How does having diabetes mix with your career?

I'm curious to know how having diabetes has influenced your career path? Or was it not considered at all? I realize that there are certain careers in which it would be unacceptable to have diabetes and commercial airline pilot. Are there others in a career like mine? I'm a radiographer at a level one trauma center in a fast paced environment. I'm out about my diabetes. And I feel supported mostly, only as long as my diabetes doesn't inconvenience anyone. I normally run my numbers high at work for fear of going low and this has worked for 6 years. I'm in the process making changes and would like to have tighter control. I have a fear of drawing negative attention. Are there folks out there that have made career changes/choices simply due to their diagnosis?

Fourteen years ago I gave up all ideas for self-employment and chose a "steady job" with good benefits, entirely because at that time there was absolutely zero chance for me to get insurance while self-employed.

I don't really regret that decision, I sure enjoy my job now, but it wasn't a decision that I would've made otherwise.

And since making that change in direction, I've also chosen worksites/work hours where possible, so I don't have to drive to get to work or while at work. That's actually helped my control - when I have to drive I will tend to run my bg's higher to prevent any chance of hypo. There has been a single two-month-long stint where I had to drive every day for work, and the lack of exercise and keeping my bg's "safe" while driving resulted in the highest A1C I've ever had.

I don't think diabetes has affected my career at all. The fact that I've been visually impaired my entire life has, though—I went into the field of visual impairment, and I don't think I ever would have done that if things had been different. Maybe if I hadn't been visually impaired I would have gone into something related to diabetes or health care.

I am open about my diabetes, but my co-workers don't know all that much about it. In my job I have contact with the staff in my office but also many individuals who work throughout the province, and those more distant individuals don't necessarily know about my diabetes unless I have worked with them enough that they've seen me test.

Lately I've actually found that my allergies have affected my job far more than diabetes. You don't realize how much of work life centres around food until you can't eat any of it (not even a bite, or "safe" food that has been touching it). People generally don't notice me testing and bolusing, but they do notice that I bring my own food to everything and always ask about it.

My husband and I are self employed and have been for just about 20 yrs. I have had t2 diabetes for about 12 yrs. I generally work at home and he is out attending to customers. I do all the book work, computer stuff, phone calls etc and fill and ship orders. Having diabetes has not slowed me down or had any effect on what I do or how I do it.

I dont tell many people about my diabetes as I dont think it's any of their business since I do take care of myself and am not prone to lows or other problems. If the topic came up I'd probably say I have t2, it's not a secret, it's just nobody's business.

I stay mum about D at work, but now that I've gone on insulin a couple months ago I may become more open about it in the future, at least with my boss.

Thing is, I travel for 2 months of the year for work - I'll be travelling for a month again toward the end of this year - and that's the only thing that I think will be difficult. I may decide to take on a different role at some point, depending on how that goes, but I think it will be doable.

I stay quiet about it at work because I do feel that in a corporate office (at least mine) the further up the chain you go the more there is a bias in regard to being in shape and the perception of being in good health, ie, bias against anything that could be perceived as impeding your potential job performance. Simply put, for example, some people tend to think - at least subconsciously - that overweight people are going to be lazy employees, or at least less energetic, and that if they can't get their act together with their weight they probably won't be on top of things at work... so I feel like for me the combo of being overweight + D would be a career staller.

I'm T2 and overweight, and I've certainly felt the unspoken bias regarding my weight... I'm hesitant to add to it with D. I'm doing fine in my career (I'm about halfway through my working years and I'm a mid-level manager), but I do believe I'd have gone further by now if I'd been in shape over the years, and I'm fairly certain I've almost reached my career ceiling now until I get in better shape.

Maybe that's just my perception based on what I've experienced and seen, but it certainly seems to be a sad reality, at least in my world. And - just want to add - I work for a large organization that prides itself on diversity, inclusiveness, transparency, etc etc, but this seems to be the last acceptable frontier of quiet discrimination. Not blatantly, but it's there.

I do think that if I told people I'd be supported and it would be fine... but I think it would limit my options in climbing the ladder.

Jen - YES - people at my work are very nosy and observant about everything I do/don't eat! They're always telling each other about the latest fad diets they're on, cleanses, etc etc, and so it stands out that I don't participate in those conversations. Work events often centre around food and it becomes even more obvious there. Pain in the bum.

Well it doesn't affect me too much at work, though right now I'm just volunteering at a hospital. As long as I get my test/bathroom/snack break (takes like 15-20 minutes) I'm good to go. It does make me realize some of the crap some of the patients deal with because my usual unit where I volunteer almost always has diabetics on them and I can't tell you how much I wanted to help the lady with steroid diabetes use her glucometer and all but I couldn't because I am not a nurse. Whenever I have worked while having diabetes , I've worked in a hospital environment, both times unpaid for various things (first one was clinical second was volunteering) , but I always got my snack break and I've been told as an employee I'd get that as well. I run normally in the upper 70's to low 90's at all times before a meal and tend to maintain that and only go a little higher for bed time.

Dee, I am in the same situation as you and Jen in that I have food allergies so I am unable to participate in the social activities involving food (holiday socials, ice cream socials, etc.), and chronic illnesses RA and diabetes. As well, I work well with my vice-president who is aware of my RA but not my diabetes. Soon he will be retiring and I will have another boss, but I hope to have positioned myself within the organization by then. I have 20+ in the org. but only 4 yrs. in my current position.

I have worked my butt off to get to this point in my career (mid-management) and I have specifically let my VP know my intention of striving for senior management with at least 20 more years of work before retirement. Yet, as you climb the ladder your health becomes a focal point as Dee stated. Only a very few confidantes know about my RA and no one knows about my diabetes.

My major concern is as my job duties expand, I will be expected to attend even more external events, functions and activities including luncheons and dinners. I will need to be prepared to be discreet with my illnesses.

I am not ashamed of my illnesses and I'm very supportive of research in these areas; however, my organization is very gossipy and everyone talks about everyone's health, personal, and professional lives. I do not want to be the gossip or topic of the organization.

My career doesn't have much room for advancement. If it did, I too probably would've taken a different approach and chosen to be more discrete.

However, the environment is filled with ignorance and prejudices about diabetes. I've observed that people believe drama and complications from the disease are directly related to noncompliance. That type of attitude is hard to change.

For many years (40+)it did not really have an impact on career choice or performance. During that time I wasn't a very well controlled T1. However I just got my 5th straight quarterly A1c in the 6.0 to 6.5 range. Lately the job (consultant) has involved more road travel and erratic schedules. Since I have never figured out a satisfactory way to eat properly at a fast food joint, I am shifting to a full time consulting role at a single location.

So short answer is yes. It has now affected my career.

I am back in school after 24 years specifically so I can change the direction of my nursing career. I have always been a bedside nurse and have been open about my diabetes at work but also adamant that it doesn't interfere with my work either. So, I also run higher at work to prevent any issues. I have a specific pattern for work days and non works days. But, after many years of very long shifts and rotating schedules I am done. I want a Monday thru Friday job where I have a set schedule and a predictable routine so I can get the better control that I want.
Is your fear of drawing negative attention related to having lows that might come with tighter control? If yes is your answer, then I totally get it. I would never want to be a burden or feel like someone needs to take care of me or watch out for me at work.
You shouldn't have to choose between your job and your diabetes management. Once I started wearing a CGM I discovered that I really could survive working with lower numbers and less risk of experiencing lows at work.

I can't agree with you more. It is surprising that people in the medical field are so ignorant about diabetes.

I think this article is the worst case scenario in how people can react to illness, and using that illness against an applicant to discriminate. Even though this woman has a peanut allergy, I can see the same scene being played out for diabetes, RA, and other illnesses.

exactly! I don't want to be a burden. Moreover, I detect there is a zero tolerance for me being a burden. that's why I started this discussion. I started wondering if diabetic people naturally go to certain types of careers? and what are those? did I choose a career that is too fast paced? Then again, I think: "that's silly" having diabetes is ALWAYS AN INCONVENINCE! regardless of the lifestyle.

I have been type I since I was nine years old. I wanted to join the military right out of high school but wasn't allowed because of diabetes. Instead I have ended up in retail/customer service. Because I now have so many health conditions and a lot of pain, especially when physically active, I hate having to go to work. I am kind of glad that over the last several months I have been on near constant medical leave due to eye surgeries, because I just can't handle being at work and put in the pain my physical job brings on. I have been told by many people that I should look into permanent disability but have also been told most people with my conditions are turned down. So right now a career is the last thing on my mind and it's totally because of diabetes.

I think that's our society in general. I work in higher education and even though there are no medical programs on campus, everyone wants to be a doctor and provide medical advice to "cure" what ails you. Even if it is completely wrong advice. They also feel they have the right to ask or say anything to you.

Since my official D-diagnosis last August, I've lost a total of 43 lbs. I've had to endure alot of catty comments thrown my way, especially from support staff even though I'm the highest ranking administrator at this particular location. Because I'm a laid back administrator who worked her way up through the ranks, the support staff feel more comfortable around me. But that's a double edge sword because now they are wondering if something is wrong with me healthwise.

I've been keeping them at bay by saying that I have a lot on my plate--which is true, some additional strategic changes are being implemented by senior administration. Also, I'm finishing a second graduate degree so I do have a full plate. However, everyone knows I'm used to working at full throttle and I'm out with a few more doctor's appointments now.

No, they are like sharks or piranha and they smell blood figuratively and literally. And they will eventually figure it out, but I do not planning on sharing except on my terms.

I had to explain to a manager when I did not feel like climbing a ladder. She balked on me telling me I needed a Doctor's note and it was mandatory that I be able to climb a 15 foot ladder. Another manager witnessed and said "don't worry, go get a doctor's note". I got pulled in the top managers office "Why didn't you tell me about that when I hired you?" Me- "That I was diabetic?", Him- "No. That you could not climb a ladder." I told him "Because it is not continuous. If I feel dizzy because of glucose levels dropping then I do not feel safe climbing the ladder. If my levels feel ok, then I can climb the ladder. It is not all the time.". I got my doctor's note which describes some of my needs and symptoms of fluctuating glucose but she cannot say I can or cannot do something. Only I have to assess that for my safety. Only one person understood my condition and she told me to protect myself. I have in my note that I need to keep snacks on me so I keep Skittles in my pockets to nibble on if my levels start to drop. That is against regulations but I do have a doctor's note.

Oh, I must add too, working EMS with uncontrolled diabetes made me very fearful because my immunity would be down when running high.

It's pretty easy to manage when you're sitting at a desk in an office... so I appreciate that I have that. I think a more on-the-go career would have been more difficult for me... so kudos to you for managing it.

The only way it has even been a thought was when I was much younger. I thought back then (I am going on 42 yrs with T1) that a career or job in a hard labor manner would be almost impossible. That is why I decided at at early age to shut up and listen in school and get an education. I read some of the reply's and I am in disbelief. If I worked in any of those offices, I would have to find a new job. Everyone at my work knows and they respect and understand that. I have excused myself during a presentaion in a board meeting to either check or get a soda without so much as a blink of an eye from anyone.