I signed a petition on Change.org sometime a few months ago. Now I get these emails every time there is a new petition the site–or, more accurately, some algorithm–thinks fits my views.  Today a I got an email regarding a petition a man began that claims HEB forced him to leave his job with them because he is a type 1 diabetic.

HEB is a grocery store chain located almost exclusively in Texas. I actually used to shop at an HEB where we used to live and once applied for a job in their deli. So this particular petition caught my attention for more reasons than just the fact that it is about diabetes.

In the petition, the man says:

H-E-B had me enroll into Cigna and I was required every 6 months to get a doctor to confirm I was still a Type 1 Diabetic. I had done this several times without an issue, but the last time my 6 months came up I found my usual doctor refused to sign the form, saying they didn’t do them anymore. I frantically searched for another physician to sign and got the same answer where ever I went. When I pushed for an answer I was told they were more trouble than they were worth, many doctors found themselves pulled into legal disputes. 

 

This deeply annoys me. Most of us know that dealing with insurance is quite difficult at times. The hoops I had to jump through to get my pump as a type 2 diabetic were bad enough–and I didn’t have half the problems many others before me had. So this part earned a deep sympathy on my part. After all, everyone knows there is no cure for diabetes, therefore it is easy to assume the guy will still have diabetes six days, six weeks, six months, six years from now….ridiculous.

And then he says this:

I am a Type 1 Diabetic and there are days where it is impossible for me to work. It’s not often, but there are bad days. Luckily the Family Medical Leave Act has a program that allows you to take needed time off without worrying about getting fired.

My first instinct when I read this is that many of us work through highs and lows and other things that might cause us to not feel up to par….on Saturday I worked when my blood sugar was 433 and I felt like %@#$^….a story I will tell in another post. So, I found myself wondering what kinds of things would cause this man to have to call in sick to work that was directly related to his diabetes. I might have understood this statement better if he had said that he had to take off time for necessary doctor’s appointments, or if he explained that he has some sort of complication to his diabetes that causes him more difficult days than the rest of us.

To me, it seems that when an adult takes on a job, it’s that person’s responsibility to understand the sick day policies of the company and do everything they can to uphold their end of the deal. If someone cannot do what is expected of them, they shouldn’t put themselves in a situation where they are bound to fail. I get that diabetes can complicate this–even well-controlled diabetes–but that’s why they call it responsibility. It’s not always easy or fun.

This part I don’t really understand:

Days later H-E-B was saying they never got the form and that any days I took off were not excused. In a matter of seconds I went from having a job I loved to standing outside being told I was off the schedule.

Did they take him off the schedule because they were predicting he would be calling in sick a lot and didn’t want to deal with it? Or did they take him off the schedule because he continued to take too many days off and they were no longer excused?

And then he says this:

As word of my situation spread throughout the store, I quickly learned I was not alone. Others shared their experience of being called out and belittled because of their disability.

This bothers me because I don’t consider myself disabled and I don’t think most diabetics see themselves as disabled. Comparing myself to someone who is blind, deaf, in a wheelchair, or suffering some sort of mental disability just doesn’t fly. I have a medical condition, like someone with asthma or a severe allergy. I do not deserve special consideration and don’t ask for it.

However, I realize that some diabetics do feel they are deserving of some of these special considerations. I also get that no one should be discriminated against because of a medical condition or other special requirement. So I get what this guy is trying to say.

I don’t know why these things bother me. Perhaps the fact that it seems to perpetuate a stereotype in the media is part of it. But not really all of it….I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that this guy is calling special attention on himself, blaming all his trouble on something that the rest of us are forced to live with quietly and without special consideration. Or maybe its because I don’t see this guy’s petition making things better for anyone. It will just make some employers that much more weary about hiring diabetics. There is so much misunderstanding out there about what it means to be diabetic…do we really need more?

I have never used diabetes as an excuse not to work. But I am a freelancer. I make my own schedule and choose my own jobs. In some ways, I likely have it much better than people like this man. In some ways, I don’t. Whatever the result of this petition, it will have little impact on my working life. So it shouldn’t bother me….but it does.

Will I sign the petition? I don’t know. Maybe.

Those of you interested in reading, and signing, the petition, you can find it here.

Those of you who aren’t interested, I’d love to hear your reasons why….in fact, I’d love to read your comments  no matter which side of the issue you fall on.

Am I simply too wrapped up in my own situation to be sympathetic of others? Do I have it all wrong?

It just seems like there are too many things that suck about life. Why do we have to dwell in the bad–blame everyone but ourselves for our problems–when life is so short? Shouldn’t we embrace the good and move past the bad?

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