Diabetes… A disability or not?

Recently I’ve been reading up a lot on Diabetes on different forums or Facebook pages. It fascinates me how much I’ve learnt through speaking to other diabetics, people who have been through often the exact same situations as me. As vastly as Diabetes varies, I think that all diabetics have gone through the same emotions and thought processes at some point in their life or another.

Something that I’ve noticed cropping up quite regularly, and often causing a heated debate, is the argument of whether or not Type One Diabetics should class themselves as disabled.

Now personally, I’ve never classed Diabetes as a disability. It’s a constant thorn in my side, a massive inconvenience in my life, but it doesn’t disable me. I suffer pretty badly with Neuropathy in my feet – I’ve recently had to up my meds because it was becoming painful to walk again and I’ve noticed it creeping into my hands. When I realised I could feel the familiar burning, tingling and throbbing starting in my palms and shooting down into my fingers, I wanted to cry. My control has been so much better, but Diabetes doesn’t care about that. I’ve messed up in the past and for that I’ll probably be punished in years to come. So I accept that yes, eventually Diabetes could cause me to become disabled, or at least maybe classed as disabled. Now as negative as that sounds, I assure you that I’m not sat here assuming the worst or trying to be dramatic. I just accept that it is a realistic option for me.

More often than not, people seem to have the same opinion as me, but I have noticed a few people who sometimes get quite upset in trying to justify why they see their condition as a disability, and I’m not judging anyone either way. In some cases, I’ve known people who have maybe became blind due to Retinopathy, or had an amputation due to poor glucose control. (Sorry, I hate people bringing that kinda thing up!) But obviously 100% in those cases do I understand the disability argument. Even people with blue badges due to the pain of walking with Neuropathy, I 100% understand and sympathise.

But for those who are fortunate enough to not suffer with any complications, or at least not any major ones, I don’t understand the disabled argument.

I’ll tell you how this all came about. Me and my friend were discussing going to Alton Towers in the summer. Now I’ve heard about Diabetics sometimes being able to acquire a Fast Pass (to prevent having to queue). When I looked into it, it stated that you had to have a doctors letter stating that you would be unable to queue / it would be a risk for you to queue, e.g if your bloods went low, or if you were unable to stand that long. Now technically, I probably could request a Fast Pass under these circumstances, as my feet really do hurt if I stand around too much. They become a bit twitchy, restless and generally pretty uncomfortable. The Fast Pass includes 3 ‘carers’.Great! That would cover all of us, we’d save so much time, we could go on so many more rides!

But the more I thought about it, it didn’t feel right. Yeah I probably could request one, but I don’t think I should. If people have to use the Disabled Entrance (Which I would have to do, if I accepted a Fast Pass on medical grounds) then I would feel like I was just abusing the system.

I appreciate this won’t be the case for everyone, and for people with young Diabetic children etc, a Fast Pass in these circumstances is fantastic. Even more reason for me to not take advantage surely.

I’ve seen the argument that Diabetes can be a burden and cause misery in our lives, so why should we not take any perks given to us, and to some degree I can see their point. But equally, when so many of us want to be treated with equality in all walks of life (and rightly so), how can we then claim to have a disability, when it suits?

I would love to hear any comments or feedback any one may have on this, I’m genuinely interested in peoples opinions. I don’t think there is particularly a right or wrong in this situation, it would be down to each individual. I want to stress again, I’m not judging any one either way, every single one of us is different, and that’s what makes us all so special! 🙂

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