Making It Work
Finding the healthy balance between work, life, and diabetes.
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
August 2007 — Between commuting and the time spent at work, most people who work full-time spend more waking hours at their jobs than with their significant others. When one or both partners have a chronic illness such as diabetes, it can interfere with all aspects of daily life, including time spent at the workplace.
A few years ago, Greg spent all night in the bathroom with a nasty stomach bug. Worries about his well-being, such as making sure he stayed hydrated enough and that his blood sugar levels weren't becoming a problem, kept me up with him. Come morning, I was concerned that his blood sugar readings would remain erratic, not to mention that I was exhausted from getting very little sleep.
Fortunately for me, I was employed with a medical manufacturer at the time and my manager along with several co-workers were registered nurses. They were aware that Greg had type 1 diabetes, so when I called to say why I wouldn't be coming into work, it wasn't a big deal. Even though I am no longer with that company, I wouldn't hesitate to stay home if another similar situation arose.
Greg's current employer allows for working at home once or twice a week, which came in handy the day after his stomach bug. A couple of years later, he needed that option more than ever. Greg experienced a hypoglycemic seizure at a grocery store on the way home from work on a Friday evening. Although he was given the all-clear at the emergency room, he was ordered not to drive until he saw his endocrinologist. Working from home allowed him to follow doctor's orders and treat his back pain for a few days.
Although I don't have the luxury of working from home in my current position, I feel like I have other options for making sure I take care of myself. I made it clear when I took the job that I needed a healthy work-life balance to maintain control of my type 2 diabetes. I couldn't ask for more in a company with the relaxed environment provided to employees. Ping-pong table in the break room, on-site massages, and the ability to take longer lunch breaks for exercising in the Colorado sun - all perks to make the work day a little easier.
The department in which I work is often under tight deadlines, so at times it can be a challenge to maintain that work-life balance. I have learned that worrying about getting my assigned tasks completed only leads to stress, which only leads to food cravings and exhaustion. Instead, I do what I can in a timely manner. No overtime is expected of me, which allows for all the things I need to do to keep me healthy – exercise, seven or more hours of sleep, and spending a little more time picking out nutritious breakfasts and lunches. If I'm not staying healthy, I can't be a good employee.
The comfort level I have with my superiors is such that I was able to tell them about going on metformin and the side effects that might occur. Despite leaving work early a couple days, I was able to finish daily and monthly tasks without much problem, earning the praise of my superiors.
Finding the right work environment isn't always easy. With a chronic condition like diabetes, there is so much more to consider. Flexible and relaxed work environments like ours help with the management of diabetes, even if we still end up spending more time with co-workers than with each other.
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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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