Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's A Rap?!

You may surprised to learn that there are significant discrimination issues facing diabetics.

Since 1992 more than 2,000 people have filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) specifically stating they were mistreated at work as a result of their having diabetes. The discrimination problem can begin way before entrance into the job market though. Several "Diabetes Communities" websites report discrimination at school for children afflicted with Type 1. Discrimination can include prohibiting students from self-treating themselves and even conveniently not allowing Type 1's to play on sports teams or participate in after-school clubs. Recently, a woman on Tudiabetes.com explained how she was told she could not use the community pool in her housing development because she had a "port" which could infect the whole community. The "port" was actually her pump "site" and can be contained with a simple cap. However, she goes on to say that the HOA has sent her letters and has even threatened with an attorney, even though she pays a maintenance fee which goes to the upkeep of this community pool.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have been VERY lucky so far. I have not had really any of these dealings with discrimination and for that I feel very fortunate. However, I have had my 5-year old dream of becoming an astronaut shattered when I discovered Diabetics are not allowed to be astronauts. I understand NASA is funded through networks of politics (unfortunately :-( ) and therefore must not partake in anything "overly" risky, for fear these funds may be cut or eliminated. But, is it really the right message to be sending kids (who, by the way, did not choose to have this disease) that only healthy, normal people have the right to dream about becoming astronauts, since they will be the only ones considered anyway?

April's answer: No. I'm sorry NASA, but I have worked too hard for someone to tell me that I don't have the right to try to follow through on my dreams. Just because I have this life-threatening disease does not mean I get that "shot" to truncate my dreams and dismantle my goals. It does not mean I suddenly want to shift to a career in making insulin pumps instead of making rockets. And maybe unfortunately, because quite honestly it would be a lot easier to forget about that astronaut goal and be happy with something a little more "terrestrial." But it just doesn't work that way.

Bottom Line: Please don't discriminate against us Diabetics. We are people too, with dreams and goals and ideas. We can be Miss America (Nicole Johnson Baker), we can be famous actors (Halle Berry), we can be great scientists (Thomas Edison), we can be soul singers (Aretha Franklin), we can be gold medalists (Gary Hall Jr. ), we can be enduring authors (Ernest Hemingway), we can make movies (George Lucas, you know...Star Wars?), and we can even be aspiring rocket scientists (April Zuber)! We can do a lot, but there is still a lot left to do, both in the ways of overcoming discrimination initiated by mis-informed people and in finding a cure.

What you can do: if you don't understand Diabetes it is better to ask than assume. Trust me...it gets really annoying when people say..."Oh, you're a diabetic, you can't eat this, never mind." Seriously, please ask, if you are courageous enough to ask I would be more than willing to supply answers!! Then share these answers with your family and friends so even more people get informed. The more informed people are, the less discrimination there will be...and maybe someday I will even get to go into space!

PS: I found this Diabetes Rap online. It was the winner for the 2008 World Diabetes Day young voices video contest...its not professional...but its pretty funny!!

And if you have a diabetes question, you can leave a comment on this post. You can even ask anonymously, there are no stupid questions!!!