A recent guest blog post by Cherise about job interviews and diabetes made me think about how our common chronic condition applies on the job, once we’re actually doing whatever they hired us to do.
Who do you tell? When do you tell them? How do you prepare for regular daily activities and those special instances, and what is the response if diabetes interferes? How do you respond to those who may witness a Low or have to fetch candy or juice in response?
The Working D-Life can present any number of issues depending on the type of business or industry one works in, and how often they’re exposed to that role. For example, an office worker sitting in front of a computer or on the phone all day will likely face different issues and hurdles than someone who works retail and stands all day at a cash register or outside doing yardwork.
I’ve had my share of High and Low D-Experiences on the job during my life, in various positions. From hectic newspaper jobs, stable office positions, active retail roles in grocery stores, banquet hall server, and outdoor landscaping. Each has presented its own nuances in dealing with diabetes on the job. Most of my employers and co-workers have been understanding and willing to work with me. Haven’t experienced any discrimination or unfair treatment that I’ve heard others have had in their own lives.
Professionally, I’ve been sitting in front of a computer at work when without warning my blood sugar dropped dangerously Low – leading me to get tired and put my head down, resulting in my passing out on the floor and having my coworkers call the paramedics. That position didn’t last long, but it wasn’t specifically because of that experience that did create embarassment and guilt in my time afterward.
I’ve also worked in retail positions in my younger years and as a restaurant server, and it just meant being more diligent in testing and making sure everything was OK to work. Outside landscaping presented some interesting issues right after my high school graduation (before insulin pumping), but again it was all manageable and just meant having some candy or quick-acting carbs on hand just in case. Of course, fleeing from the bees and wasps presented an entirely different and more concerning challenge!)
My last reporting position at a daily newspaper was anything but conducive to effective D-Management for me, and it only lasted a couple rocky years in large part because of my suffering health. This wasn’t a role I could be lax in working, and work from a home office or take it slow when feeling Low or High. Always on deadline and on the go, and it was brutal on my body. Thankfully, I found what I describe as a perfect job at a legal newspaper that publishes twice a month and allows for MUCH more flexiblity.
Working with a small team of five people (my boss, a managing editor, and two other reporters), everyone is aware of my health issues and they’re extremely understanding. I told my boss and supervisor up front about my health issues (second interview, if I recall correctly). No one hesitates to help or support or give me flexibility whenever needed. My boss doesn’t step overboard in sometimes “acting like a mom,” and I can’t stand that it sometimes is necessary, but she makes a point to know my schedule just in case I don’t appear as normal. I write down all my interviews and meetings on my desk calendar or let someone know in advance if there’s a change, and if by chance she can’t reach me we have the emergency contact (my wife) on hand to jump into action. My boss is about the best I’d ever be able to find, and loves learning more whenever there’s time and I care to share aspects of my D-Life.
That flexibility and work support is something you can easily take for granted, but it makes all the difference in creating a place you want to come to everyday as far as having that great quality of workplace and achieving a balance between health and job duties.