Most people are not prone to revealing their medical conditions to people. And I can’t say I don’t understand where they’re coming from. Some people are fearful of how others will act and react around them once they know. Others feel that perhaps they’ll be treated differently at work and potentially get passed up for promotions and special duties if certain medical conditions are known.
In Canada, the Labour Code and the Charter of Rights prohibits such discriminatory behaviour on the grounds of a medical condition, but if you were to strap your boss’ appendages to a polygraph and ask if that was the reason, you might be surprised. And in some cases, most cases I would think, this stems from ignorance about conditions such as Diabetes. So in a way, employers may think they’re protecting you as well as their business by ensuring they don’t put you in a position where you could bring harm to yourself.
Truth be told, I’ve always been of the opinion that full disclosure on what’s going on with me is the best policy. This simplifies matters, especially in cases where I need to request time off for something like my eye injections. In addition to that, I’ve been in a position on more than one occasion in my youth, where I’ve suffered Diabetic issues and the people around me didn’t know what was going on. Not a pleasant situation to be in.
So this begs two question: How much should you tell your employer/friends/family? And what should these folks do in a situation where you are having a Diabetic episode? The answer to the first one may be my opinion. The answer to the second is common sense and SHOULD be observed, regardless of what environment you work in.
First, let’s make something clear: you are under no obligation to share your medical information with an employer. The Labour Code and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are reasonably clear on that. But you can click on the links to research that on your own. But should you choose to disclose your Diabetes to an employer, it can be a life-saving choice, as we all need some help every once in a while. I’ve been in situations where although I’m conscious and able to speak, I was sure grateful to have someone get my glucose to help me out. This can be an important consideration and you should bear it in mind before deciding that you don’t want to bring up your Diabetes.
The next point, and I’ve been asked this more times than I can count, is what to do if you find someone suffering from Diabetic symptoms (extreme high or low blood sugar). This is what would be referred to as hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia. Both are pretty terrible and carry their own set of complications, and there are differing opinions on what you should do if you come across someone you believe is suffering from either.
What I usually try to explain to people is that they’ll always be faced with one of two scenarios. Either I’m conscious, in which case I’ll get them to help me get what I need, or I’m unconscious. If a suspected, Diabetic patient is unconscious, I don’t care what literature you’ve read that says otherwise, DON’T TRY TO GIVE THEM ANYTHING!!! If you can’t ascertain if their blood is too high or too low, trying to treat them blindly can cause more damage.
For a while, there was a school of thought that said to give a Diabetic some glucose as you would either treat a low or if they were running high, first responders could treat it when they got on scene. Are you kidding me? If they’re in rough shape from high blood sugars, the amount of damage you can do to them by giving them additional glucose would be catastrophic.
If you’re familiar with Diabetes and the equipment we use, you could potentially test their blood. Most glucometers are reasonably fool-proof these days. Just stick the test strip into the slot and the meter will tell you what to do anyway. In this way, you can ascertain if they’re running too high or too low, and this can be of great help to first responders and you’ll know if providing glucose would be a good idea or not. But if you blindly give glucose, you could cause issues like DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis), organ failure, nerve damage and even heart attacks and strokes. Not a chance I’d want anyone taking with MY life if they were there.
If you were on the ball enough to call 911, first responders will be there in due course to deal with matters. The best option is to keep the person safe and clear of any danger and make sure to pass on whatever symptoms you may have documented to first responders so they can best do their job. And if you work/live with someone who has Diabetes, ask some questions. Most of us will gladly answer them as we not only prefer to clear up any confusion, most of us understand that it could be of great help to us in an emergency.
And if you HAVE Diabetes, consider letting your employer know. You may not HAVE to, but doing so could potentially save your life. And let’s be honest; there’s no shame in having Diabetes. Contrary to how it’s sometimes portrayed in the media, having Type-1 Diabetes is not your fault and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. A little food for thought on your Wednesday morning. ☯