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Teamwork helps manage Type 1 Diabetes at work

Edited: 17.04.2024

Yong Xuan Ooi

HelloType1 Coordinator Malaysia, A4D

1. Your determination can help you with diabetes and work

Your determination is what will help you as you try managing diabetes at work. Work already takes a lot of effort and drive, but you also need to be careful with your Type 1 Diabetes condition as you go along. Therefore, the path you will take will be full of challenges and opportunities, and one thing that will help you along the way is a network of teammates who can support you. This article aims to guide you how to be a better professional and figure out how to take charge of both diabetes and work. It will focus on how important it is for your teammates to understand and how they can support you through this challenging time.

Dive in and discover the steps you would need to take on the challenges ahead so you can thrive in your career.

2. The importance of your teammates

It can make a huge difference if your teammates around you know about your Type 1 Diabetes, what it needs, and the risks that come with it. Having people around you that you can rely on can greatly help you with managing diabetes at work. Showing your teammates where to access emergency tools like a hypoglycaemia kit (like juice, glucose tablets) and a hyperglycaemia kit (like insulin) and teaching them how to check your blood glucose level will make the workplace safer.

Building a safe environment where they understand how to respond to your conditions, like hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia symptoms, will help them be ready for emergency situations. Bringing your diabetes emergency kit with pre-packed sugary drinks, blood glucose test kits, and other supplies is the first step that will let your teammates help you when you need it. You can also tell them more information and things they might not know about what's happening to you.

3. Preparation, opening doors to a supportive atmosphere

Of course, there can be hiccups throughout the work day so it is important you are prepared. Keep a stash of sweets or drinks on your desk or the common area for any unexpected episodes of low blood glucose level. One thing to remember about managing diabetes at work is if you have long meetings coming up, you might want to check your blood glucose level to see if you need to bring a snack. Or take insulin as recommended by your healthcare team.

Let your teammates know about all of these: where your sweets are stored, what to do in emergencies, and your potential need to eat during long meetings. Your trusted teammates will there there to help you. They will know what to do, like when to tell you to double check your blood glucose level or ask if you need a snack.

4. Don’t forget your rights

Remember to think about your rights at work and what you can ask for. Don't feel bad about it. As someone living with Type 1 Diabetes, you may have certain needs that you must meet every day. This may be to do with your dietary requirements, restroom breaks, or insulin administration. If your workplace offers canteen food, there may be certain foods you want to avoid and you can let your company know about this as your diet is important when it comes to managing diabetes at work. Restroom breaks are also important for people with Type 1 Diabetes and talking to your teammates or boss about this will help foster their understanding of your needs.

Finally, there's nothing wrong with giving yourself insulin at work. If others are bullying or shaming you, do tell your superior or the human resources staff about it. This may not be easy in practice and educating them or sharing Type 1 Diabetes related materials may be a good step forward. Your teammates will probably know and understand how important insulin injections are for managing Type 1 Diabetes if you have helped encourage open communication at work. This is why it's so important to have open conversations, take the initiative, and make reasonable requests.

5. The wind beneath your wings

The right work environment will allow you to flourish and will help you with managing diabetes at work. When your colleagues make you feel valuable and strong, it will help you grow in every way. With teammates who understand you and encourage you along your journey, you may increase your self-confidence and sense of belonging at work. Remember that everyone needs to do their part to make the workplace a good place to be yourself and do well.

You can help make the workplace more caring by sharing your story, giving your teammates useful information about your conditions, and showing them how strong you are on top of living with Type 1 Diabetes. Let them be the wind beneath your wings that will help you reach your goals while you deal with Type 1 Diabetes. It may be hard, but it's a lifelong experience that we can learn a lot more from.

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