Header Ads

Diabetes In The Workplace

Diabetes In The Workplace

The “best” part of being an adult is finding a proper job. Once you have that job and are actually making money that you have control over, you finally stop feeling like a teenager. This could come at 18, 25, or somewhere in between. However, if you have a life altering disease like diabetes (which literally takes over your life) than you my friend are in for an interesting ride as an employe.

When we finish high school, most of us think that we can get a good job if we go to college. So after college, there are many of us who get a decent job but the income does not reflect the cost of living. So we think we can get an even better job if we go to grad school and some of us jump the gun by actually going to grad school while staying with the current job. Which is great if you can do all the above but adding diabetes to the melting pot causes another conundrum. So if you were super healthy (not saying diabetics are not healthy), disease free, and had limited stress from a personal health standpoint these goals could be seemingly achievable. Even as a diabetic these goals may seem achievable, but the reality could be a completely different ball game.

Diabetes In The Workplace
My first official job was as a college student at a learning center within the college. The hours were flexible and it was a pretty laid back job if I worked evening, which for the most part I did. However there was a semester where I couldn’t do the usual evening hours so I had to pick morning hours, and that by far was the worst experience ever. Now as a diabetic, I often get highs or lows early in the morning. Its not an exclusively morning thing but it does happen. As we all know, either episode makes you feel like crap. I felt very lethargic and exhausted; sometimes I wouldn’t have the energy to even get out of bed in time to take public transportation to the college (which happened to be about 2 hours away) during rush hour. I would either end up being late or on occasion have to call out sick because I would just feel so horrible. Now I had another issue, if I was going to be more than 30 minutes late my weird logic would tell me to just call out because there was no point in going in. Sure this worked for a while because I would only have a 2 or 3 hour shifts. But I felt that I was wasting their time if I showed up late so I might not come in at all, which now that I think about it doesn’t make any sense. Nonetheless, that’s what I did.

 Eventually, my boss called me in to a meeting about my work habits. I was a great worker while I was there it was the inconsistencies that put a kink in the work environment. The boss lady was understanding but she also gave me an ultimatum, get my stuff together and give them a notice in advance when I am sick (early in the morning) or leave the job so to speak. I couldn’t afford to lose the job so I did my absolute best and worked on getting my depression under control to a degree. I lasted at that job for about 5 years so it wasn’t terrible and I feel like that was the case because they were accommodating to a degree about my issues and it was a cushion job with limited hours so it didn’t require my full attention.

Motivation, learning, diabtetes, unfair treatment
6 months after graduating college, I got a job teaching pre-k at a private school. I absolutely loved being around kids and teaching them new and exciting things. The pay was crap but I did it anyway. I would spend hours after school every single day, to work on the classroom, fill out paperwork, and tweak my lesson plans. Mind you I had to travel about 2 hours to get to school and 2 hours to get home. Eventually this caught up with my body, my blood sugars weren’t in perfect control but I tried my best. However the mental and physical exhaustion tied in with my roller coaster blood sugar numbers got to me. I would end up getting a cold and being sick once every few weeks. I would also have days where I physically could not get out of bed in the mornings; this is attributed to many factors, the blood sugars being one, exhaustion both mental and physical, and sleep deprivation. When I was at work I gave it my all but there were days when I couldn’t come in due to these serious health issues. Since I mentioned that this was a private school, we were often short staffed. Most days, I had to manage a classroom of 17 pre-k kids by myself all day without getting a break. Despite the fact that by law we were required to have an assistant with us at all times if there were more than 5 children in the classroom. So there goes bathroom time and any sense of maintaining a healthy diet, as well as check my blood sugar and injecting insulin as I was on the pen and needles form of therapy at that time. All of these things could cause serious issues and complications for me and I began to be unhappy. I loved the work but the support wasn’t there and I really couldn’t do it all and focus on my health as well as give my family time.

The administration ran the school like a business and was very displeased with the fact that I would often have to call out. I received many warning for being late and being absent, despite having given them valid medical reasons.  I tried my best but with everything I had to do, plus travel time, staying late to complete unfinished work in the classroom, my budding health issues, and the stress of having the administration breathing down my back and criticizing my every move, positive and negative, I just got fed up. I would complain to my friends and family and they would all advise that I leave the job, which was something that I didn’t want to do since it was my first official full time job. I didn’t want to seem like a quitter by just giving up with the tough gets going. On a separate note, I ended up getting married that school year and I had to request to take a few days off, not to take a honeymoon which should have been the case, but to deal with legal paperwork and other issues that required me to travel to various government offices to update information. This request was met with the most out right angry I have ever experienced. Unfortunately these were things that needed to be done. I did take the days off because it was a necessity.

When I went back to work, I was summoned into the office and told that my conduct was not satisfactory and that despite having spent so much time to improve the classroom and school I had to decided what I want to do. More or less they forced me to resign, using my medically needed absences as a major excuse and the past few personal days as a minor excuse. Citing how it’s not fair to the students for their teacher to not be in the classroom once a week. I didn’t want to resign but in that environment where the administration was so unsupportive, I felt it was the only option I had. The sad part was there was about 1 month left to the end of the school year. Afterwards, I realized that their conduct was a form of employee abuse, not giving us proper breaks or bathroom usage times, not being allowed to take care of medical needs because the students need all the focus and attention, and not providing us with the proper assistance to do our job. Once I came to that conclusion, I was glad to have left the job, but it was still a crushing disappointment. However, I did use that time to work on my health, get my sugars in better control, and focus on the relationships in my life.

Before the start of the following school year, I did find a position at another private school. I taught elementary grades at this school. I enjoyed working with older students as they were a bit more responsible of their actions and for the most part had complete control over their bladders, which is always a plus when working with children. Sure all jobs have their ups and downs and this was no different but I appreciated the fact that I could go up to my admin and voice my opinions without being judged or looked down upon. I liked that I was able to have a positive relationship with my direct supervisor, where I was able to get advice and bounce back ideas.

teacher, school, elementry, learning, diabetes

As any teacher will tell you, it’s a blessing to find the administration that is ready to take your side and is able to support you in a positive way. Sure I wish, as weird as it sounds, that I was able to have more professional development to hone my craft. However, overall I was very content at the workplace. I still stayed after school for hours on end to get everything done in terms of grading and making sure my classroom looked like a proper classroom. The travel time to and from the school was still the same so there were some things that didn’t changed. I find that because everyone was pleasant with me that it made it worth it to work all these extra hours. Sure the income was not that different from the other place but it was alright. I actually learned a lot while teaching and I found every opportunity to go to see how other teachers were teaching, bounce back ideas from them and get advice for just about everything. I felt at home at the school, the sad part was that there was no room for growth in terms of income no matter the experience or degrees you had. It was still a great starting point to actually go back to school and get another degree.

However, as much as we ignore the diabetes it is still a massive part of your life and eventually catches up to you. I found myself falling into a spiral again, where I would have uncontrolled blood sugar numbers and the stress of getting everything done, along with sleep deprivation and exhaustion got to me again. I started getting sick; first it started with a cold that would last for a few weeks, than a few other infections added on. By the end of the first year I had been out at least once every 2 weeks, and late 3 out of the 5 days during the week. No matter how hard I tried to get back on track, it just didn’t work. I would try to eat right but not have the time to go to the bathroom or check my sugar and inject the insulin needed.

By the middle of my second year, I got called in to the office and was told that they would have to let me go by the end of the year due to excessive absences and lateness. I was fed up with being sick before this and began looking into natural remedies of boosting my immune system and getting some energy back. After getting the news that I might not have a job next year, I was devastated. I needed the income to meet my basic needs. I was furious at first, thinking to myself that here is another job that is using my illness against me. Sure I felt deep down that it was my fault and eventually came to terms with it, but that initial anger and disappointment didn’t go away. I accepted it for what it was, a chance to make a change, and focused on making myself better so that the next job I have, I wouldn’t have this issue of getting sick often. I started taking multi-vitamins, royal jelly, and maca root. Combined with a slightly better diet I was feeling a bit better within a month. My numbers were still horrible but I didn’t feel so bad physically and mentally. The administration got me in touch with a doctor as well to see if some advice to get me on track would work. I took whatever leeway I got. One month before the school ended, I got called into the office and was told that they are looking to place me in another classroom for next year if I was interested.

I was shocked and thrilled that they were willing to accept my faults and focus on the good points. As a diabetic and a person who suffers from depression, it’s very difficult to find bosses/supervisors who accept your negatives and praise your positives. I took the position for the next year and continued on making myself feel better and getting back on a healthy track. I was so fortunate to be blessed with this since I know not many people in my position would have gotten a second chance in our dog eats dog world.

No comments

Please Subscribe by Email

Powered by Blogger.