Sometimes diabetes presents us with issues that can impact a lot more than our health. While most people think about improving their diet and exercise routine to stay healthy, I was motivated to improve my health so that I could stay employed. Being in the military required that I meet certain health standards and being diagnosed with diabetes presented me with a dilemma that I hadn’t anticipated. Worst of all is that being on meds or being diagnosed with a “chronic” illness can jeopardize career advancement.
Having a 15.7 A1C and 474 blood sugar reading at the time I was diagnosed, medical professionals wanted to prescribe me insulin. I fought this because I knew that I would be doomed as far as career advancement was concerned. After all, I was at a critical point in my career where success in my next job would make or break me, and the last thing that I needed was to be on insulin. Diabetes itself was enough as chronic illnesses if left unchecked, can result in one facing a medical evaluation board and possibly involuntary discharge. The magic number was 7.0 at the time, and as long as my A1C stayed below 7.0 I was safe. Once I got into a good exercise routine, I had no problems keeping my A1C under the threshold albeit was often 6.9. However, since retiring, I’ve heard that the military has raised the threshold to 6.0.
I’ll admit that I took drastic actions to get my numbers where they needed to be but sometimes when you’re stuck between a rock and a hard spot, you’ll choose the rock. Knowing that my family’s livelihood rested on my ability to stay on Active Duty, meds were not an option because the last thing that I wanted was to be hindered, isolated, or passed over for someone healthier. The military is just one profession where chronic health issues can lead to a shortened career. Sure, they will do their best to prescribe treatment and counseling to get your health where it needs to be but at the end of the day, having certain medical issues can sometimes lead to someone else being selected for certain assignments. Look at it this way; you’re about to board an airplane and you have your choice of a pilot that is a diabetic and one who is not. Which pilot would you choose?