Diabetes Awareness Month: Part 2

The great debate: Is diabetes a disability?

Every document, or theory about disability, that I’ve ever read mentions diabetes as a disability, as kind of a “hey, bet you didn’t know this is a disability too!” way, after listing what our common perception of disabilities are. However, in reality, it apparently isn’t so straightforward.

At my last endo appointment, I brought paperwork to apply for both for the disability tax credit and a grant for students with permanent disabilities. My doctor said she would willingly sign the tax credit application, but not the grant application, because “diabetes isn’t a disability”. Not sure exactly where the logic is in that, since apparently it is enough of a disability for me to apply for the tax credit…but not qualify for a grant?

However – the catch with the tax credit is that type one diabetics have been turned down in great numbers for it within the last couple years. To be eligible, you have to have a disability that demands at least fourteen hours of life-sustaining therapy per week. Technically, my disease requires life-sustaining therapy 24/7, but the interpretation of what constitutes said therapy has changed. They allow you to count time that consists of switching out pump supplies, or pens, taking your blood sugar, logging your blood sugar, but don’t allow you to count some of the things that take the most time and energy, such as counting carbohydrates, calculating insulin dosages, travelling to medical appointments, treating and recovering from high and low blood sugars and picking up medication, among many others. I can’t remember all the specific details, but it is ridiculous. Diabetes is a disease that requires constant, attentive management, but the requirements for the tax credit do not take this into account.

I still sent in my application, even though my doctor said it takes “creativity” to come up with a care log that meets their standards to even be considered, and then often, they reject the applications because “diabetics shouldn’t need to spend fourteen hours a week managing their diabetes”. I’m calling bullshit on that!

Thankfully, representatives from Diabetes Canada and other organizations are working hard on our behalf by lobbying for more inclusive and fair consideration for diabetics regarding eligibility. I have done my part by sending a letter to my MP, and I hope other diabetics are doing the same!

I also hope, that by the time my application is processed,  maybe the government will have re-evaluated their standards. Or at least, that they will compensate all of the rejected applicants that so deserve this tax credit.

Diabetes is a permanent, exhausting and demanding disease. Not to mention, extremely costly if you don’t have full coverage for prescriptions. It takes a lot of time, effort and careful management to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and even then, this disease is so complex that half the time your best efforts don’t play out the way you hope. It’s frustrating, and sometimes feels quite futile. Diabetes is finicky, inconvenient at best and relentless. And diabetics have to be relentless to stay on top of it.

To me, the tax credit isn’t even about the money (though, as a university student, a few extra dollars is always appreciated!), but about the recognition of all the time and effort that goes into my healthcare on a daily basis. The current system really makes me feel as though everything I do to manage this disease isn’t legitimate, or appreciated in the slightest.

Something needs to change and soon!!

As for the grant for students with disabilities, and my doctor’s refusal to sign for it – well, that’s a whole other rant I don’t have the energy for right now. But in the end, my GP signed it because I do have other disabilities. It still shouldn’t be a question though. Diabetes impacts my functioning and ability as a student on a regular basis, so why is it not considered a permanent disability in relation to my studies? I know plenty of other diabetics apply successfully for this grant, so maybe (and I do, and I will) need to see a new endo. (this situation only fuels my “I’m too sick to be considered healthy but too healthy to be considered sick” internal conflict that I struggle with. but that’s another post in itself!)

anyway.

end rant.

and oh yeah! tomorrow is World Diabetes Day so wear blue to show your support!!

best,

jc.

 

 

 

 

 

DIABETES AWARENESS MONTH: Part 1

Coincidentally enough, November is both Diabetes Awareness Month and Epilepsy Awareness Month – and I happen to have both conditions!
So I’m going to dedicate two posts this month to Diabetes Awareness Month, and two to Epilepsy Awareness Month.

First of all- shout out to JDRF and Diabetes Canada for being awesome organizations that do amazing and important advocacy work, educate, fund-raise, and provide me and my fellow T1Ds opportunities to connect  (T-ONE-D program) while learning super helpful info for managing this disease.

T1D Q & A:

Also shout out to my friend Lily who came up with some questions she thought people might have about diabetes, so I could do this style of blog post!

       1. What is the difference between the two types?

I’m going to link to Diabetes Canada’s page on this, so click here for more info! However, I’ll do my best to answer this as well.

There are actually several types of diabetes, but the most common are Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2. Basically, type 1 occurs when your immune cells mistakenly identify the cells that produce insulin as “bad” cells and thus, destroy them, leaving type 1 diabetics completely unable to produce insulin. The trigger that causes this auto-immune reaction is still unidentified, and therefore, there is no cure! Type 1 diabetics are completely dependent on insulin injections to keep themselves healthy and well.

Type 2 Diabetes, I do not know as much about, as I do not live with it, however it differs from Type 1 in that the body still produces insulin, but it is sluggish to metabolize it or does not use it as effectively as it should. Type 2 Diabetics closely watch their diet, take oral medication, and sometimes, insulin, to manage their disease.  There a lot of factors regarding the cause of type two, such as genetics, lifestyle factors and more! Neither disease simply results from eating too much sugar, as many are led to believe.

Please follow the link I provided if you want more info!

     2. How do you treat type one?

Mainly, insulin therapy. But there is a lot to it, and many options when it comes to insulin regimes. I personally use an insulin pump (and no, it doesn’t “do all the work for me”), others use pens to inject their insulin, or the classic syringe. But insulin therapy consists of a lot more than just injections.

Treating type one consists of counting and calculating the number of carbs in everything you eat, giving insulin accordingly for everything, calculating dosages for your “background insulin” or the little spurts of insulin (or long acting doses in larger quantities) you take to mimic your pancreas, taking your blood sugar (at least 5 times a day), recording it, and evaluating patterns and trends and adjusting insulin dosages accordingly, accounting for activity level, sickness, stress, emotions, hormones, and so much more! It consists of treating low blood sugars, high blood sugars (both of which are awful and annoying and ultimately frustrating), visiting an endocrinologist about every three months, and basically, factoring your diabetes and blood sugar level into everything you do!

      3. How do you handle a chronic illness on top of being in uni?

Ah man. Honestly, half the time I don’t know myself. Somehow I make it work. When it really comes down to it, it is all about prioritization. Using the days where I am feeling well to be productive, resting when I need to, putting my health above everything else, being honest with my professors and classmates about my conditions and utilizing any accommodations available are all things I do to make sure I can keep up to school. Usually, when things get chaotic, it’s often a game of figuring out which classes I can afford to miss to both get my upcoming assignments done while still maintaining enough energy to attend those that I need to. It’s a balancing act, and a tough one at that. There’s always a point where it gets to be too much, and usually, after a bit of a breakdown, (haha), I re-evaluate this balancing act and figure out which activities I can afford to cut, or need to, to maintain both my physical and mental health!

      4. Does it affect your relationships in ways you didn’t think it would?

Not really, I guess? Like, maybe the start of relationships and stuff – I’m always worried about how people might react to finding out that I have diabetes, and what sort of questions or misconceptions they will throw at me. But everyone in my life has been extremely supportive and understanding, and for the most part, it hasn’t been as issue.

I do feel, sometimes though, feel like a burden, or feel guilty, for say, cancelling plans, or being extra exhausted because of my illnesses, or for complaining too much when I’m burnt-out…and this sometimes does affect my relationships negatively, because I feel like there’s just a bit of a divide between me and my “healthy” friends and family, based on the differences of our lived experiences and what it is actually like to be chronically ill. So yeah, I mean, sometimes it means I miss out on things, or disappoint people, or myself, but overall, everyone has been great, and I really am so unbelievably fortunate to be surrounded by such awesome people.

       5. What do you wish the world understood about type one diabetes and the people who live with it? 

Oh man! There is so much I could say to this. But to sum it up rather quickly, I wish that people understood that diabetes is a) not caused by eating too much sugar, b) a really complex disease to manage and deal with, both psychologically and physically, and because of this, is extremely tiresome, c) (in the case of type 1) has no cure, and d) affects every aspect of our lives in someway! it is overwhelming at the best of times.

 

If you made it through this all, thank you.

go hug a diabetic and spread some awareness for this deeply misunderstood disease!!

peace out

xoxo jc.