Diabetes 9 to 5: Tips to Help You Manage Your Diabetes at Work
Controlling symptoms is critical to controlling your diabetes. Here's how experts say you can do the job while on the job.
Diabetes on the Job: Testing Sugar Levels and Taking Insulin continued...
It may seem that using insulin on the job would be an even more difficult task. But Randall J. Urban, MD, director of the Stark Diabetes Center at the University of Texas Medical Branch, says it's not true. "The new insulin pens don't need refrigeration," Urban says. "And they can be used pretty much anywhere, very discreetly. You just need to take some time to practice."
What can also help, he says, is the new long-acting insulin. Long-acting insulin can minimize the number of injections you need over the course of a day. "This has been a fantastic advance for diabetes patients," he says. "So if you're currently not using a long acting insulin you should speak to your doctor about whether it's right for you. It can make managing diabetes in the workplace much, much easier."
If you must refrigerate your insulin and either don't have access to a refrigerator or don't want co-workers to know, products like the IceyBag can help keep your medicine cold throughout an entire day. It features a small, refreezable insert that fits in the bottom of a cooler bag, and it will stay cold for up to eight hours.
Diabetes on the Job: To tell or Not to Tell
One of the biggest work issues faced by people with diabetes is whether or not to tell the boss, or even co-workers, about their disease. Either way, it's important to know that the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits potential employers from asking if you have type 1 diabetes or asking questions concerning insulin use or other prescription drugs.
Once you have the job, however, the decision is yours as to whether or not to keep it personal or let others know. That said, experts believe it is important that at least one person in your workplace know of your condition, particularly if you are using insulin. That person could be a co-worker, nurse, or supervisor.
"You should tell someone who is physically near you at work that you have diabetes," says Strumph, "particularly if you take insulin. Give them a description of what happens when blood sugars drop too low. And tell them the basic emergency treatment for this."
Moreover, he says, always have glucagon with you -- either in your desk or on you. And make certain that someone at work knows how to give it to you in the event of an emergency. Glucagon is an injectable medicine that can raise blood sugar in an emergency.
Synder agrees. "You have to treat low blood sugar swiftly. If you teach your co-workers about that, it can not only save your life in an emergency, but also help them to better understand your behavior if and when your sugar goes low." Synder tells WebMD that if your sugar goes low, you can become cranky or even prone to emotional outbursts.