Anonymous, sort of.
As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, here on this blog – and everywhere in the Diabetes Online Community, I go by the moniker “Scott E.” When I first joined TuDiabetes in 2008, I was a bit tentative about putting my full identity out there, but I wasn’t quite comfortable with hiding behind a witty moniker either. It seemed a bit … disingenuous.
No, I’m not trying to imply a connection with a singer/drummer of a similar name (although I did see Sheila E deliver an unexpected performance at a Prince concert once, and I must say she magnificently outshined the headlining act). Diabetes doesn’t make for A Glamorous Life (for me, anyway), and I don’t want diabetes to define me when someone Google-searches my name.
I’m not ashamed of diabetes; not at all. Quite the contrary, I’m proud of all that I’ve learned and all that I’ve accomplished using someone else’s insulin for over 30 years. I’m also proud of the lives I’ve (hopefully) touched since becoming vocal in the DOC on TuDiabetes and elsewhere — and for the last month and a half, this blog.
Offline, I’m just as open with my diabetes. If I need to test my blood sugar, look at my pump, or pop a couple of glucose tabs, I do it and don’t give it a second thought. No matter where I am. If I need help, I ask for it. If I’m asked, I explain; and if the topic comes up (and sometimes even when it doesn’t), I disclose.
So why am I keeping my full identity a secret?
I asked myself that very question when I started this blog. On almost every other blog (if not every last one) that I frequently read, the author or authors use their full name. Everyone with notoriety in the DOC has their name out there to be Googled, to be recognized, and to be appreciated. I try to be a trusted and respected part of the community as well, and being open and honest with who I am and how I present myself is a big part of that. But one thing has held be back.
Not my current job, but my next one. I work in a highly technical field in a very volatile job-market. I’m on my third full-time job in the last three years, and the financial stability of my current employer is shaky – meaning I may be looking for a fourth in the not-too-distant future. When a prospective employer looks my name up on the net (as all hiring managers should do these days), they probably want the top results to scream “expert telecom engineer”, not “person with diabetes”. A technical-minded boss isn’t looking for someone with a touchy-feely, emotional side. They want someone who deals in facts – not theories, and can justify the meaning behind every measurement they take beyond a shadow of a doubt. When discussing diabetes, particularly BGs and A1Cs, I ponder and hypothesize but my answers are rarely conclusive.
But even if the boss can look beyond that, or can appreciate the attention-to-detail, the dedication, and the persistence that PWDs inherently possess and can apply to the job, there’s another reason: money.
Many people don’t realize this, but the medical coverage that companies offer to their employees is paid for by the employer themselves. Say I have a prescription that costs $1000, and I pay a $50 co-pay. Do you know who’s on the hook for the other $950? The employer. In large businesses, the so-called “insurance companies” (UHC, Cigna, Blue Cross, etc.) don’t pay claims; they are strictly administrative (handling paperwork, negotiating rates, and so on. It makes you wonder why they are as stingy as they are!).
So if an employer is considering hiring me, if he knows about my diabetes he may see that I’ll cost his company thousands of dollars per year in medical care and supplies. He may then offer me a lower salary, or move on to another candidate altogether. Not legally, of course, but in my line of work I encounter “numbers-people”, and numbers (especially when preceded by a dollar sign) can be powerfully convincing.
I would love nothing more than to shift professions altogether towards something diabetes-related; something that I’m passionate about and have a deep personal interest in: care, training, product development, or something similar (then I’d love to lose my job because diabetes is cured, but that’s another story!). When that happens, I’ll surely link my full identity and my “Scott E” moniker together. I’ll put my last name on here and I’ll add this blog to my résumé and my LinkedIn profile. My experience, not my diploma, will prove my worth.
Until then – and I’m taking a deep breath and feeling an air of sadness come over me as I type this – I fear that diabetes could be detrimental to a job search. That’s a real shame.
This post is my March entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetessocmed.com/2012/march-dsma-blog-carnival-2/