Having diabetes does not mean you cannot have a successful career. What it does mean, however, is that you must plan ahead and organize your day in a way that prevents your blood sugar levels from dipping below healthy levels, having an adverse effect on both your health and your job. Knowledge is power when afflicted with a chronic health condition such as diabetes. The more you know about how to properly care for yourself, the more productive your day will be.
Begin Your Day With Breakfast
Part of proper organization is eating breakfast every day before leaving for work. As a diabetic it is imperative that you eat three meals every day, breakfast being the most important. This is particularly important if you take insulin to control and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. If you take your insulin without eating cannot only result in hypoglycemia–low blood sugar–but poor job performance as well. A healthy breakfast for a diabetic is Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, wholegrain bread and a cheese stick. This is low in sugar and provides everything from each of the food groups.
Schedule Your Meals For Work
You must schedule your meals ahead of time for work, this is non-negotiable. When you have a medical condition as serious as diabetes, you cannot leave anything to chance. Pack your lunch each day with diabetic friendly foods such as a sandwich and piece of fruit, or whatever you know you can safely eat. When you plan ahead, you know you will always make healthy choices no matter where you may be.
Talk to Your Boss
You do not have to wear a sign on your head announcing you have diabetes, but you should make someone at your job aware of your situation. Let’s face it, you are going to have to test your blood sugar at some point throughout the day, and this may make some of your coworkers uncomfortable. Letting your boss know when you have to test may allow you a special break time to do this. You should also plan ahead and bring a discreet way to dispose of your testing lancets. An empty milk carton is an excellent option for this. You should also keep extra alcohol swabs at the office if possible. Make the entire process as private as possible.
You may need to give yourself insulin injections at some point during the day, and again, this requires privacy. In most cases the insulin must be refrigerated. Here are some options to consider. There is long-lasting insulin injections that only need to be given once every eight hours. This reduces the number of times you must inject yourself, making it more convenient for you while at work. Another option if there is no refrigerator at your workplace is a small cooler bag with a product called an IceyBag. This is a refreezable bag that keeps your insulin cold all day.
Carry Diabetic Friendly Food
Always have diabetic friendly food with you at all times in case your blood sugar begins to drop. This includes hard candy, small cans of orange juice or a piece of fruit. Anything that will boost your blood sugar levels quickly is what you want to have on hand.
Let Your Colleagues Know
It is a good idea to let your colleagues know what hypoglycemia is, what the signs are and what they need to do for you in case your blood sugar levels drop despite all your efforts. This does not mean you have to tell everyone you work with about your disease, however, you should tell those who work closest to you. Things they should watch for includes but is not limited to your skin becoming cold and clammy, you having problems concentrating, irritability, hostility, fatigue, excessive hunger, and unsteady gait, abdominal pain and nausea. If you feel faint, are experiencing blurred vision or dizziness, are experiencing nervousness or feel like you are going to go unconscious, tell someone immediately.
Make sure your colleagues know not to give you food or drink if you go unconscious, and that it is imperative to call 999 immediately
Having diabetes and working is undoubtedly challenging, but not impossible. As long as you take every step necessary to protect yourself by planning ahead, organizing your day and making sure the right people are given the proper information, you can remove most of the challenge and replace it with success, having a long and healthy career and life.