The ability to drive is a lot like your pancreas, it turns out. You don’t miss it until it’s gone and then suddenly you’re lost without it. I recently discovered that having diabetes can put a major cramp on the ability to maintain a drivers license in some states–when my license was suspended for not mailing in a yearly doctors note certifying “compliance”. Here’s where it gets tricky. The state in which I have my license is Utah. The state where I get my healthcare is Massachusetts.

The choice to travel across the country to get better and more affordable healthcare was deliberate; if you think that it’s all the same from state to state, you need to get out more. I tried explaining this to the DMV when they told me that I needed to visit my doctor before I could get a valid license again. The fact that I couldn’t fly (or drive!) back across the country to accomplish this was, not surprisingly, lost on them.

 The bigger issue in my perspective was the fact that this entire loss of privilege was predicated on the states tenuous grasp of what diabetes is and how it affects those of us who live with it. For example, simply having diabetes and being on insulin was a red flag with a default association of “uncontrolled”. In other words, non-compliant until proven otherwise. I have never and I mean never gotten offended when people on the street look at me funny when I inject my insulin. I have lots of patience for questions that I get on social media about diabetes. When the government gets their facts wrong and suddenly I can’t fly, drive–or pick up a prescription at the drug store–that’s another issue. I’d expect a state regulatory body to know better. It’s their job.

I know that living with diabetes is a challenge and that there are risks involved, to myself as well as others. I don’t expect a free pass if I get in an accident or wreck my car. That’s why I take my responsibility to manage my blood sugar very seriously when I get behind the wheel of a car. Or when I tie into a rope when I’m climbing a mountain. Or when I pick up my daughter. The presumption of irresponsibility based on an arcane perception of diabetes undermines our ability to be honest about our condition. I’m looking for a chance to move my license to a new state and this time I will definitely think twice about checking the “diabetes” box on the application form. I can’t afford to be grounded and without medication.

I know that I’ll let this go eventually–I’m not even bitter about it. I promise. I just finally put my finger on what exactly makes the whole thing so frustrating. It’s bigger than an inconvenience it’s a prejudice based on stereotypes about diabetes and driving. I’ll be honest and admit that’s not something I’ve dealt with a frequently in my life and it really opened my eyes to what many people deal with in society today. It’s a lot easier to dismiss these situations until you find yourself smack in the middle of one.

Ok. So here’s where I’d like to hear from you. How do you think we can change this problem–or do we just “comply” and hope it goes away? Comment below and share your thoughts.