Growing Up with Diabetes: Starting a Job

Posted by shannon on Thu, 04/18/2013 - 12:05 in

Getting your first part-time job is a scary, exciting and necessary milestone in becoming an adult. Telling your manager or your boss that you have diabetes unfortunately is included in the scary part. Of course you don’t want someone to not hire you because they don’t think you’re capable of doing the job. So there is a big decision that individually we have to make: do we or do we not inform our bosses? I’ve been told you should, because something medically can happen to you while you’re working.  Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way.

Telling My Boss About My Diabetes

For my very first part-time job I worked at a golf course in the pro shop. I’d check people in when they came for their appointments and tee times, I’d answer the telephone and schedule tee times, and I’d keep the shop looking neat. It was a fairly straight-forward, secretary-like job. I told my boss that I have type 1 diabetes when I started working close shifts on my own. While I was nervous that my boss would get upset or pull me off the schedule for those shifts, she didn’t. She also really understood when I’d tell her I needed to take my break early or that I had to get juice from the fridge in the back because my blood glucose levels were low. Those were rare moments, but when they happened I felt comfortable telling her.

My Experience Not Telling a Boss about My Diabetes

When I picked up a second part-time job as a waitress and bartender I ended up not sharing with my manager that I have diabetes – and I regret that I didn’t tell him. I was nervous about telling him for various shallow reasons; he barely spoke English and I really wanted this job because the tips along with the experience I was getting were great.

I distinctly remember the first time my blood glucose was low while I was on the job. It was a hectic and busy Friday night where I waited on table after table without any type of break. I could feel my blood glucose levels dropping as my legs felt like Jell-O, I was getting dizzy and I was starting to forget simple things like people’s drink orders. I felt trapped. I couldn’t stop working because it was packed but I needed to raise my blood glucose quick. I drank a soda and just listened to a stern talk from my manager about how I needed to be more on top of my patrons’ orders. Even after that incident I didn’t tell him I have diabetes and finished the rest of the summer season without any other episodes.

I regret not informing my boss about my diabetes, because something much worse could have happened. I could have passed out or gone into diabetic shock and he wouldn’t have known what was happening. I really could have hurt myself. I’ve made the decision that I was right the first time around by being honest with my employer that I have diabetes. And sometimes needing to take extra time on a break or needing to drink a soda or juice on the job is more beneficial for everyone in the end.