I hear a lot of people say things like, “I never let diabetes keep me from doing anything!” I disagree, and I believe rhetoric like this is one reason PWD do not always use the resources that have been made available to them.
Several other blogs and articles have hit on the idea that diabetes privilege is a real factor in care. There are so many primary factors that go into diabetes management: insulin, glucose testing, additional injectables, pills, CGMs, pumps. We often forget other factors that are not considered by US health insurance: food accessibility, exercise or gym memberships, mental healthcare, and more. All these factors, primary or not, are influenced by money.
Diabetes management in the United States is absolutely a privilege.
Understanding this, I think it’s important we stop stigmatizing people for using the silver linings that having diabetes can provide. Some of the perks that I have used are:
- Disability Resource Center testing accommodations. I have registered with DRC in both undergraduate and graduate programs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a proctor to take exams. There is nothing wrong with taking the exams in a room alone. There is also nothing wrong with using time-and-a-half to complete the test, even if your blood sugar stays in range. This is the home screen for a test I will be taking on Sunday, while utilizing my 1.5x time allowance:
- The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. Did you know that having diabetes, or any other chronic illness that qualifies as a permanent disability by ADA standards (endocrine is listed!), can get you a free lifetime pass into any Federal Recreation entrance.
- I know some people have used diabetes for fast pass access at the Disney Resorts in the past. However, I also hear that luxury has ended, but am completely unsure about that policy or its parameters. If you know, please let me know in the comments!
- Family Medical Leave Act – also commonly referred to as FMLA. I have Intermittent FMLA filed every year. Unfortunately, this is also a privilege rather than a right because many medical practices charge for filling out any paperwork. The benefit of having Intermittent FMLA is that you can take your time if you have an urgent low before work or on the job. Additionally, I can take a day off to heal after any bad blood sugar day that may make it so I’m not performing at 100%.
This is a benefit that is often stigmatized by both coworkers and employers, and that confuses me. It is never in the business’ best interest to have a sub-standard employee being on duty. It is risky to the employee, to the coworkers, and frankly to the business. The stigma that has been perpetuated surrounding FMLA is foolish and flagrant.
PLEASE share in the comments your experiences with what I have mentioned and any other perks you may have come across. I plan on posting a follow up to this piece in a couple weeks with additional benefits, including how to use or obtain them. Your input is greatly appreciated (firstname.lastname@example.org).