Here’s a question for you: Is diabetes a disability? This question came up while I was reading an article in the October issue of Diabetes Forecast. There is an article titled, “Cracking the Case.” Long story short, Jeff Kapche was denied a position at the FBI because of his diabetes. He filed suit against them stating that they didn’t hire him because of his diabetes. The FBI said that his diabetes is not a disability because he manages his diabetes well. The court favored Kapche. The case is still heading back to the Federal Court of Appeals for another review. There is no easy answer to this question, it may seem like there is, but there isn’t. Let’s look at it from all sides.
Diabetes IS a disability
When you have diabetes (type 1) there are certain things that you must do in order to live a healthy life. You must check your blood sugar, take insulin whether it is from an insulin pump or syringe, be able to have access to glucose in case of an emergency and many more things that we don’t have to get into at this time. This can definitely hinder your processes of doing normal day to day or daily job tasks. If you are working an extremely physical job then your blood sugar is more likely to drop faster, so this is where diabetes can be considered a disability.
Diabetes IS NOT a Disability
Even with all of the things that you need to do in order to properly manage your diabetes, they do not have to hinder your daily life or your day to day tasks. If you are doing the things that you need to be doing, then you can control your diabetes which does not allow it to become a disability. Whether you are wearing an insulin pump or taking multiple day injections (MDI), you can control your levels.
My 2 Cents
Here’s my 2 cents. Diabetes is in no way a disability. I live a normal life, I just so happen to be diabetic. In the 6 years that I have had diabetes there has not been one single time that I have had to say, “no I can’t do that because I have diabetes.” I eat ice cream cake for birthdays, I ride roller coasters that go upside down while wearing a pump hooked to my hip, I test my blood sugar at the table, at the desk, in the bathroom, at work, at the dinner table, I do everything someone without diabetes does, but more! I don’t see diabetes in any way being a disability. With proper management, you can control it. A disability to me is something that you can’t control.
I think using diabetes as a disability is a scape goat for a lawsuit. Sure, there may be a reason that you don’t get a job because of diabetes, but that is a discrimination, primarily based upon ignorance and the cost of your health to the company hiring you. So, if you are going to file a suit against somebody for discriminating against your diabetes it should be because you are defending that it isn’t a disability and that you are able to do the job just the same as someone without diabetes. Instead, the guy in this article is fighting the FBI and saying that he was denied the job because he DOES have a disability and the FBI is claiming that his diabetes is not a disability.
This irritates me. To think that the ADA is doing a 2 1/2 page article in their magazine talking about how diabetes is a disability. What kind of negative thinking is that? Not the kind that I want to think about. How about they write articles about how it’s not a disability, but people’s pure ignorance to think that we can’t do something just because we have diabetes. I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’m not going to have an organization that is supposed to be furthering advocacy for the disease I live with, start to take steps backwards. If you want to accept diabetes as a disability, then be my guest. That’s your life decision. But I’m not going to let this damn thing hold me down!