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!


Donna said...

I have a friend at work who has pre-diabetes & I'm going to show her your post. She needs to read this. The other day, she worked all day & all night up until 5:30 in the morning. Then went home to get a shower & came back soon after. She does this all the time. I worry about her doing this so much. It's just not healthy. Thanks for writing about this.

Anonymous said...

You are so right. Sometimes we get caught up in this perfectionist world of ours and forget about some of the most important things like our health and our family. So I'm glad to hear that you are taking care of yourself.

Also, because you post about living with type 1 diabetes, I thought you might take the time to help out the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) a bit.

We are in the midst of our preparations for the first UN-observed World Diabetes Day ( on 14 November this year, and I wanted to ask you if you would like to help us to spread awareness of this worldwide event and the theme we have chosen for it this year - Diabetes in Children and Adolescents.

It is estimated that over 200 children develop type 1 diabetes every day and there's no question that the disease often hits disadvantaged communities the hardest, and that children in the developing world can die because their parents are unable to afford medication. In many countries diabetes is still considered an adult disease and as a result can be diagnosed late with severe consequences, including death. Even after diagnosis many children experience poor control and develop complications early.

This is why one of our key objectives for World Diabetes Day this year is to double the number of children covered by the Life for a Child Program - We also want to encourage initiatives that can help to reduce diabetic ketoacidosis (diabetic coma) and to promote the sort of healthy lifestyles which can prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes in children.

A version of the diabetes circle, the icon we used for our Unite for Diabetes campaign has now been adopted for World Diabetes Day and we have produced a number of web banners that you can view and download here

The way in which you can help us spread awareness of World Diabetes Day is to add one of the banners to your own blog, which we would really appreciate.

The UN's World Diabetes Day Resolution (61/225) was really just the first goal of an ambitious campaign that we have been leading. This is the first time a non-communicable disease has been recognised as a serious threat to global public health and we are hoping now to further raise awareness globally of the disease that is predicted to contribute to 6% of the world’s mortality in 2007.

If you would like to know more about the UN Resolution and our plans for World Diabetes Day this year, just drop me a line at and I will get back to you with more information.

Many thanks,
Stephanie Tanner
IDF - Communications Assistant

elise urbahn said...

I work at dLife and I was wondering if you would like to be added to our diabetes blogger email list? Every week we send a fun video clip about diabetes. If you are interested, please contact me at urbahn at dlife dot com. Thanks!