Just when I thought I’d heard the most hurtful, ignorant, and ridiculous insult about diabetes, I got hit with this one…
It has taken me two years to write about this incident. I’m not sure why. Partially, I was so pissed off. Appalled. Disgusted. And really, I should have reported it, but I didn’t.
I work in higher education admissions, so my job entails going into high schools to meet with students and discuss their options of attending the college I work for. I also give presentations to high school classes and go to large college fairs.
Two years ago, I was giving a classroom presentation in a local high school. At the end, I usually hand out fun giveaways, which often includes a bucket of candy for each student to pick out their favorite(s).
During the presentation, I made a small note about having type 1 diabetes. I like to share vulnerabilities and differences with students. It’s important that they see themselves succeeding in their future, obstacles aside.
So as I gave thanks and praise for their attention and interaction, I told them I brought candy for them.
The teacher, in the back of the room, started laughing and yelled out,
THE DIABETIC BROUGHT CANDY
I was at a loss for words. I stood there, in front of the room full of 20+ high school students, including a boy in a wheelchair, while the teacher made fun of me for brining them candy because I have diabetes.
Much of my memory is a blur after his comment.
But I remember how I felt.
Angry. Hurt. Disappointed. Appalled. Disgusted.
I got to my car and just sat there, unsure of what to do. I wanted to walk right back in to the administrators and tell them what happened. I wanted him fired. I wanted him to realize how insensitive and insulting his comment was.
But what prevented me from doing so was the thought that they would laugh me off too. Like it was no big deal. Diabetes is always used as a punchline and it really diminishes the severity of the disease.
Diabetes is a disability.
Diabetes is an invisible disease.
And here the teacher was making fun of my disability in front of everyone, while he also had a student in his classroom with a visible, physical disability.
If he was willing to say that to me, what else has he or will he say again?
I was so upset and worked up for so long, that I never ended up reporting his comment.
Is it too late?
Other insulting comments…