Today Dear Abby gave some clueless advice about dealing with a diabetic at work. It’s too bad she didn’t take advantage of her big platform to hit the mark better.
Diabetes sucks. Most people would rather sacrifice a thumb than have to do all the crap associated with staying alive. Hec, I’d give up sex to be able to eat a whole stack of fluffy pancakes, bananas, chocolate chips, cherries, and mounds of whipped cream in a lake of warm maple syrup without a blip in my blood sugar levels. I assure you, I am NOT joking.
Injecting insulin means trying to keep your blood sugar as low as you can while coasting right along the edge of a steep cliff. Falling off that cliff could mean your life. This is moment to moment.
A type 2 not on insulin does not have that immediate cliff drop. They are about 5 feet away from the edge, but it’s still there. Testing sugar is necessary to keep your fingers, toes, feet, legs, fingers, functional kidneys, and more. Those are really nice things to keep!
In our minds we are in this action-packed adventure beating the odds and dodging bullets. The landscape is speeding by. The gorge is deep with rushing, thundering, water. Then a shoulder tap: “Yuck, can’t you do that in the bathroom?”
The last thing a diabetic needs is someone with a bullhorn behind them complaining they don’t want to see the stuff the diabetic doesn’t even want to do.
So we diabetics have to do–stuff. The stuff sucks. It’s inconvenient. It can hurt. It’s complicated. It’s expensive. It has a big learning curve. So, a lot of people just don’t do the stuff. I advise readers to have many convenient spots ready to go for monitoring to make this stuff easier. Even Bret Michaels recently checked his blood sugar on-air during a talk show. Sometimes you just gotta do it.
Dear Abby was written to by “Squeamish” whose close-proximity co-worker checks his his blood sugar and injects insulin at his desk. To be honest, Squeamish didn’t seem rude to me, they were just asking if it would be silly to ask to change desks. In my opinion, no, not silly if it makes you queasy to see blood.
(Amusingly, I had to click through a full-screen, multimedia ad for some diabetes product before I could see the article. So Dear Abby is benefiting from people with diabetes while simultaneously sending a message that does not serve them well.)
The response from Dear Abby was brief and included: “…discuss this with your supervisor ASAP.” She did mention that checking and injecting are things diabetics must attend to on a daily basis, but it came off like a cover-your-ass blurb. Like she was avoiding an army of diabetics storming her house with torches and needles and lancets. …Maybe diabetics who purposely let their blood sugar drop to ensure they are extra-extra grumpy.
It is the “ASAP” I had a problem with. There is a big difference between “It’s not silly to ask your supervisor to change desks” and “Discuss this with your supervisor ASAP.” Usually a response like that is reserved for reporting a crime or equivalent to “Molly, you in danger girl.” That little “ASAP” coming from the big Dear Abby bullhorn could potentially cause some problems for working diabetics. Even just one, even just that guy, is too many.
Dear Abby could have suggested asking the coworker to cover up or at least to give a heads up if Squeamish would have been cool with that. However, reporting to a supervisor ASAP makes me cringe at the possible outcomes.
First of all, let’s applaud this guy for faithfully monitoring and correcting his blood sugar levels. I’m sure when he started, he was squeamish about needles and blood too. I know I was. I know lots of diabetes who still are, but they gotta do what they gotta do.
I’m not sure if Dear Abby has ever been a peon in an office. It can be akin to working as a galley slave under a supervisor who got that job because they have he ability to put human needs secondary to the bottom line. Sometimes they are on a power high. Sometimes they like to send out new policies and memos and do it in a way that embarrasses people. It can be a train wreck. I think involving the supervisor should have been the last option.
Great supervisors are few. I’ve had supervisors who made great, dramatic, humiliating productions of responding to popcorn and tuna smell complaints. Once a co-worker was banned to the nether regions of the office over her choice of deodorant. This was after discussing the issue in front of everybody. My co-worker was shamed and horrified and eventually quit because her image was marred in the workplace.
I wish Dear Abby would have not only stressed how important it is to test and treat freely, but to make sure the utmost tact and respect would be given to the co-worker to make sure they did not introduce another complicating factor in an already complicated life of a person who is apparently trying.
Have you had to deal with something like this at work? Would you have been offended if a co-worker shared they can’t take the sight of blood and asked if you could do it more discreetly?