My Early Years With Type 1, Part 3

I graduated from high school in June, 1957. I wanted to go to college, but my parents told me I could not do that. They thought I would not be successful because of my diabetes. None of my relatives had ever gone to college. Many of them had good jobs and good salaries They lived in nice homes. My parents did not understand my being so obsessed with going to college. What they did not understand was that I was deeply hurt by their telling me I would not make it through college because of my diabetes. I had to show them I could do that, and do it well! I had a good mind, and I wanted to use it in a meaningful way.

My parents begged me to apply for a job at the post office where my father worked. I could become become a post office clerk, and he could watch over me. So I had to choose between standing at a counter selling stamps and weighing packages, or going to college. The only coed college available was Roanoke College, just 20 minutes away. If there had not been a college nearby I would never have gone to college. My parents were disappointed in me, and Mother cried. They were so dead set against my doing this that they refused to pay for any part of my tuition or my college expenses. They were kind though, and they gave me free room and board. Daddy let me drive his older Chevy instead of trading it in when he bought a new car. He kept the car in good shape, and paid for the gas. I had no money of my own, so I had to get a job. I started working at a grocery store the very month I graduated from high school. I worked about 30 hours per week and

started off at 75 cents per hour. Every few months I got a raise of 5 or 10 cents per hour. I saved enough to pay for half of my tuition for the fall semester. I was supposed to pay the other half later during that semester. College expenses were so much more reasonable back then. If someone was working at a grocery store to pay for tuition in the 21’st century, it would be impossible. My being able to live at home, and make enough money to pay tuitions, made it possible for me to go to college.

I wanted to become an architect. There was a pre-engineering program at Roanoke College, and I chose courses that would enable me to transfer after two years to Va. Tech, to become an architect. I made all A’s and B’s during my freshman year, except for chemistry. I was not ready for college chemistry. I talked to the chemistry teacher and she understood my problem, but she could not do anything for me. I received C’s in both semesters of chemistry, but I knew almost nothing about chemistry when the spring semester ended. Not having had the high school prerequisite chem course made it almost impossible for me. I felt the C grades were a gift. I was very grateful, but I felt guilty about it. I made new friends while in college, and we visited each other’s homes. We played golf and went bowling many times. Good friends. I had a crush on several girls while in high school, and during my freshman year of college, but I was too shy to ask them for dates. I had my first date ever during my sophomore year of college. My shyness and lack of confidence kept me from dating until then.

One Saturday night I had to stay after hours at the grocery store to help with the mopping detail. Every aisle had to be clean and bright before we went home. I was so tired. I had not been on mop detail before. I got in my car and headed home. I thought my strange feelings were due to my fatigue. I turned a corner and collapsed at the wheel. I did not remember anything after that until I was awake, and my parents were standing over me with a crowd of men behind them. Several cops too. I had a hypo. I never straightened the wheel after the turn so my car went off the road and down a steep hill into a creek bed. The car went between two vertical posts that were supporting a huge billboard. The people were measuring the distance between the posts and the width of my car. They said the opening was about two inches more than the width of the car. How could my car have passed between the posts and not touch either one of them??? I was not hurt and the car did not have a scratch on it. The guys standing in back were from a bar across the road. They had seen my car leave the road, and they found my parent’s phone number in my wallet. Everyone but my parents thought I was drunk. I had never been drunk in my life. I had never tasted alcohol. My parents told the cops about my diabetes. I really don’t think anyone there believed their explanation. There was no ticket though, and a big wrecker pulled my car up the hill later that night, or on Sunday. I was back at college Monday morning. It was like the whole thing was just a bad dream. I had many hypos during my early years during my sleep, or after a lot of exertion. There was no way for me to test my blood sugar before starting home that night. Glucose monitors were not available until many years after that. I had to go by the way I felt. It was that way for about 40 years until glucose monitors became available in the 1980’s. My parents thought that God had protected me, and that was why I was not hurt. I wasn’t too sure about that, but I was certainly happy about having my car back, and going to classes Monday morning. I never missed a class during my four years of undergraduate work. I never had a bad hypo on campus, but I had many lows, and had to eat sugar from a small container in my pocket.

There were no glucose tablets for a long time to come. Sugar worked very well. I remember having lows during tests, and my teachers never let me take a make-up test. I took my test with my class or not at all. I did not have a glucose monitor, so I could not test for sugar in my blood, or even in my urine when on campus. I had a low during a calculus test that was so bad that my vision was blurred, and I could not read my test paper. My teacher would not believe me. That was the only math test I failed in college. There were only three tests and a comprehensive final exam in each math course I took. My failing grade on that test resulted in a B grade for first semester calculus. My teachers in all my years of school did not understand diabetes. I don’t think they had even heard of it.

The picture below shows the Roanoke College campus, 2019.

Why is diabetes considered a disability

I have, what some may considered a stupid question. Why is diabetes considered a disability? I get asked if I have a disability on many job applications and I choose not to answer but I never really considered it a disability myself. Any ideas?

Fiona Lynn A disability is a long term condition that can cause restriction to day to day living. So I suppose taking into account the chronic nature of diabetes, it’s management and some of the effects is causes, it could (probably is) considered a disability. Depends your outlook and how you live with it as to whether you want to class it as a disability for you or not.

Sarah White Fiona Lynn so I may not consider it a disability but the government and any future employer might huh? So it’s not really a black and white answer but totally in the grey. Interesting.

Fiona Lynn Sarah White I don’t class myself as being disabled, however, medically, I would think it probably is as it’s a long term chronic condition, therefore, as such your employer should make reasonable adjustments to allow you to ‘look after yourself’. (I’m in the UK btw). There was a woman on here (I’m sure) saying she had never declared diabetes formally to HR/employer, as they all knew and worked with her as/when she needed to manage symptoms. Something happened and new management were introduced and it all kicked off as her diabetes was never formally recorded in HR – this was in the US. Certainly when it comes to life insurance over here it’s classed as a disability/condition. I’m with you, it’s not a straight forward black / white answer xx

Theresa Flaherty It qualifies as a disability so that, should you need some sort or accommodation for it, you’ll get it/ be protected ( in theory), like checking sugar. I wouldn’t check it in employment apps or anything. I don’t think that’s what they are asking for.

Julia Robertson I know what you
I crossed out disability & put health issue
Then explained.
I am type 2 insulin dependant.
Control; good / bad.

Sarah Mae Type 1 diabetes is considered a disability under the ADA and I have no problem exploiting that. It also qualifies me for fmla which I find necessary to use as when I get sick/have days where diabetes makes me sick I tend to stay sicker for longer and this allows me to keep my job

John Spatafora The potential employer is trying to find out if they need to make any special accommodations as a condition for your employment. Example: If you say you are a diabetic and need regular snack breaks and time to test your blood sugar. If you claim disability as such and you are employed they cannot fire you for the same. On the other hand, if you do not and they find that this time interferes with you day to day duties you can be fired.

Cheryl Beers John Spatafora, employers have to comply with employees special needs if they have a disability, especially if they’re in a union. If you have a problem whether you’re union or not, if the employer doesn’t want to accommodate, they’re in violation of the American Disabilities Act. You’re right John, an employer can try to make things difficult or even try to fire you but that’s why the ADA is in place.

Lisa Byrd Cheryl Beers however in order to be protected as John said, ypu have to declare it. If you dont then you cannot be protected.

Lori Hale Life ins considers it a disability if u dont control it over 2 yes it is for claims…but with every disability there is perspective…T2D is a dietary really its up to u how u run your life and your risks…me personally…its not going to define me

Leta Barton Stewart I hear all the “gray” issues. I guess each person must make his or her decision. I worked successfully with it until I retired. I rebelled horribly from age 14 (when I was diagnosed) until age 22. I have had an A1C under 7.0 since this type testing was first available. My last 2 A1C’s were 5.8 and 5.7. I am not at my perfect weight; this has been a struggle since I had to start injections in 1970. I wish I were more physically fit. I do do have a very busy lifestyle.

Leta Barton Stewart ? What is funny? Certainly my A1C was off the charts the first 8 years when this type testing was not available.

Kathleen Tapocik Fowler I feel that diabetes does not define me but adding it as a disability might cover me if I need to test or eat or if I get sick.

Michael Worrell Type 1 is considered a disability under the Rehabilitation Act because it significantly affects one or more major life functions. Specifically, it significantly affects the major life function of eating because we have to test our BG before eating, take medication before eating, sometimes delay eating if BG is too high, and sometimes eat when we wouldn’t otherwise do so because BG is too low.

These are affects on eating (a major life function) as a result of type 1 diabetes. A non-diabetic does not have these same affects on eating.

I point you to the decision issued by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Branham v. Snow for a more thorough legal interpretation of why type 1 diabetes is considered a disability under the Rehabilitation Act.

Type 2 – it may not be… depends on how it affects the specific patient.

Allison Gavin Brinkley You don’t have to utilize accomodations just because the law defines you as having a disability.

But the laws exist just in case someone with diabetes needs them for a legitimate reason. Everyone and every workplace is different.

Elaine Shillcock In the UK a disability is legally defined as a long term condition that has more than a minor impact on normal day to day activities, crucially disregarding any medication. So imagine the effect if you took no medication, if the impact is more than minor or trivial and will last 12 months or more or for the rest of your life, then it is classed as a disability.

Shara Threadgill When my endo wanted me to come in every six weeks, she wouldn’t sign FMLA papers so that I would not be penalized at work. She was all “you are just type 2”. SoI had to choose between my health and my job. Which at the time, were hard to come by.

Judy Simpson Koerth It doesn’t seem like one Depending on how much you are impacted by it. Some folks have lost their vision, or had a foot amputated, or have failing kidneys. If you are otherwise healthy then you blessed and don’t think of it as a disability.

Tom Stuve Are there not days your Diabetes can effect your performance on the job , in a way that others don’t have to even consider dealing with ? For that reason after dealing with type 1 for 38 years I consider it just that at times . Still though, employers don’t understand the hardships of dealing with it 24/7 so would probably not agree , for that reason I never list my diabetes as a disability . Also, embracing that mindset is not healthy mentally or emotionally, because some days with managing this disease are good , some not so much.

Jody Frahm Our body does not produce a hormone that we need to digest our food. So we cannot eat on our own without the help of a drug. That is a disability. You can, on some health care plans, can get a reduced health insurance rates if you are living with a disability. Your employer also gets a small discount for having disabled workers. At least in the US.

Abigail Rivera Hypos and hypers are covered by ADA because in that state we are temporarily disabled. Imagine also if you had a low and were not allowed to have a snack or your glucose tablets, etc. Or your sugar was very high and you were not allowed a break to take insulin. Most people have common sense but all it takes is that one person that doesn’t to make it an issue.

For me it was that one professor who didn’t understand how I couldn’t do a quiz because my sugar dropped, 4 years of college at it was only that one time with that one teacher to show me why the disability office had to be involved. Either way I’m glad they were there for me. They proctored all my exams after that where I was allowed breaks and time and a half.

Lisa Byrd Has an HR professional, an autoimmune disease is classified as a disability. The reason is, because if you get sick it takes longer for to heal. If there are complications then it could be life threatening. There are a lot of things that we cannot fight off, that thiuse without compromised immune systems can. Therefore, if we declare we have a disability it allows the company to make reasonable accommodations as needed to save our jobs. I have declared mine. I dont use my accommodations at this time, but if I ever need them they are there.

Cheryl Beers Lisa Byrd, after being a union representative, I was promoted to management in payroll for a very large corporation…and they made accommodations for me when I needed.

Mark Schweim I worked for a Chicken Processing plant in Enterprise Alabama that was ConAgra Poultry Processing when I started working there and was Pilgrim’s Pride Poultry Processing when I “left” in 2012. As long as the plant was a ConAgra company, they were VERY accommodating towards me and my diabetes, but after Pilgrim’s Pride bought out ConAgra’s Poultry Processing division and the plant I worked at, they “let me go” FOUR TIMES, each time claiming “We are NOT letting you go in any act of employment discrimination, it’s just that because you need to use Insulin to control your Diabetes, you should have never been allowed to be hired to perform the job you’ve been doing for us in the first place!!!”

The first three times they did that, getting the EEOC involved in fighting my case against the plant got my employment and job title/pay restored, but the last time the Hospital Blood tests showed that Ketones in my blood caused Acetone in my breath resulting in FALSE POSITIVE Breathalyzer test results causing me to get fired for having been “under the influence of alcohol while on duty” and although EEOC again ruled in MY FAVOR, that time Pilgrim’s Pride decided that they’d pay the FOURTH FINE issued them because of their actions against me, but they now had nearly $4 million reasons to not let me return to the company. EEOC told me they had doubled the fines each time and the processing plant, when they said they wouldn’t let me return, told me my getting EEOC involved each time had already prven that I wouldn’t roll over and take it and since I’d already cost the plant over $3.5 million in fines, there was “no way in hell” that they’d let me return working for them.

Mark Schweim Lisa Byrd things would be looking even better for me if housing costs were low enough around the Mankato MN area that I could afford to live by myself instead of having had to move back in with my parents to get housing I can afford while getting over$20/hr. Where I was living in Alabama I was able to afford to live by myself while getting paid less than $10/hr.

Mark Schweim Based on my experience, I’d recommend that if you have any type of Diabetes, your best employment opportunities even if there is a Pilgrim’s Pride location within walking distance of your home would be any place OTHER THAN PILGRIM’S PRIDE!!!

The Enterprise Wayne Farms poultry processing plant told me when I applied there, “we want to get you working with us, but it appears that Pilgrim’s Pride managed to get your name blacklisted for employment with any meat processing companies within the Southern Alabama and Panhandle Florida areas.”

So when I am working people keep bring food to nurses

So when I am working people keep bring food to nurses. Friday we had a party, yesterday someone brought hotdogs and potato chips. I have broken my diet. Friday it started with Tiramisu. Yesterday started with potato chips, hot dogs, ice cream and end up with Chinese food. I am at work and looks like I am on buffet restaurant. I gained 3lbs and don’t know what to do any more. Anybody has any tips for me? I need help!!!

Shana Smith I’m an emotional eater and I too sometimes fall off the wagon. I miss mac and cheese and ginger ale and sweets so much. If do wrong after a few hours I check my blood sugar and that pops me back into reality mood. It helps hold me accountable. I don’t like to see bad numbers more than I miss those foods.

Raquel Escudero Cooley Shana Smith I have a tendency not to check blood sugar when I have eaten too much. If I start checking that would be a reality check for the thing I can indulge in and time appropriate.

Yolanda R. Castillo-Newsome Always try to remember that people don’t have a clue unless they are in your shoes. A simple, “No thanks, I’m diabetic!”. Maybe even print out a list of foods you CAN have a in big bold print put… “Things acceptible for Diabetics 😊” even though you are a nurse, never expect ppl to know unless they are informed.

Adeb Tucson Hot dogs no bun, mustard only. Chinese small portion rice/noodles, more meat/ veggies. Try for less sauce. Works for me

Annette Sanabria-Archilla get moon cheese or whisps. If you have a fridge there have guac, cheese sticks, chaffles, make your own nutella to eat with chaffles, boiles eggs, nuts, even some heavy whipping cream in a mason jar for your coffee. I know we all have our moments but we have think beyond that, what do we want to achieve. Im 50 with a 20 years old daughter and a 19 years old son. I would like to be here for them, to have grandkids and to sleep well, feel better. What do you want?

Lori Hale Well me personally we have food at work all the time…like pizza..donuts..etc..either say no to yourself or eat some like dog w/o bun or sm portion chinese…telling them your diabetic and lists? Ok…most ppl care less..You have to learn to eat the diabetic way for the rest of your life…so bring your OWN FOOD..SKIP IT…OR EAT IT…just compensate that as a high carb lunch and basically eat nuthin for OMAD on Intermittent fasting…life happens! Good sux but until you learn to handle those my opinion…it will keep happening..ex: im sick today im not counting every little carb when my body wants what it wants…just KEEP GOING

Alberto Jalalon If you can’t avoid to partake take just a little bit a nimble and eat the food you have brought from home. Let them know also your condition. They will understand and hopefully bring more healthy food next time like fruits and vegetables. Partly it’s education.le5 them know and also the risk for them and those close to them. Nothing judgemental just a telling of facts. Good luck to you

Kawashima Marie Bring your own meals or make them healthier by substituting the ingredient that what I do when we have potluck and i try to stay away from the room that has unhealthy food

Paul J Berberich Sr. Just say no (thank you). I’m diabetic.
No ones going to be offended if you’re honest and give the same answer every time.
Conversely, bring in snacks you can eat and I’ll bet everyone else appreciates them.

Mohammad Khan Simply do not eat it and tell them sorry u can not have it . As u have diabetes

Sonya Muriel Villalobos Wood Bring your own food. Avoid where the foods are.

I know the temptation. I work McDonald’s. Yup, surrounded by junk foods. Not saying I always avoid the foods. I do pick and choose though. Sometimes I allow some slip. Half a chocolate chip cookie on Saturday. And as I do have a binge eating problem, sometimes I go crazy. Especially as my job is high stress. More than once I have left in tears and I am usually pretty tough. Anyway, more success than failures. So keep trying, keep pushing forward.

Judy Baker It’s really tough to be around all that food. I agree w those who suggest having substitutes that you can eat that are tasty!!

Lynda L O’Brien-Dennehy I bring lunch and avoid everything – I worked where every Tues & Thurs breakfast brought in – donuts bagels, etc I just did not partake! Bring a salad or a protein shake for lunch. When they have post lucks or pizza for lunch I would each salad – I do not eat Gluten or dairy – really it is just control.

Brian Donovan Such a hard thing but I’ve learned to say no most of the time. I bring my lunch and eat with colleagues but know that I’ll feel like crap in the moment and will be battling the blood sugar roller coaster all day. That powers better choices. I feel your pain!

Diane Pezza Imagine that someone with a virulent CDiff infection used the restroom, did not wash their hands and touched everything. Practice walking in and out of the break room without touching a thing. Practice Practice. Reward yourself. Unhealthy foods in a high stress environment is sooo challenging! I also cover it with foil so I don t have to look at it

Jacqueline Beth Marrolli Portion sizes. No one will laugh at you if you are picky. If they r curious, they will ask. Then you can educate them. It may help someone else out one day.

Martin Stolz LoseIt app. The act of recording what I eat helps me stay on track. It also helps calculate carbs and bolusing, which is the real reason I use it.

Rosemary Mertens I would look at the junk food and what many of the people look like who are eating it and think to myself how bad that food is for all of us. Bagels, donuts, other sweets I would turn my nose up. Nope, say to myself, “I don’t eat that crap”! Bring hard cheese, nuts and locarb Greek yogurt with you. Better to overindulge on those things, I think. There is no benefit from food that will make you hungry cause it doesn’t stick with you. Once in a while you have to let loose. Probably not every day