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 shit 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.