that my blood sugar will rise and ultimately I will die. I am disabled in that my blood sugars don’t regulate themselves automatically. I am disabled in that every time I eat/drink something I have to measure the amount of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and sodium in each morsel, and correctly math that with an insulin dose if I am earnestly trying to keep healthy. I am disabled in that even if that dosage works one day, it may not work the next, and my blood sugars and body suffer the consequences. I am disabled in that if I choose not to count nutrition facts or estimate accurately enough, my blood sugars go too low or too high. Non-diabetics have fantastic blood sugar control and it is automatically regulated by the body.

In case you are unaware, when someone’s blood sugar rises above average levels, it essentially disintegrates and destroys your nerves throughout your whole body, which is one of the reasons why this disease causes so many complications and kills as many people as AIDS does. When you are high you die. If it so happens I splurge and eat a bunch of junk, it is more likely that I will enter into ketoacidosis, where the body eats away at itself and its organs until your are dead, or the hospital staff lowers your blood sugar quick enough to save your life. I am disabled by the fact that I can only consume one or two items off of certain restaurants selections without it having destructive effects on my blood sugar levels; that is if there are no hidden carb-laden ingredients in a sauce or whatnot. Food is toxic for a diabetic if appropriate measures are not taken.

I am disabled in that wherever and everywhere I go, I must be sure to bring with me insulin bottles, syringes, alcohol swabs, a freezer pack to keep the insulin cool, a blood glucose monitoring meter, test strips, a lancet device, cotton swabs, a logbook, and glucose tablets. Am I forgetting anything? And if I stay over at a friend’s, it is an obligation to bring over a glucagon shot and glucose gel; as well as inform my friend of my condition and how to take care of me if I am low at night or for how to take care of my convulsing body if I have a diabetic seizure caused by low blood sugar. The person with an abled beta cell secreting fully functioning pancreas does not have to experience or even consider any of these things I am speaking of. Without such a pancreas, you must take multiple shots (or have a machine hooked up to you 24/7) and blood tests daily for your whole life at the minimum to help regulate your blood sugars. Diabetes is disabling in that I have to experience it every day, whether I like it or not. It is constant, never ending, your whole lifetime. It doesn’t matter how you feel about it, no emotion will take it away. Denial especially. There is no choice.

It is disabling in that if I have a low blood sugar, I have to quit doing whatever it is I’m doing, sit down, and eat food/carbohydrates and wait at least 15 minutes until it rises or else ultimately I will die. I can be low in any situation in life and I HAVE to stop whatever it is I’m doing and find food or drink quickly. My consciousness fades away as blood sugar levels decline; I become shakier and shakier, sweaty, mentally fatigued, confused and disoriented; and if the circumstance is uncontrolled enough, I will pass out, have seizures and death will result.

I am disabled in that my body is a pin needle cushion embodying a 21 year caricature of scar tissue. I throw needles into carbon flesh dartboards and purple blood squirts out the punctures. Bull's eye! I must accept that; I must accept how the holes from needles affects my body and my self image. I am disabled in that exercise can either lower, raise, or keep the blood sugar stable, and I have to manage that erratic process -- for example by eating before exercise and wondering if I will eat too much and get a high BG and give myself a shot, too little and get a low BG and stop exercising and eat food, or maybe I will get it just right. I am disabled in that some nights I have to wake up a test my blood sugar, test it again later, correct, and hope I don’t awaken from a seizure.

There is more than you see to it all. It is not just give a shot for the day and I’m fine. I am not okay, you see. I am not okay when you try to persuade and manipulate my emotions into eating something that will hurt me on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels in the end. Don’t shove that ■■■■ in my face that I can’t eat. I decide what enters my body, not you. Your body is not the same as mine. It is obvious you do not understand what I need or what is normal for me.

There is no magic cure. Magic is in diabetes, perception, and pain. Magic is in disability. I finally am a six of hearts and diamonds, swimming deep into twilight spinning labyrinths, scavenging four leaf clovers. While y’all don’t even real eyes its already incorporated in your bag of tricks.

If diabetes does not qualify as a disability I do not understand what does.

Who are you talking to? Do you want a placard for your dashboard so you can park closer to the store? I read your whole thing thinking, "Well, there's gotta be a point to this... somewhere..." But it just ended up sounding like a pity party goin' on. What are you looking for, exactly?


"disability" is sort of a loaded term in the USA as, if you are "disabled", you can file a claim and, if you get approved, you can get $$$ for it. This disinclines people to think of people w/ diabetes as "disabled" since, of course, there are lots of us who do stuff people with no limbs (besides Oscar Pistorius...) long to do. The $$ expense of diabetes should be tax deductable, including deductables, out of pocket test strips because insurance companies are assholes about them, jellybeans and other medical expenses that currently aren't worth a whole lot but that we have to do to survive. I still think there's worse things to have than diabetes but I don't think that there's another disease where you are mired in as much data. If insurance companies want us to log data for them, I think that we should be able to bill for it, get a CPT code to go along with our DX 250.xx whatever.

greenclouds, I hope that the person to whom you wrote that blog post gets to read it, and gets it! Sorry you're feeling so angry.

I'm sorry that you feel that way and are having a hard time with it, however I have never looked at my condition as a disability and would be offended if a doctor told me it was a disability. Diabetes definitely requires an adjustment to your lifestyle, but once you learn to adapt it is possible to live a normal healthy life.

It is a different take on disability but maybe you can find some comfort in this speech by Aimee Mullins.

Well it is part of the ADA. I was glad because the perk I had is that my company gave me a new large screen computer because my eyes are so bad. But the rest, I don't find it a diasability, I find it a way of life..

I understand the need to vent sometimes and that's the impression I get from this post. I write a lot of poetry and stories and blogs about how frustrated I am with being diabetic. It can be cathartic to get it off your chest but I'm worried because I don't sense any catharsis here. I hope that you can find a way to let some of that negative energy go. I agree with everyone else that disability is a strong word to apply to our situation. I don't want a pity party and I am not disabled. We are strong because we carry this weight on our shoulders and learn to stand tall.

You say in your second sentence "my body has limitations like many people's do." Limitation is a better word. Also, if everyone has some sort of limitation, then why does ours make us any more disabled than they are?



Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. To respond to some of the comments -- this is not a pity party for me, this is me expressing my rightious anger and related emotions/ideas involving diabetes. It is definitely cathartic and healing for me, probably one of the most healing things I've done with diabetes in a long time. I am not looking for anyone to feel sorry for me or help me, though I thank you for supporting me. I wrote this to heal, process, and release built up emotions from over the years that I held inside of me, and to share myself and creativity for those who wish to read or respond. I was not particularly looking for anything. I personally was not trying to compare this with other disabilities or say that diabetes is more of a disability than something else. I respect those who feel diabetes is not a disability, as I have felt that the majority of my life until recently. For me, diabetes is normal, but I can try to live as much to the 'normal' person's pancreas as I can, however it is just not the same as a healthy pancreas and it is disabling to me. Thanks acidrock for sharing that info, I was not aware of that. Shoshana I relate! type 1 diabetes seems real misunderstood, I like what you said on 'whatever agrees with me and my stomach.' Thank you everyone for your opinions and thoughts.

I don't know. To some degree, diabetes (T1) is like wearing glasses. If you forget your glasses, you can't see: if you forget your kit, you can't shoot up. Same diff. But, I don't think of wearing glasses as a disability anymore than I think of having to shoot up as a disability. It's just life with a busted pancreas: It's just life with a set of eyes that can't focus. Of course, there are going to be those here who disagree with me. That's fine. Whatever. We are all affected a bit differently by this, right?

In any case, I'm glad that writing the above diatribe made you feel better. That's something.


greenclouds thanks for understanding me.we all have issues but hhow we deal with them is something else.i grew up not being able to do what others did but i was a happy child doing my things my way,.

Michael, what you said...We are all affected a bit differently by this, right?...is the key. I know someone who felt truly disabled because of the need to wear glasses, so got lasix. greenclouds, glad you have a place to vent ;)