Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Putting Yourself First

I had a conversation with my husband this morning about putting yourself first. He goes to work earlier than most of his co-workers, and usually stays as late or later than they do. Not terribly late, but sometimes I see it interfering with him taking care of himself. As in yesterday when he stayed late and skipped his workout. He sees it as having a good work ethic and being a team player.

That made me think about how many of our workplaces subtly (and not so subtly) encourage us to sacrifice our health for the sake of work, and how having diabetes has changed my thinking on in regards to that topic.

Before diabetes, I was pretty hard core, going above and beyond, skipping lunch at times, working weekends, giving them more than they asked for at work, not working out much, etc. My bosses loved me. Slowly but surely, I have come to the point of putting myself first in terms of things I do for my health, and I really wonder if that is somehow actually easier for me than most because of diabetes.

When I was on a less flexible insulin regimen, I HAD to eat at certain times, so I did, regardless of what was going on at work. I ate at my desk, I ate in meetings, whatever it took, but I put eating the carbs I was committed to via my last insulin shot first. When I had a low, I HAD to take care of it. So work stopped, everything stopped so I could eat some glucose tabs and regain a clear mind. Some of that has spilled over into other ways of taking care of my health that aren't as urgent. I became a morning exerciser (at least most days), and shifted my schedule at work back a little to accommodate that. I would always eat breakfast, even if it meant being a little late on occasion (I also stayed late on occasion). I jealously guarded getting a good night's sleep. I didn't skip meals, even though I could once I went on a more flexible insulin regimen and now the pump.

Another reason for this shift is seeing that working harder than the next guy or gal, and being loyal to your company does not often yield loyalty in return. I've seen it over and over again, and I know most of you have too...folks who gave up their health, time with their kids, sleep, etc., only to get laid off. Seeing a friend work many nights pumping out proposals, not seeing her husband and son, and then being passed over for promotion. Seeing a company wait to terminate the employment of a programmer until he finished the project that requires hours of overtime and late nights (without extra pay since he was salaried). Those things have never happened to me personally, and I've been treated better than most throughout my career, but just seeing it changes you.

So I still believe in having a strong work ethic. If I am getting paid to do a job, I do my best to do it well. But I no longer see it as heroic to sacrifice my health or family in order to get a gold star in the workplace. Gold stars are overrated!