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Juggling diabetes at work

Once again we share a post from our good friend Nikki Wallis, on a trick she learned to help her manage her diabetes at work. Enjoy!

Do you find it tricky to manage your diabetes when you have a million things going on?

Diabetes is challenging at the best of times, but let’s face it, it can be even trickier at work or uni, or when you have multiple deadlines and a million things on your mind.

I had a recent experience that changed the way I now do things at work.

It taught me to be more confident with my diabetes and to find little tricks to make managing my diabetes in difference situations, that much easier.

So what happened? 

I was running a meeting recently and towards the end, I found myself starting to pause. 

At that point, I realised that my worst fear had come true … my bloods were starting to drop. 

I’ve had type 1 diabetes for over 35 years and it’s definitely a 24/7 condition.

Diabetes is challenging at the best of times; there’s the constant monitoring of blood sugar levels, carbohydrate counting and insulin dosing.

But every now and then, diabetes slaps you in the face, and throws you a curve-ball you weren’t expecting. 

Unexpected lows are bad enough on a normal day at home, but in the workplace this can be even tougher.

I had done a test before the meeting and was 5.2, so I wasn’t expecting my bloods to drop much. But they did. 

Generally I find it easy to manage my diabetes at work, because I’m lucky to have an office job and can test my bloods and have a snack at any time if I need to.

But when my bloods started to fall during this meeting, it rattled me, because I wasn’t expecting to experience what I did. 

Instinct 

My instinct was to interrupt the meeting to reach into my bag for some lollies.

But I was shocked to find that my survival instinct was suppressed by thoughts of how this would be perceived by people in the room.

“You don’t eat in meetings, it’s rude,” I thought. 

I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so for me, professionally there is no room for error.

In a world driven by KPIs, deadlines, competition and constant drive to be better, we all put a lot of pressure on ourselves, with or without diabetes.

The dilemma 

What to do.

I thought of excusing myself and pretending I had to go to the bathroom, but again, survival instinct was taken over by thoughts of how this would be perceived.

“You should have gone to the bathroom before the meeting started, how disorganised,” I thought. 

Then a light bulb idea came to mind – I’d pretend I have a really important phone call, that way I could leave the room.

But no, again my survival instinct was quashed by thoughts of how this would be perceived.

So I was left with only one option – to walk the plank and finish the meeting. This is exactly what I did.

Aftermath realisation 

Once the meeting was over, I politely dashed out of the room and ate some lollies. I felt my blood sugars returning to normal, which generally is a relief, but not this time.

The reality of the situation had kicked in.

I wish I had gone with my gut and intervened.

The irony was that the room was full of people who work in health and know all about diabetes and healthcare.

In hindsight, no one would have blinked an eye-lid if I’d said something.

At that moment, I realised just how much pressure I had put on myself to be, dare I say it, ‘normal’. 

This is the struggle that many of us face. 

Unfortunately I can’t fix my diabetes, there’s no cure. I can’t get rid of it.

A realisation struck me at that point – as daunting as this was, it probably won’t be the last time I’d face a situation like this. So now what? 

I had to be resilient.

I had to do things differently.

Little tricks 

The reality is there’s not a great deal you can do. You can’t fix diabetes. 

So little changes could make a big difference. I decided to try something new.

Generally, I carry around lollies in a plastic Tupperware container in my bag, but opening and closing it can be noisy and awkward.

I wanted a solution that would be quiet, quick and non-distracting. But what? 

That night, I found myself rummaging in the cupboard and came across some packets of Mentos left over from my daughter’s Birthday party.

“Perfect”, I thought!

They were just the right size and because of the cylindrical packet, they fit nicely into my work folder, which has a hidden compartment where I could store them discreetly for easy access. 

I could also easily slip out a Mentos from the packet without making lots of noise or commotion.

Now I’m not affiliated with Mentos so I’m not trying to convince you to buy a particular lolly. I eat all kinds. The point is that finding the right product for your situation, can make a big difference.  

For me, this small change meant the difference between being too nervous to take action, versus having the confidence to take control of a situation.  

This experience enabled me to change my own perception of how I manage my diabetes and to build confidence and resilience.  

Now mentally and physically better equipped, I’m ready for my next diabetes challenge. Look out diabetes here I come!

(Read Nikki's blog here)

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