This past week, Alex O'Meara over at A Sweet Life wrote a piece on disclosing your diabetes (You can read it here if you're interested). Alex talks about the different reactions we can get from people when we disclose our diabetes, as well as the struggles we face when deciding whether or not to disclose to certain people.
Seeing as diabetes is fairly new to me, this is something that I still struggle with. And it's something that I'm not sure I will ever entirely be comfortable doing. By nature, I am someone that does not enjoy the spotlight. I'm an observer, and although I am outgoing, I tend to prefer to sit back and watch when I'm in a new or unfamiliar situation. So, with diabetes being new, this is basically what I did for the first bit anyway. In the very beginning, other than my family and boyfriend, I only told 3 of my closest friends. I knew that I would need a lot of support from these people and I was also comfortable telling them because I knew they would be supportive and non-judgmental. Other than that, I didn't really tell anyone. It didn't even truly concern me for the first couple weeks that my close co-workers didn't know. At this point, I was still struggling with the diagnosis, so I would sneak away to test my blood and to take my insulin. It wasn't really until a stern talking to by my boyfriend that I considered the fact that for safety reasons, all of the people I work with closely needed to know in case of an emergency.
Although I knew that he was 100% right, I was still having a very tough time with the idea of letting people that I didn't entirely trust in on something that I considered very personal. I had a lot of fears and my biggest was of being judged. Sadly, there are so many people that think that I did something to get diabetes. They think I got it from not exercising enough or from eating too much sugar. My second biggest fear was that someone would downplay the risk of diabetes and then I would feel stupid for telling them about it. My boyfriend and family's biggest concern was that people were aware of how to help me when I couldn't help myself. Which I totally agreed with, but I still kept going back to feeling like people would think that I was being a drama queen. That when I said, "I need to eat something" or "I need sugar", that it wouldn't be taken seriously and that it would look as though I have a weakness. I work in a fairly male dominate field where we are expected to have tough skin and be able to emotionally and physically handle alot of different situations. In my head, I felt that my diabetes would be viewed as a weakness and some people may think I couldn't do my job safely anymore.
Although the risk is there for me, I have learned new ways to ensure that I remain safe at work. The biggest thing was telling my close co-workers and I'm happy to say they were very understanding. I also carry glucose on me as I go about my day because there can be times where I can be tied up with a situation and can't leave to grab something to eat. I have also started taking my insulin half way through my meals in case I get called away for something.
In Alex's article, he talks about the 80-10-10 rule. Basically, the rule is that 80% of people you meet don't feel one way or another about you; 10% of them will like you no matter what and 10% will dislike you no matter what. I think this is a pretty neat rule. And although it's not scientific, I think it's probably pretty close to accurate. So, in the end, I decided that I'm not going to go out of my way to tell people about my diabetes but I'm no longer hiding it. I test and inject whenever and wherever, and am always happy to answer any one's questions about diabetes. I also now wear a medic-alert bracelet in case I'm around people that don't know that I have diabetes. I found that just wearing the bracelet opens up the communication lines because people in general are curious as to why I wear one.
Last week at work, I was pleasantly surprised by a co-worker who was super supportive when my blood sugar was tanking. I needed to call on them to quickly come and cover my post while I grabbed some orange juice and a quick bite to eat. I felt bad because I knew they were busy too but they told me to never hesitate to treat a low and that the job could always wait.
That made my day, and made me feel that much more understood!