Just a few weeks ago I learned I’m a diabetic. That came as a surprise I can tell you and it’s largely for this reason that I haven’t written a blog in a week. I will share how it’s affecting me in the workplace and what I’ve done in the early days of diagnosis as maybe you can find something in my experience to help you should you or someone in your own place of work go through something akin to this.
I wouldn’t even know to this day I had diabetes had I not taken it upon myself to visit my doctor. I had started 2016 at 220 pounds you see and had made a conscious effort to lose weight and had come down to 177; a drop of 43 pounds over 7 months. I felt great and was proud of my commitment to my goal and the results.
The problem? People at work that once congratulated me and told me I looked great started to say things like, “Oh but you don’t have cancer do you?” or, “I’m concerned about you.” So my motivation in seeing the doctor wasn’t about feeling terrible or having symptoms I could recognize but more to get the good word that all was well so I could assure both co-workers and the people I serve that I’m fine.
The doctor congratulated me on the weight loss but did some blood work as a routine check. That’s when I discovered that instead of a blood reading between 4 and 7, I’d hit 14. It even went as high as 20 over the next few days.
Now diabetes is manageable and perhaps not the big scare for you that it is for me. You see at 57 years of age, I’ve had little more than the odd cold every couple of years and I’ve certainly never been on any medications. I’ve never smoked, done drugs and the only alcohol I’ve ever had pass my lips is in mouthwash. I’ve never even had a sip of coffee either. There’s no history of diabetes in my family either; so it has hit me rather hard. I can’t help but ask, why me?
I’ve set out immediately with the mindset that I can beat this thing. I’m going to repair this damaged machine called my body and I’m certainly going to have a healthy retirement in the years to come not hampered by illness. Maybe I’m naïve in thinking I can eliminate diabetes from my life but that’s the thinking.
In addition to changing my eating habits, I made the decision last week to tell everybody I work with rather than hide it. Now my diabetes is type 2; no needles, just some pills in the morning and with dinner, cut out the sugar intake and test the blood sugar throughout the day.
My co-workers now know I don’t have cancer; see things could have been worse. I’m glad I told them because I’ve eliminated you see their urgings to have the sweets they bring in from time-to-time. So hopefully they won’t push me to try a bite of cake, share a doughnut etc. We don’t have these sweets all the time, but we do have cakes in the workplace to celebrate the end of our classes and other staff have dangled such treats within my earshot.
I also know that whenever I’m at a conference or meeting where food is provided, I have to alert those ahead of time that I’m diabetic and have them make whatever provisions for a substitute meal that they can. Oh and if I’m off in the staff washroom I might be testing my blood levels once or twice a day.
As for the people I serve, I haven’t told them yet but I will as I see doing so might help them in some way. As I work with people on social assistance; many of whom have mental and physical health issues, it might be good for some of them to hear of my diabetes and how I manage it. Some of them might find my situation and my own ability to empathize with their own circumstances a positive thing.
I’ve yet to meet with a Dietician or Nutritionist, so working on my own with just some changes in diet have brought my scores from the 14’s and 20’s down to a few 9’s and even a 7 and a 6. That’s extremely encouraging and it’s only been three weeks.
Now that I’ve disclosed my diabetes (and I did it at a conference with 150 employees in attendance from the podium while presenting on a topic), I’ve had good support. One fellow came up and shared his own diagnosis which he got two months ago. It was good for him to hear me and I certainly appreciated his words of being surprised with his diagnosis and so it wasn’t only me.
If you have a health issue, I certainly encourage you to share it with your boss, co-workers and of course your family and friends. It’s a load off the mind to do so. These are the people I hope you can trust to hear your story and support you as you deal with it moving forward.
Written By Kelly Mitchell
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