Managing Diabetes on Summer Break: Summer Jobs

Posted by shannon on Thu, 08/15/2013 - 11:49 in

In part two of her “Managing Diabetes on Summer Break” series, Shannon discusses managing her diabetes in different work environments. 

Waitressing with Diabetes

Summer break, for most college students, is a time to make some money through part-time jobs to help pay for college and other expenses throughout the year. I waitress during the summer and honestly was feeling self-conscious about customers constantly asking me about my diabetes. I like to be personable while waitressing, but I don’t want customers feeling like they know too much about me either.

My first couple of weekends back home working I realized this was practically inevitable. People would cautiously ask me questions about diabetes, feeling bad or nervous as if they had gone too far with their curiosity. The relationship between me and customers would sometimes get…awkward. Instead of enjoying their experience at the restaurant or with their family and friends, there was this odd feeling between us. I hated this feeling and wanted it to change, but there wasn’t really much I could do about it.

I’ve never been ashamed about having diabetes, but working in the restaurant industry can be challenging at times with diabetes. When I started on the new Omnipod insulin pump, the smaller size was perfect and helped me be more discreet at work. You could barely see it under my uniform unless you knew what you were looking for! It felt humbling to finally not have to worry about customers asking me lots of questions about my medical health, but instead asking questions about all the different options we have on our menu! I felt like I could finally just do my job.

During the Fourth of July weekend while I was working, I went over to my table to take drink orders and noticed a girl about my age testing her blood sugar on a Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM)! I told her I didn’t mean to be rude, but wanted to let her know that I had diabetes and also use the Omnipod. She instantly asked me where I was wearing my Pod because she couldn’t see it.

Finally being able to do my job without everyone asking about my diabetes is such a relief!

Diabetes in Office Settings

Shannon realized that diabetes doesn't have to define her or alienate her.

Internships are exciting, but they’re also nerve-racking. Part of being a college student is testing the waters in an environment that you’re interested in working in one day. I was really excited to start my internship this summer, but also nervous. I had butterflies the first day. Not only was I nervous about the internship itself, but I was also nervous about my diabetes. I have never worked in an office setting before and I wondered how my diabetes management would affect me. Some of my concerns were if anyone would see my Omnipod or me testing my blood sugar - or if I’d have any incidents that would stop me from being able to do my work.

I struggled with how open I wanted to be about my diabetes. I’ve found that no one really noticed my Pod, as it fits so well under my dresses, skirts and other work outfits. And during lunch with my co-workers, I’d test my blood sugar under the table or in the bathroom.

But after the first couple weeks I decided I didn’t want to hide my diabetes, but I also didn’t want it to define me in any way, negative or positive. Now I test my blood sugar whenever and wear my Omnipod wherever I want without worry, because nobody makes a big deal about it. I’ve noticed that no one really asks me about my diabetes, whether or not  it’s because they don’t want to feel rude, I’m not sure.

My fears turned out to be something I shouldn’t have worried about. Everyone in the office likes me for me. Feeling comfortable with everyone in the office is awesome. It’s nice that I can grab lunch with colleagues without worrying that someone will judge me based on my diabetes and test my blood sugar at my desk without anyone thinking it’s strange! I think a lot of people with diabetes have these fears, but building good relationships with others really made me relax and realize I could just be myself!

While Shannon doesn’t hide her diabetes, she doesn’t always want it to be the center of attention either. Learn more about the discreet nature of the Omnipod and get a free demo here.