Interview with a Diabetic: When Blood Sugar Should be the Business of Your Boss
When blood sugar should be the business of your boss.
April 2006 — ‘Tis the season for Spring Fever. And for job hunters cranking up their search for Lucrative Employment Opportunities. From what my college professors and HR representatives have told me, spring is the time for applying for a new job. This includes updating your resume, lint-rolling all the cat hair off your business suit, and preparing for the interview process.
For people with diabetes, this also includes the internal debate as to when it is best to let your employer know you have diabetes.
I've given a lot of thought to this hot point. For me, I want my employer to know that I am diabetic because that keeps me safest. If someone strolls by and sees me pale and almost passed out at my desk, I can't have them think I'm recovering from a wild night of unicycling. I need for diabetes to be the first thing they think of. My safety is of utmost importance to me and I would rather endure the "I'm Kerri and I have type 1 diabetes…" educational speech than to need help and have no one tuned in. The more people who know, the safer I am.
But what about an interview environment?
I don't want anyone knowing I have diabetes until the deal is closed. When the interviewer looks at me, I want them to see a potential employee who is ready to give her all at the workplace, not one who they perceive as someone who will take extra sick days and will not be able to perform. Diabetics are protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act and employers are not to discriminate against someone for having diabetes.
I appreciate that legislation. However, it's just not enough for me.
Flashback to two years ago today: I test in the car before I go into my interview. Machine reads 104 mg/dl (5.78 mmol/l). Below 150 mg/dl (8.33 mmol/l), for me, is too low for an interview, as I know that the more nervous I become, the faster my blood sugar drops. Quick swig of juice. Switch the pump from "Beep" to "Vibrate" alarm mode and tuck it deep into my suit jacket pocket or into the holster on my leg. No one knows but me. My crucial medical alert bracelet is jangling on one arm, but it is discreet. My purse has my testing kit and a tube of glucose tabs for a just-in-case low. It's time to score a job.
The interview proceeds on its merry path, same as any other. They don't ask, because they can't, and I don't tell because diabetes doesn't affect my performance at work. Smiles exchanged, papers signed, and I'm hired.
It's not until my first or second day at work that I pull my new boss aside and tell them I have diabetes. "Just so you know, so I can feel safe," I offer.
They always respond with, "I'm glad you told me."
Now, two years later, the bottle of juice on my desk is just as ubiquitous as the cup of coffee. My boss knows I have diabetes. As do the people who sit near me. My glucagon kit is stashed in my desk drawer. And my emergency numbers are posted on my computer, clear as day.
As I sit back in my office (read: cubicle), I know I am safe. I've told those who need to know.
My job and myself are protected.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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