Tuesday 25 May 2010

One of the lucky ones

Every time this happens I feel guilty, as though it is my fault for being 'the way I am'.

Every time this happens, paranoia sets in about what people will think.

Every time this happens I worry what impression of diabetes I am giving people.

Every time this happens, I wonder whether I should have just gotten on with my day, regardless of how I felt.

'Every time this happens is,' is every time I take a sick day off work.

On a number of occasions I have heard people talk about how diabetics get ill more frequently than others. I used to believe this until someone corrected me. Yes I do still get ill, but my last bout of flu was almost 10 years ago, my last cold was about a year ago, and my last stomach bug was 2 years ago, almost to the month! Other than this, I don't seem to have a heightened sickness rate over the next person.

But when I do take off, it is usually diabetes. I strive on a daily basis to keep as tight a control on my condition as possible, whilst still allowing myself the freedom to live a little. Two nights ago I wanted some chocolate. Did I consider the effect it might have in my future if I get the insulin dose calculation wrong and end up with high sugars? Did I worry about how I might feel later? Did I worry that the specialist dietitian at the clinic would probably advise fruit instead?

Urrrrrr, NO!

I chowed down not only on a fantastically delicious and unregretable chocolate bar, but it happened to be the biggest bar of chocolate I could find at the store!!

It turns out that I did calculate it right and my sugars stayed fine. Score!

But the fact remains when things do go wrong and when my sugars get chaotic and I end up in the high 20s, I can't physically cope. On Sunday, after the Loophole and Pitfall discovery of mine (), I woke up on Monday with sugars all over the show, feeling emotional, physically drained and frankly, awful. If you've ever had sugars running in the high 20s for a while, you will know exactly what I mean.

So I called into work and spoke to my boss.

Every time something likes this happens (not that it's often - but it happens), I always feel this sense of guilt. Many diabetics talk about how guilt creeps its nasty way into their lives, but this is the time I feel it most most. For some people it sneaks in at snack times when they want a 'treat'. For others it is that they don't exercise enough. For some, it's that 'they didn't take better care of themselves when they were young', as though they were ever supposed to have enough foresight to just 'know' what was going to happen. No-one does, that's the problem.

For me, it is when I take a sick day off because I haven't got it right. Whatever 'right' is anyway! Time and again I worry what people will think. Time and again I kick myself, telling myself I should have this sorted by now. Time and again I think that somehow it affect what people will think about diabetes.

So why I put myself through the guilt trip I don't know. Perhaps it is the old do as I say and not as I do rule. Perhaps it's in my nature.

The funny thing is, despite worrying what people think and never cutting myself any slack, my employer clearly doesn't see it as a problem. I've had 2 days off since starting my job 6 months ago. Both were diabetes related, both were blood sugar related. But when I phone, I get nothing short of total concern for my welfare. I get told in no uncertain terms that I don't come back until I am well and fit. I get filled with a sense of compassion and understanding.

I know I am one of the lucky ones. I know that even though diabetes is there clear as day on the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in black and white, there are people struggling to convince their employers that they need a lunch break or that if they have to snack, they HAVE to snack.

I know that there are many things I can be grateful for when it comes to MY diabetes. For an ever-understanding group of friends, who appreciate why I don't drink much anymore and never hassle me about it. For the support of a fiance, parents and friends, who genuinely care about how my condition is. For a fantastic diabetes team who made it possible for me to join the pump club. But also I realise now for an employer who doesn't add to my self-flagellation every time it happens. For an employer who genuinely seems concerned that work shouldn't affect my diabetes. And for an employer who doesn't add to the guilt I already feel.

Maybe in time I can learn that my guilt is unfounded and that there is nothing to feel guilty about.

Perhaps in time I will taste my own medicine.


  1. Really can relate to what you are saying in this post, especially about the sugars running in the high 20's. It makes you feel awful. And I know that feeling of guilt too when you have no choice but to stay off work. I tend to get lots of colds and luckily, like you, my employer i really understanding.

  2. Very true. It's good to hear that someone else has an understanding employer. Makes all the difference x