Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Red Tape

I read an article yesterday about a woman who was on a seemingly endless search for a daycare that would take her diabetic toddler. The ones that were willing to accept him either would not give him his insulin (they expected the mother to leave work multiple times a day to give him injections and check his BS) or they would only enroll him if she was willing to pay double. This seems illegal. And it is. But who has the time to get a lawyer involved? (Especially considering that in the end, the Americans with Disabilities Act only dictates they allow the child to come to daycare, they can still choose not to give him his medication.)

Unfortunately, diabetics see this kind of thing everywhere. I believe there is really only two reasons for it: ignorance and liability. Diabetes is a scary, mysterious disease that causes people's feet to fall of without warning! They may fall into a coma at any moment! Ignorance. (Liability on the other hand is a much bigger issue. Sue thy neighbor has practically become an American pastime.)

Shortly after reading this article, I went to yoga class. Before instructing everyone to move into shoulder stand, the teacher warned that anyone with high or low blood pressure, or anyone with diabetes should move into candle stick instead. Why? Does the simple fact that I have the disease make sticking my feet in the air a death sentence? Am I going to fall into one of those mysterious, spontaneous comas from attempting a simple inversion? No of course not. In fact I with my stellar cholesterol levels, perfect blood pressure, resting heart rate of 57, and 5 doctor check-ups a year, am probably the last one in the class that is going to die from doing a shoulder stand (I tried this same argument on a health insurance agent, to no avail).

What the teacher should have said is, "Anyone with high or low blood sugar may not want to attempt the shoulder stand. Oh and by the way, you probably don't want to be at yoga class right now. Maybe you should get that taken care of."

The first time I went to get a massage after being diagnosed, I noticed some fine print on the questionnaire. Right below the box that asks you to identify which diseases and conditions you have, there was a small side-note that said something about not being able to work on anyone with diabetes unless they provide a doctor's note. Now to me, that seemed a little silly (what am I, in elementary school?). And diabetes is a pretty big header to categorize people under. Type 1, type 2? Newly diagnosed? There is a big difference between a ten year old with well controlled type 1 and an overweight eighty year old suffering from neuropathy.

I did what any respectable diabetic would do. I ripped off my medical alert bracelet and lied on the form.

Tattoo and piercing release forms have the same fine print. I can bet I took better care of my tattoos than the tens of thousands of drunk teenagers that get them every day.

I say we drop the ignorance. Instead of categorizing and alienating people based on broad headings that our legal teams tell us we need, lets start educating ourselves and printing up liability forms that actually make sense. Yes, if your A1C is 13, you probably shouldn't get a tattoo. If you are lazy, irresponsible, and unhygienic, you probably shouldn't get one either.

How about we differentiate between type 1 and type 2 while we are at it (for those that don't know--and I freely admit, I was in this boat at one time in my life too--they are completely different diseases, they just have similar symptoms). I read an entire article yesterday about how diabetes can lead to fatty liver disease. I got all the way to the last paragraph before they mentioned that it was the insulin resistance factors that caused the liver damage--something that only happens in type 2 diabetics. (I'm all for renaming type 1. If I hear one more person say "but you're so thin" after I tell them I have diabetes, I will lose it. How about Autoimmune Induced Glucose Intolerance? AIGI for short.)

Education goes a long way. And having a little faith that if you are kind enough to accept my diabetic child into your daycare with no strings attached I won't sue you if something goes wrong, is also a step in the right direction.

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