Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope others will share after reading your experience & watch the presentations on Stigma & Diabetes. Your post as well as those of others touched me.
As a boy I had an ever changing list of jobs that I’d hoped to do one day. Yes, fireman was on the list. My mother tried to prepare me for life by gently telling me which jobs I would be excluded from bc I had diabetes. Jobs such as flying an Air Force jet or becoming an airline pilot. I would be disappointed but adjusted.
Of course from 1st through 12th grades the school nurses & teachers knew that I had T1. I sometimes needed to use the restroom frequently so that permission was automatically granted. In 4th grade my teacher took groups of 4 - 5 students to the public library to select books for the classroom borrowing shelf. I was never chosen nor told why I was not chosen. Finally in the latter half of the year my Mother did something which I hated. She called my teacher. I was then chosen for one of the last trips. There were other cases of undeserved discrimination from this teacher. In hindsight I believe he resented having a student with T1 in his classroom. My diabetes became his burden.
I lived in a small town so many mothers consulted with my Mom before bringing in birthday treats for the class. Those mothers then provided a suggested alternative for me. However, I well remember when a classmate’s mother was distributing cupcakes and came to my desk. She looked at me and said that she knew I couldn’t eat cupcakes. Then she unapologetically told me that she didn’t bring anything for me. I remember feeling stunned for a second. The teacher who was within earshot did nothing. I can’t remember all the negative feelings that flooded over me. I do remember not allowing myself to cry & putting on a brave face while I watched my classmates enjoy their cupcakes. I may have cried when I went home at the end of the school day. Early in my 64 yrs of T1 I began to experiece the many stigmas attached to having T1. My reaction to stigma inasmuch possible was to keep my diabetes hidden. I did feel shame.
As a teen & young adult I had an inner voice telling me not to openly share the fact that I had T1. In college bc my bg could go low during physical activity I informed the soccer coach during tryouts that I had diabetes. I gave candy to the team trainer to keep on hand. I believe that I was the only freshman trying out for the soccer team who had to have a letter of approval from his doctor.
Everyone knows how important getting a drivers license is to most teenagers. To get my drivers license in PA it took forms completed by my doctor & 6 months to get approval from the state to obtain my learners permit & license. It is good to give or deny the privilege of driving if justified. I was 17 not the usual 16 yrs old when I passed the drivers license exam. If only thinking logically shame would not be present. Emotionally I felt shame. Most of my friends had their driver’s license long before I did.
In the paragraphs above I only give a few examples from my experience of stigmas attached to having T1. I think it was bc of my experiences that when I looked for employment after college I didn’t disclose that I had T1 unless it couldn’t be avoided. I was fortunate bc in 2 jobs where I had to pass a physical I was hired and within a year I was selected to be trained for management. I cannot speak to industry as a whole but I can speak to things I witnessed as a protestsnt pastor. When being interviewed I didn’t share that I was a person with T1. Certainly I hope it is a minority that there are churches which have discriminated against women & men with a chronic but manageable disease in both hiring & yes in firing pastors upon discovery.
I didn’t know all of the above was inside me! I hope readers won’t be offended bc I have shared some of it. I had forgotten most of what I have shared. It felt cathartic to share my experience of the stigma of having T1.The ADA is a big step forward in helping educators & employers move beyond discrimination bc of a physical condition.
I am looking forward to the presentations on Stigmas of Diabetes at diatribe.