My Disease Was Not The Problem

Nate Olson

June 17, 2019

Whenever someone finds out that I have diabetes, their reaction is always, “Oh my god I am so sorry that you have to deal with that”. I never thought about it in a negative light and I always tried to rationalize it in my mind that it wasn’t that bad. As I have grown older and my disease has gotten progressively worse, I now look at it with a different perspective. One of the turning points in my mindset was going into the workforce and dealing with diabetes at the same time.

I have never been ashamed of my disease, but I would never be the first one to bring it up in conversation. I have had Type 1 Diabetes since the age of seventeen, and looking back at it now, I realize how big of an effect this disease has had on my life. In the workforce specifically, my diabetes has a huge effect on how I get through the day. When you really take the time to think about it, no one besides a diabetic has to worry about their blood sugar going low and potentially fainting during an important meeting, a sales call, or on the drive to work. These are the thoughts I have every single day of my life.

Besides this constant fear in my mind of physical damage, diabetes has also had an effect on my self esteem at work. In the beginning, I was always worried about people seeing me test my sugar or give myself insulin, and in some instances tried to be “tough” and not show anyone my flaw by neglecting my disease. God forbid I decide to ignore testing my sugar for personal pride reasons at work and go into a meeting and faint. I believe this mindset was a product of my environment at my past job, where I was ridiculed and reprimanded for spending too much time away from my desk. My managers knew I had diabetes, but they failed to realize the commitment involved in managing it.

I did not want to use my disease as an excuse

for being away from my desk, so I took the consequences and dealt with them. After dealing with this for about four months I realized that my disease was not the problem, it was the people I worked for. There is absolutely no scenario in which I should feel ashamed of my disease or hide it from people in my life. It was only after joining my current company that I realized my disease is not something to be ashamed of or hide from anyone.

The company I am at today has been more than understanding and welcoming of my disease. I no longer worry about doing the things necessary to manage my diabetes while at work. I cannot thank my new coworkers and managers enough for helping me realize that my disease will always come first in my life. Reflecting on my past employer, I’ve come to see that people who make you feel uncomfortable in your own skin should not be the ones controlling how you see yourself and the disease you have. At this new company where I am encouraged to make sure my sugar is okay when I am feeling off and reminded that my diabetes doesn’t define me, I don’t have any fears about my job security or what the future holds. With this new mindset about my disease in the workplace, it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can breathe again. I know in my heart that my disease will not be a roadblock in my career but something that I can carry with me and use to keep striving for greatness and more and more success.

I want to help anyone out there who is worried about their employers or anyone in their life judging them for their chronic disease. Don’t let other people’s judgements get to you. If they don’t accept who you are and can’t see you for you then don’t be associated with them. My diabetes is and will always be a part of who I am, but it will not define me.

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My Disease Was Not The Problem

Whenever someone finds out that I have diabetes, their reaction is always, “Oh my god I am so sorry that you have to deal with that”. I never thought about it in a negative light and I always tried to rationalize it in my mind that it wasn’t that bad. As I have grown older and my disease has gotten progressively worse, I now look at it with a different perspective. One of the turning points in my mindset was going into the workforce and dealing with diabetes at the same time.

I have never been ashamed of my disease, but I would never be the first one to bring it up in conversation. I have had Type 1 Diabetes since the age of seventeen, and looking back at it now, I realize how big of an effect this disease has had on my life. In the workforce specifically, my diabetes has a huge effect on how I get through the day. When you really take the time to think about it, no one besides a diabetic has to worry about their blood sugar going low and potentially fainting during an important meeting, a sales call, or on the drive to work. These are the thoughts I have every single day of my life.

Besides this constant fear in my mind of physical damage, diabetes has also had an effect on my self esteem at work. In the beginning, I was always worried about people seeing me test my sugar or give myself insulin, and in some instances tried to be “tough” and not show anyone my flaw by neglecting my disease. God forbid I decide to ignore testing my sugar for personal pride reasons at work and go into a meeting and faint. I believe this mindset was a product of my environment at my past job, where I was ridiculed and reprimanded for spending too much time away from my desk. My managers knew I had diabetes, but they failed to realize the commitment involved in managing it.

I did not want to use my disease as an excuse

for being away from my desk, so I took the consequences and dealt with them. After dealing with this for about four months I realized that my disease was not the problem, it was the people I worked for. There is absolutely no scenario in which I should feel ashamed of my disease or hide it from people in my life. It was only after joining my current company that I realized my disease is not something to be ashamed of or hide from anyone.

The company I am at today has been more than understanding and welcoming of my disease. I no longer worry about doing the things necessary to manage my diabetes while at work. I cannot thank my new coworkers and managers enough for helping me realize that my disease will always come first in my life. Reflecting on my past employer, I’ve come to see that people who make you feel uncomfortable in your own skin should not be the ones controlling how you see yourself and the disease you have. At this new company where I am encouraged to make sure my sugar is okay when I am feeling off and reminded that my diabetes doesn’t define me, I don’t have any fears about my job security or what the future holds. With this new mindset about my disease in the workplace, it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can breathe again. I know in my heart that my disease will not be a roadblock in my career but something that I can carry with me and use to keep striving for greatness and more and more success.

I want to help anyone out there who is worried about their employers or anyone in their life judging them for their chronic disease. Don’t let other people’s judgements get to you. If they don’t accept who you are and can’t see you for you then don’t be associated with them. My diabetes is and will always be a part of who I am, but it will not define me.

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