Diabetes Awareness: Diabetes on the Job
When you go to work, your diabetes goes with you.
You get up, get showered, get breakfast, get to work. You have bills, therefore you have a job.
But you also have diabetes. You have to care for your diabetes while you're at work. Here are 10 tips for merging
your diabetes care with your career.
1. Wear medical identification jewelry
- If you ever need medical assistance at work, the emergency medical personnel will know you have diabetes.
2. Decide who to tell
- All things being equal, it might be in your best interest to let a few trusted co-workers or your boss know. Just for your own safety.
3. Give your co-workers a chance
- Don't just assume that your boss won't accommodate you, or that your co-workers won't be helpful. Give them a chance to grasp what diabetes is and understand how they can help you,
particularly if you've been diagnosed since starting your current job. Diabetes may be as new to them as it is to you.
4. Get it in writing
- If necessary, get a doctor's note. It may help to get a medical statement from your doctor saying what your diabetes care needs are. Present it to your company nurse or human resources department, and make sure your supervisor gets a copy.
5. Be your own advocate
- Your local hospital or diabetes center may offer programs through which diabetes educators can come to your workplace and explain to your human resources department, supervisors,
or co-workers what diabetes is and how they can make the workplace more diabetes-friendly. See if your employer is willing to host such a program.
6. Don't abuse the system
- Unfortunately, there are people who claim extensive health challenges and reap disability benefits their situation may not warrant. That makes it harder for everyone. It's best to
save sick days and disability pay for when you really need them.
7. Plan ahead
- The biggest challenge many people with diabetes face is access to meals and breaks. Have snacks readily available should you need to treat a low.
8. Take your equipment with you
- Keep your blood glucose meter and supplies where you can reach them. Don't leave blood glucose meters or insulin in the car. Extreme temperatures can affect them.
9. Watch out for stress
- Stress can wreak havoc on your blood sugars. Stress can cause either high or low blood sugar. It differs from person
to person, and sometimes from situation to situation in the same person. Stress may mask symptoms of low blood sugar, or prompt completely different symptoms. Frequent monitoring is your best defense.
10. Keep good diabetes control
- The best thing you can do to remain productive is to stay healthy. Don't let your diabetes get so far out of control that you're not able to work. If you're eating well, exercising, and controlling your blood sugars, you will have a productive work life.
The payoff from a job well done is that if and when you need to take time off for your diabetes care, your boss and
co-workers will remember your good track record and be that much more willing to cover for you or help you with scheduling. By communicating with your employer and taking responsibility for your care, you can incorporate your
diabetes care into your work life successfully.
If you feel that your employer is not making reasonable accommodations to allow you to care for your diabetes at
work, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at: (800) 669-4000 or (800) 669-6820 TTY.
Ask your doctor about diabetes and have your blood sugar checked several times a year.
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