There are no vacations or even lunch breaks from diabetes. In addition to my day job, it can be overwhelming and frustrating. Diabetes often seems like a full-time job on top of my actual full-time employment. The other day I had to knock back a Watermelon Quick Sticks glucose packet while riding to a work function with my assistant. I didn’t want to admit I was in danger of going low. I wanted to pretend I no longer worked at my diabetes job. Sadly though, diabetes isn’t a job you can quit. My lunch was delayed and there were no snacks in sight, only a couple of glucose packets in the bottom of my purse.
Thankfully she was driving, so I began drinking the glucose. I tried to be discreet but in my always graceful fashion, I started choking and coughing on the sweet pink powder. I just needed to try to get the rest of the packet into my body before my day became far worse than a little glucose powder going down the wrong way.
It was embarrassing. Not because of my assistant, she is wonderful and has two parents with diabetes, so is kind and understands treating lows (how did I get so lucky?). But I started to think about all the inconvenient times diabetes acts up when I’m trying to keep up with the other 900 things I’ve got to do. It’s not fun having the fear of losing consciousness looming over you daily as you try to tackle your responsibilities.
I recently turned down some fruit at a meeting and was the only one in the entire room who declined. While I’m not ashamed of having diabetes, I don’t want to have to announce my medical history to a room packed with staff. I’m afraid the woman who brought the fruit might have felt a bit offended, and asked loudly clear across the room “You’re not having any? Don’t you like fruit?” I had to explain that yes, I do like fruit, but again, no thank you. She continued to stare at me puzzled, her serving spoon held in mid-air, so I mouthed the words, “I’ll tell you later.”
Several of the people in that meeting know all about my type 1 diabetes. They know that if I eat a certain amount of carbs, even a bit of fruit, that I’ll need to take my insulin shot. I don’t feel comfortable taking a shot in a work meeting, especially if I haven’t shared my medical information with everyone there.
I also had recently eaten breakfast and didn’t need any extra carbs, or for that matter, extra shots on top of the two morning shots I’d already taken. As the woman looked at me puzzled, my assistant was tempted to explain to her for me since she was sitting right next to her, but she decided it might cause more questions or unwanted attention.
Diabetes accompanies my work days with awkward moments regularly. It doesn’t matter if it is embarrassing, difficult, or even literally painful, because it’s my life. I know I have a lot more working years ahead with it reminding me it is still there. I know that in order to be successful at both the diabetes job and the day job I will need to educate people about my type 1. It’s hard, but I know I will just have to manage.