Same diabetes, new audience.

Many of you know that my job has seen a few changes lately. After over 19 years as part of my company’s Human Resources department, I am now in Technology.

That transition hasn’t been too difficult. I was really doing technology-related work anyway, and my daily duties haven’t changed much, though they’ve changed a little. The team I work with now has been very welcoming. It’s been about as smooth as I could have hoped.

But (and you knew there would be a But)… I’m working with a new group of people, on a new floor. And most of them don’t know that I live with diabetes. It took me years to get my HR colleagues comfortable with my diabetes. How am I going to transition my diabetes to a new environment?

Well, I have a few things going for me. First of all, I am not the same person who walked in the door of my company with barely seven years experience with Type 1 diabetes. Also, I know way, way more about diabetes, how to manage diabetes, and how to advocate for myself than I did back then.

And my company has changed too. We’re not the same white shirt, dark suit wearing uber conservatives that we were in 1998… though no one could ever accuse me of being a white shirt, dark suit wearing uber conservative, then or now. Today, as a whole, we’re much more accepting, much more caring.

It helps too that one of the people on my team, two desks down, wears exactly the same insulin pump that I do. We might be the only two pumpers in the entire building, maybe the entire company. So in the diabetes respect, I am in a much more advantageous position today.

But even if I weren’t… how would I deal with it? How do I express and educate others at work about diabetes? Pretty much the same way I do now.

By being open enough to do BG checks at my desk, and my new desk is in one of the most conspicuous places on our floor.

By checking my CGM in the middle of a meeting.

By sharing things like clinical trial participation and my volunteer work with DPAC and the Diabetes UnConference.

Sometimes, by shocking my co-workers, eating a cookie or two that someone brought in. Or by turning down a cookie or two and doubling down on water when my BG is high, and explaining that.

Now, it would be easy to say I do these things because I’m a diabetes advocate, and because I want to set a good example. Because I can hopefully help someone who encounters another person with diabetes understand. All those things are true.

But I also do these things because I just don’t have the patience anymore to bring people along slowly on my diabetes. They work with me, they should know about the diabetes. I’ve survived 26 years with this condition. I think I’ve earned the right not to keep it to myself until I’ve made them comfortable enough to handle it.

Work is hard sometimes. Diabetes can be hard all the time. I like to think that people are stronger than we sometimes give them credit for. My new co-workers are nice.

My only advice: don’t sell your co-workers short. They can handle your diabetes. And if they can’t? Better you know now. Don’t give yourself overtime trying to figure out how to ease them into the diagnosis you’re already living with.

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Comments

  • Rick Phillips  On June 19, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    My thing was always to take out the glucagon and tell my co-workers what it was and that they should grab and jab. Maybe it helps that I was a boss. Grab and jab, I noticed people got much more in tune with my diabetes and where I kept my juice boxes. Grab and Jab.

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