Working with Diabetes & the Issues Faced

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]As some of you may know I am a diabetic (type 1). I have been working in OLC for since 2010 in a number of different roles from teaching (maths) to running admin teams.

I have been diabetic for over 25 years and, touch wood, have had no complications; this does not mean it has always been easy in the workplace. Whilst growing up me and my brother were both diabetic, so I have always been open about the fact that I was diabetic, and my peers knew what to look out for in regards to low blood sugars (hypos) and high blood sugars. I was lucky to always have someone to talk through my diabetes with. This also meant that I have tried to be open about having diabetes, which has resulted in glucose tablets being a part of the medical boxes at OLC’s campuses.

Diabetes UK (2015) defines a “hypo” (hypoglycaemia or low blood glucose) happening when your blood glucose level drops too low. In people with diabetes, the balance of insulin, food and physical activity sometimes isn’t right and blood glucose levels drop too low. That’s when you start feeling “wobbly.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”8313″ img_size=”large”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator color=”custom” border_width=”5″ accent_color=”#8cba3e”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When I was first employed, the first hypo I had caused a few issues. Even though I was open about it, in reality the company and employees did not exactly know what this meant. After this the company ran a training day with a health and safety trainer about diabetes and the issues it could cause, which improved the knowledge and skills of the employees around me, when identifying quirks in my behaviour that happen when I am hypoing. Taking feedback from there meant I have an introduction to students about diabetes, which is built into my sessions with activities, because when speaking I am often the second or third to notice.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator color=”custom” border_width=”5″ accent_color=”#8cba3e”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”8226″ img_size=”large”][vc_column_text]Jonathan Saunders (third from the right) at the E3 North West Business Awards Nominations[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]For myself the biggest issue with diabetes and work are emotional feelings, as they play a large role on my blood glucose. This ranges from day to day regardless of preparation and previous experience, for example, when teaching a maths class, my glucose can rise or fall depending on how the students react to the lessons. If they understand the information and work well I tend to be excited and pleased for the student, which results in me hypoing and then there is a loss in clarity in my teaching and either become confused and dazed, or very sarcastic. Definitely is not a good teaching technique! This is a common theme for myself; whenever I am excited I tend to hypo. This can be from things such as buying a new bicycle (I spent 6 hours hypoing with reduced base line insulin (a reduction in long acting insulin) and regular intake of glucose) or seeing my family after time away from them (I get passed jelly babies and my blood glucose machine on arrival now!)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]As a person I tend to keep my diabetes issues to myself but OLC have been very supportive in allowing me to gain help and support, realising that my productivity and performance improves with better glucose control. I attended the DAFNE course earlier this year which was interesting with some insight in to a couple of different techniques (but generally reinforcement of points I was aware of) and I would like to thank Salford Royal Hospital diabetes team for helping me get back to living with diabetes rather than coping with diabetes.

Trying to explain issues that arise from type 1 diabetes is difficult especially from the shifting dynamics of hypo symptoms, or even for myself, why they happen with different activities (teaching, marking and admin). Then you have the fun of trying to balance your blood sugars with surprise exercise such as moving tables, hoovering or even reorganising the library, small jobs that take up energy that have not been accounted for either at previous meal time or once you’ve started, as it is only a quick little job.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator color=”custom” border_width=”5″ accent_color=”#8cba3e”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]On the other hand if the students do not understand the subject matter and I am having to explain the theories and subjects time and time again, I become stressed, which makes my blood sugars go very high. High sugars cause myself to be very tired and lethargic meaning that I am generally not very enthusiastic about work and my productivity takes a hit, as well as motivation to encourage the students or other members of staff inside the organisation.

Being stressed can come from a number of things and affect me in different situations, whether this is playing football and being involved in a penalty shootout, and knowing that my blood sugar levels are rising as I step up to kick, or when playing computer games and not being able to complete a level, despite knowing what to do, these result in a rise in my blood glucose and having to need more insulin.

Inside the workplace this can be very counterproductive as stress generally releases adrenaline, allowing people to be able to work quicker, which is useful for tight deadlines. This means I have to plan my work a little more carefully than some other colleagues. I suppose this should make me grateful that I am so incentivised to reduce stress before it arrives.

With diabetes inside the work place, it is a balancing act and experimental due to the fact that not only does my job role change and develop, so does my diabetes and methods to manage and monitor too. With any long term health conditions, support networks are important and I am lucky enough to be able to include my workplace. I realise I am in a lucky position to be able to have the support in place inside the workplace and it has helped to have input from colleagues and students. Sharing information is important for businesses to expand and develop and also for diabetics to share information about themselves in order to make management easier.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator color=”custom” border_width=”5″ accent_color=”#8cba3e”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”7814″ img_size=”large”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Jonathan Saunders  is the Engineering Programme Manager and Tutor at OLC. When teaching however, he actively uses OLC’s Twitter to help promote our work and works closely with Lisa Rees to network and meet with other organisations.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]