Are we responsible for our words and actions when low

I have had a recent argument with my boss and I yelled profanities at him. (Not a wise thing to do) I have uploaded my pump and sensor readings to discover my BG was extremely low ( 40’s) I then packed my things up and left the office. I have been “placed on suspension” for 2 weeks. Am I correct in saying that when our BG’s are low we are not responsible for our verbal or physical actions? (to a certain degree) This is the first time this has ever happened to me in such severity. I feel that my boss is discriminating against me. Should I get a letter from my endocrinologist stating this ? ? What to do ? I am naturally a defensive person having been taught at an early age that diabetes was a “defect” and should be “hidden” from everyone. A psych consult maybe would help? Any ideas out there? BTW I have had diabetes for 55 years and still work a 10 day shift.!!

Sheila, I have had diabetes for 41 years. I had an incident at my work place ( public school) this spring:Every one I work with knows that I am insulin-dpendent diabetic, I do not hide it and I wear a pump… On that day, I was in the low forties, scurrrying toward the nurses office for help. Anyway, the hastily discarded lancet (from the hypo brain fuzz )ended up on my work-space, instead of my personal sharps container, and a co-worker was impaled the next day. I had to write up a letter detiailing how I would deal with testing from here on out, go see human relations, We both had to take blood tests to rule out hepatititis and HIV ( both of us were, of course, negative). I realize that I was responsible for my actions, even if low, and though no one suffered any future negative ramifications, my document that discussed how we would deal with future low-blood sugar issues and testing is in my personnel file. However, a positive result of this incident is that the legal gurus from my school district are now looking at establishing a formal procedure to deal with employees who have chronic illnesses; so that they have some kind of case-by case standard to go by that will neither violate the Americans with Disabilities Act ( ADA), nor put our school district in a compomising legal position in regards to blood-born pathogens and the like.It had been established for students with type one diaabtes, and sharps containers were provided for them, but this was not widely available for employees, unless they asked about it… I was not punished nor put on any type of suspension for this incident.
Please get over the defensive stance about hiding diabetes; If you learned it from childhood, it is time to UNLEARN IT. You have nothing to be ashamed of from having diabetes and you are NOT DEFECTIVE. GOD DOES NOT MAKE JUNK. Maybe if your supervisors or co-workers had been made more aware of diabetes, its management ,and symptoms of hypogylcemia, they would be more understanding.

Let’s talk. We are here at TUdiabetes to help.

God bless,

i don’t think we should be when we are low or high. people should understand.

You are responsible like a drunk. You are responsible even though you have no control. I would write a letter of apology to your boss, typed and mailed not email. In this letter I would explain exactly what had happened and that you were not in control of your faculties at the moment. As part of this letter I would ask him to be aware that this is not part of your personality and if anything remotely like this ever happens again to immediately feed you sugar or have someone that can difuse the situation feed you sugar. Of course if this is part of your personality then it is harder.

You want him to understand that you did not mean anything you said or that it was taken to extremes because of the sugar and not an underlying dislike for the job, him, or the project you are working on. A letter from an Endo is not a bad idea. It shows you take your “mistake” seriously.

Tell your boss that good control of diabetes means that we try to keep our sugars low and they can slip below the “safe zone” far too easily. You can even tell or remind him this is why you wear a cgm which unforunately you did not hear the alarms for or it did not alarm for unknown reasons. This shows you know there is a problem and you are doing everything you can to correct or adjust for it. It isn’t a bad idea to have the letter sent certified mail so you know he got it. You want this to be part of your permanent record just like the suspension will be.

He is not discriminating against you. Just setting an example. He can not have employees swearing at him. Sets a bad example, maybe needed example but bad from his perspective.

Good Luck!

You are in my prayers

Thanks so much for the advice. I will certainly follow what you suggest. I just have one question - surely a drunk is responsible because they “choose” to pour the liquor down their throats. A diabetic does not intentionally have low BG’s - its nothing we “choose” to do. Yes, its important to keep our BG’s low and yes we do get hypo-unawareness, which after 55 years I certainly do have that. I have driven - unconscious - fortunately with no consequences - I had a seizure for the first time in my whole 58 years of life. It would be awfully easy to carry on as I did for many years, in denial, and probably walked around with a BG of 700 all the time. That would be so much easier.

Thank you so much for the advice. Yes I agree, educating my boss more about diabetes would be very helpful but unfortunately I have to try and catch a few words with him while he is answering the phone, playing with his crack-berry, reading his e-mails and his cell phone is ringing…!!! all at once. Certainly I will do my best to have a few moments with him. Maybe a good look at the Americans with Disabilities Act would help. I work for a small company - only 5 full-time people and my boss always states "that the rules don’t apply to him because he is under 10 employees "!!
Yes, I will certainly make sure everything is documented and in my file - I am hoping that he does not terminate me permantly, although that would be discrimination ? right ? Yes, it is unfortunate that years ago (1950-60-70’s) we were taught that it was a major defect in us and we had to hide it. I will certainly try and educate my fello workers.

It doesn’t matter much if we’re responsible for what we do when we’re low, we still have to bear the consequences of it. An equally important question is whether we’re responsible for going low in the first place. Granted we don’t have complete control but even a person with hypo-unawareness should be considerate enough to check their BG before doing something that might hurt someone else, like operate a car or other heavy machinery. That doesn’t apply to your situation, i know, I’m just remarking on the general proposition.

I thought of the analogy to a drinker, too, but on further reflection I don’t think it’s appropriate. The drunk chooses to drink, or chose to start drinking. We didn’t choose to be insulin dependent.

On the other hand, it is asking a lot of other people to be understanding if we’re low and acting inappropriately or even dangerously. There’s only so much people can put up with or should be required to put up with. If someone had a disease that kept them from doing their job, that made them excessively absent, that disrupted the workplace, it’s not discrimination to take the job away from them. For instance, you wouldn’t let a person with Tourette’s Syndrome keep their job as a sales clerk.

Your outburst at your boss may have been a one off thing. I hope he’s patient and understanding. If he knows you and you’re otherwise a good employee he’s hopefully smart enough to let it go with an apology and explanation. But that doesn’t mean he has to continually understand or put up with it again and again. In the end it’s his choice, but there’s no law that says he has to accommodate an employee who yells profanities at him.

I think the best course is full disclosure and an apology and a promise that you’ll do everything in your power to prevent it from happening again. Perhaps work out a ‘plan of action’ for the times you are going low, like a 15 minute time out to get back into range.

Best of luck,


Well yes and no, I had to provide detailed info for a health insurance tribunal when I was unwell due to diabetes and I was forced out of my job.
My solicitor argued the point that low BG causes impairment of judgement and an altered state of mind which can be amongst other things irrationally aggressive, overly emotional or even totally unresponsive, so whilst in a normal state you may have thought it, but would not have said it, but because your judgement became impaired due to your BG, you were unable to assess that your actions were unreasonable behaviour.
I would try to explain, that whilst you know that it was unacceptable and that you are sorry, it wasn’t ‘you’ per se it was the low blood sugar and perhaps try to work out some kind of action plan.

Yes, I am aware of that - but then if you are pulled over for driving “irrationally”, but not caused and accident, you can be let go without a ticket because of a “low”. Obviously you need time to correct your low before you continue to drive even with the help from the police with glucose. That is why they are trained to recognise drunk behaviour may be mis-diagnosed as a low if you are insulin-dependent. I have the CGM and always check beofre I get in the car to drive. Before I had the CGM I used to nearly always test …but you may have a 45 minute drive and when you tested you were 100 or so, and in 45 minutes you could be seriously low. The CGM lets you know where your BG is going - that is why the technology is so great. ? What did we do before we had meters and testing. We used to drive ?

We’re always legally responsible for the consequences of our actions, low BG or not. The only condition that provides an excuse is insanity, and that’s nearly impossible to prove. (Unless you’re Dan White and ate too many twinkies - but that’s the high blood sugar defense, different animal.)

When the police let you off with a warning, it’s within their discretion and will only occur if you haven’t hurt anyone. There are no consequences to face. You’re not getting off with a warning if there’s been an accident.

In a civil case, like an employment case, or even in a criminal case, you can use your low BG to explain your actions, but it doesn’t excuse them. They still occurred. In a civil matter the people involved might be able to work out an accommodation, but they don’t have to unless there’s a law that says they have to. In a criminal case your BG might explain your behavior to an extent to reduce the severity of the crime or the severity of the punishment. But it’s not going to excuse you, and it shouldn’t.

If you hit someone while driving your car it doesn’t matter if it’s because you had low BG or were rummaging through the glove box or were distracted by a pretty girl on the side of the road. It’s your responsibility. If you curse out your boss it doesn’t matter if it’s because you have a low BG, if you’re just a jerk or if you have suddenly gone nuts - he doesn’t have to put up with it no matter how you explain it.

This is interesting, I thank you for forwarding it. Yes, it is very sad. I have never caused an accident or told the police I am diabetic as an excuse for a speeding ticket. I have always taken my punishment. Just because a person takes a higher dose of insulin more than another person, that certainly does not class “insulin overdose”. Once again we go back to “overdose” usually implies you intentionally gave yourself too much insulin. Yes, if you intentionally cause an accident, you are liable. People don’t usually try and cause an accident. Also I think if you have many driving incidents of being pulled over and used the diabetes as an excuse, certainly your driving privilages should be suspended, looked into or revoked. If you have epilepsy you have to be seizure free for several years and a doctors note to provide evidence that you are not going to have a seizure while driving. Are all insulin dependent people going to be restricted from driving? I also feel that when people reach a certain age they should be mandated to take another driver’s examination, medical examination, course, whatever.

I think you need someone to mediate your case and represent you to your employer. I think you might check this out with an employment lawyer. Anything you say in person or put on the website can be used against you by your employer. You might get “food for thought” on here, and good advice, but take it with a grain of salt. I don’t know that anyone on here has a law degree or is licensed to practice law, (not even me, although I have attended advocacy training classes). If you were in a state similar to a “Black Out” or “sleep walking”, I think the issue would be handled differently by those involved. I have been low as a type 2 diabetic and spoke jibberish, and one time I was just saying curse words. This is why I don’t like to take glipizide. Should I be put in a psych ward, b/c my BS was low, NO. My friend’s father after his heart attack was in the hospital and drugged up by the doctors and put in a psychotic state should he be responsible for his actions, if it is the doctors choice, NO, later he had no memory of the events that took place. My friend went hiking with a fellow teacher, he is not diabetic, but had heat stroke, he started talking jibberish and became aggressive when his colleage tried to get him to drink water. Should he be held responsible? NO. He was in a “Blackout” and remembered nothing later.

tru nuf. It wasn’t the best example, but I was just teasing the northern Californians. :slight_smile:

I think that explaining to your boss that this behavior was not normal for you and was related to a low blood sugar may help him be more understanding. BUT I think that you should also say that you know that this does not excuse this type of behavior, but just reassure him that you will do your best to avoid lows at work (checking more often?) so that something like this won’t happen again.

On a different note, does your CGM not alarm you when you are low? You said that you could see the low later. I thought that one of the advantages of CGM was that it tells you about the low right away, if it detects it.

ADA applies to all employers! Some OSHA and IRS rulings do not but ADA applies to all. I have ran into the same attitude with previous employers. THey are confused about which laws apply and which don’t. I have had employers break more laws than they obeyed.

We are as responsible as drunks because we have the need, ability and duty to control our BG. Now if anyone who says this ever had the disease they would realize how little we actually control. But the reality is that we are expected to do whatever it takes to control our disease. This is part of the blame problem, blaming us for having the disease, lack of BG control, etc… People are told that diabetes is a controlable disease from 7th grade health on. They then understand that if you have a hyper/hypo it is your fault. They think this right up until they are diagnosed, then the story changes quickly.

I have run into both extremes, those who think we have no control and those who think we can control anything. Both are equally annoying and dangerous(politically, educationaly). If someone tells enough people that we can control nothing they will take away our right to drive etc… If someone tells enough people that we can control everything they will punish us when we make a mistake, hypo/hyper, etc… There are few people that fall in the middle until they have someone around them with the disease.

Yes my CGM does alarm me most of the time…this time it didn’t. Like the time I had a seizure - it showed on my computer print out that it was alarming me but I was too far into the low. I have it on vibrate as well as alarm chimes and it wasn’t until I started seizing that it woke my husband up (shaking the bed). The CGM does not always catch all the lows and highs. Also did you know that if you cruise along at 400 for any length of time and you suddenly drop to 200 you can get the symptoms of being low…shaking, sweating, confusion, and if you didn’t have the GCM to show you HOW rapidly you are falling you would test and see 200 and think your body was going nuts on you. So, that is a true time you have to “sit it out” and not treat the symptoms you are having. I can watch my BG drop SO rapidly in fifteen minutes it is scarey.
For having D for 55 years I pretty much know what my body is doing - but every now and again it just catches me off guard. I think the real issue here is that we have to educate people around us more about our condition. I have worked for the same guy for nearly ten years and I am hoping I have not done any irretrievable damage.
I thank you all for your support and interesting comments.
I really enjoy this web site. I have NEVER met another type 1 person (veteran) like me, and I still am learning more about Type 1

Yes I can absolutely relate to that. With the CGM you can see the numbers crashing…remember the CGM is measuring interstital fluid in your cells and not blood, so the CGM is a good 15 behind. You can also see the little arrows pointing down and you can see the graph line going down. I have been known to drop at least 100 in a few minutes…It absolutely feels like a roller-coaster…its HORRIBLE. I know exactly how you feel…I will never get used to it…never. Yes, the pump is great…but even then with all this wonderful technology it can still throw you for a looop. !!! I cannot tell you how many Glucagon shots I have gone through. My husband had to ask the cops to hold me down when I was seizing to give me the shot !! They are trying to put oxygen on me…like that would help !!! ha…when was the last time you saw sugar in oxygen !!! Now they are another group that should be educated !!

I don’t believe that him firing you would be discrimination. I may be harsh and unfair, but not illegal and discriminatory.

If you’re looking to get re-hired (or taken off of suspension) I would not mention the discrimination piece to him. :slight_smile: