Diabetes in the Workplace and With Friends

This month’s blog carnival question is “Does your employer/school/friends know you have diabetes? Why or why not?”

Man talking to womanI no longer work, but when I was working, I would keep my diabetes a secret until I was on very firm footing with my employer.  Even then, it was rare I talked about it and very few people knew.

I was 24 when I was diagnosed and my employer at the time did know.  They knew that I was a good employee and it was rare that I took a day off.  At one time, I worked over a month straight (that included Saturdays and Sundays) without having a day off.  After being diagnosed, I had a lot of doctor’s appointments for awhile and I really did not feel it was necessary to hide what was going on.

Like a lot of people do, I went thru a rough time after my diagnosis.  I decided to change jobs.  I accepted a new job and the first few days I was there, my new boss wasn’t around much so we didn’t have a chance to talk.  He was a small employer and did not have a group health plan.  He gave me an application for insurance and one of the questions asked if you were diabetic.  When he saw that I had checked that box, he literally freaked out.  He thought that I would be having a lot of seizures.  I assured him that I never had a seizure.  Fortunately I had been there a few days before he saw that and he had already told me that he was surprised how fast I was picking everything up.  Hopefully, that helped ease the blow a little for him and he at least gave me a chance.

After that experience, I kept my mouth shut in the beginning and didn’t tell anyone.  Even when an employer did find out, I tried not to let diabetes interfere in my job.  In the early days with the older insulins, eating meals on time was important.  I would always make sure that I had a sandwich with me or keep some food items stashed in my desk just in case.  I had one boss that used to regularly schedule a meeting with a client at the time I needed to eat lunch and I never once complained about it.  I would always eat before the meeting so it would not be a problem.

One employer found out accidentally the first week.  My mother is a worry-wart and when I wasn’t home one night, she called my cousin.  My cousin knew my new boss so he called him and in their conversation, told him that I was diabetic.  The next morning, my boss approached me and told me that my cousin told him that I was diabetic.  He didn’t have a problem with it because he was Type 2.

Friends dancingAs far as friends go, when I was working most of my friends were made thru work.  As long as I was in a position at work to be able to tell them, I did.  If we were going out, they would find out that I was taking insulin.  I am a lot more open about it now than what I used to be so don’t have a problem telling people.

“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/

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6 thoughts on “Diabetes in the Workplace and With Friends

  1. Thanks for sharing – like you I wasn’t always so open about diabetes as I am now (in fact, I wen through great lengths to hide it). I’m so sorry that boss freaked out when he saw your insurance form – that sure doesn’t make things any easier. I’m glad we are both more confident and comfortable about disclosing now!

    • Thanks Karen. I read your article also that you didn’t used to be open either. I guess there are a bunch of us on that front! I am also glad that we are both more confident about disclosing it. Now you can’t get me to shut up about it!

  2. Excellent post Kelly. I’m lucky with the company I work for right now (Body1) that they know about my having diabetes. The only time I had problems was in a school board I worked for – after 12 years – they had complaints about my occassional testing of BG’s and taking insulin – at that time I was going over to the pump. Sssh – when I quit – due to their disapproal of what I did in the classroom – I was wondering – how is it for students in their school system with diabetes? I know for myself – being diabetic most of my life – I’ve never hidden it – it is what makes me ME!!!! To me – you still work – all the great stuff that you do in the D-OC outweighs anything that a paid stiff would get ten fold!!!

    • Thanks Anna. Body1 should know about your diabetes since you write about it! I think some kids in the US are allowed to test in the class. I have a friend with a 15-16 year old in PA and he has to go to the nurses office to test. She has to take his stuff to school because a pen is a weapon and he can’t have it on the bus.

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Kelly. Ironically, I wrote about this today too! I’m sorry you experienced that back when you were working. I’m fortunate to have not had any issues with bosses or coworkers freaking out over time, and I haven’t always shared. But I can see the pros and cons to each.

    • Thanks Mike. I did read your post yesterday morning and meant to go back and comment. I got sidetracked and didn’t make it back. I think your post shows why it is important to let someone you work with know, just in case. I know I don’t need to tell you that lows come out of the blue and you don’t realize something is wrong until you wake up with EMTs over you.

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