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Diabetes Still Isn't Easy
Diabetes Still Isn't Easy

FDI is dedicated to diabetes education, nutritional counseling, and wellness programming.

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You Have to Fight… For Your Rights…

I wish you only had to fight for your right to party, but sometimes you have to fight for your right to take care of your diabetes properly. You might expect that with so many people living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in our country, the general public would have a bit more knowledge about what is necessary to care for the condition. Unfortunately, it is more than likely that you will eventually encounter somebody who tries to tell you something like this:

  • “You can’t test your blood sugar here!”
  • “You can’t bring those needles on an airplane!”
  • “You can’t take a break to give yourself an insulin shot; you’re on the clock!”

Did you know that having diabetes protects you under the Americans with Disabilities Act? That means that if someone tries to keep you from caring for your diabetes, they are breaking the law! Diabetes is classified as a “disability” by our government; while you might not feel diabetes “disables” you, the title comes in handy when making sure you get the accommodations you need to care for your condition. Do you need to test your blood sugar on a train, airplane or bus? You can! Do you need to take your insulin in a restaurant or at work? You can! Do you need to bring juice through airport security in case you need it to treat a low blood sugar? You can! It is illegal for any person (or business or employer) to prevent you from taking any action that helps you manage your diabetes.

Take this example: You are job hunting. You know that you will require breaks to test your blood sugar and administer insulin during the day, but you don’t want this to affect your chances of getting the job. Do you know that an employer cannot ask you if you have any medical conditions on an interview, and that you are not required to disclose your diabetes? If you do choose to disclose that you have diabetes after you get the job, it is illegal for the employer to withdraw the job offer or even to ask you further questions about your medical condition. All the employer can ask is a specific question about how long the breaks need to be or what type of facilities you need. (You can find more specific examples of scenarios like this and how to handle them here: http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/diabetes.html)

Remember, most people are not intentionally trying to discriminate against people living with diabetes; it is usually a matter of misunderstanding. Everybody living with diabetes can be an advocate for themselves and others by helping to kindly teach those around us about diabetes truths.

If you feel that you’ve been discriminated against because of your diabetes, advocates from the American Diabetes Association can help you. Go to http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/know-your-rights/

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About the Author


Megan is a nutritionist and diabetes educator at the Friedman Diabetes Institute in New York.