being a responsible, spatially aware, culturally cognizant, and consistently employed “adult” is an incredibly challenging thing. so is being in my twenties, sensitive, stressed out about being late to yoga, spilling coffee on my hands because starbucks cups suck, guys ruining my life then fixing it again, and my infusion set getting ripped out of my back by my new pleather leggings.
“boo hoo, what a little millennial,” you’re probably thinking. I know, I know, I sound like an ungrateful brat. I apologize, that is NOT the point of this post. instead, my goal for tonight was to shed some light on the reality of juggling essentially, what can feel like two jobs. or let’s put it this way, a full-time job, and a really needy, unemployed body part: my pancreas. that’s right, working all day with diabetes might sound just like any other naggy thing we all have to deal with from 8-6 (who actually works from 9-5? any of you?), but unfortunately, some days, it’s just not that simple.
I’ve worked at the same place for almost 3 years now and have been incredibly lucky. I work in a swanky, fun office (that’s right, that’s my leopard print snuggie on slide 8) with some incredible people, mentors, and friends. I have a lot of flexibility and freedom with my schedule, and by no means do I feel pressured to conceal my true, pump-in-bra-bearing self in my work environment. THAT SAID, though, it hasn’t always been easy for me. over the past several years, I’ve had to work really hard to be in the emotional and mental state of openness and confidence that I am in now. let’s rewind 3 years…
when I first started working, I wasn’t even on the pump. I was on pens and I was on the, “you’re lucky you’re young and resilient.” plan. I can’t even tell you how many emails I got from my saint of a dad politely reminding me that, “you know ‘fun’ is not synonymous with ‘happiness’, right?” because, frankly, the novelty of an income, independence, and a giant playground stacked with other, intoxicated 22 – year -olds took some time to wear off. needless to say, my priorities were exactly the same as every other post grad’s: go out on weekends, go to the gym, go to work, go out after work, eat pizza at 3 am, go to work, and repeat.
on tuesday mornings, I avoided our 300 person staff meetings because I often got lows early in the day due to my laziness. my fear of being low in an inconvenient and embarrassing place slowly developed itself into a consuming form of anxiety. before long, I had developed some very odd avoidance behavior. on top of that, I probably only tested 2-3 times a day because whipping my horrendous bloody kit out in front of people I barely knew was a no go. I was a very nervous person…my first nickname at the office was, “Piglet”. meetings after lunch were a wash because there was no way my blood sugar wasn’t below 250, and my weight fluctuated about 15 lbs over the course of the year. I knew I wasn’t in a good place, but I was enjoying life so much from a fun perspective, that I wasn’t willing to compromise my freedom until someone’s scolding resonated to my core.
fast forward a year, and I’m madly in love with my coworkers. I was the little sister of our group, and the diversity of personalities in our tribe were so fulfilling to be around. I was getting back into music, I was training for a half marathon, I was standing on my own two feet and the living was easy. One thing was missing though, and that was the reward of sensing professional acceleration and success. I had figured out how to socialize and flourish at work, but my ability to focus, and exhibit any form of discipline professionally was still lacking. Hm, I wonder why? maaaaaaybe it was because I still wasn’t accepting or dealing with the one major, most discipline requiring aspect of my life : my pancreas. bingo.
after countless incidents of forgetting my pens at home, needles bending, test strips running out, blood sugars covering every number on the spectrum, and frantic excuses and trips back to my apartment, I finally accepted defeat. I would never be the person I wanted to be if I didn’t make a commitment to up my game, and stop being so damn lazy. so, I went on the pump. yeah, it was absolutely terrifying, but it has turned out to be the single most important, mature decision I’ve ever made for myself. my future success as an independent person is infinitely brighter now because of the change.
yes, derek, my pump, can be a little buzz kill sometimes. things still go very wrong when I’m right in the middle of my most important days at work. but the peace of mind that my numbers aren’t going swing like they used to, makes more space in my brain for me to focus on the important stuff. it creates the mental bandwidth for me to be more present, and less worrisome. now I have the ability to push my mind and my body a little harder without having to stop and think, “am I going to be able to sit through this 2 hour training without a disaster happening?” it is also no surprise, that a mere 4 months after I switched to my pump I received my first promotion. with the acceptance of integrating diabetes into my “to do” list in a more mature way, my whole work ethic and mindset was able to shift in a more motivated, self-aware, and disciplined direction.
so now we’re back to the present: February 2014. I’ve been with most of the same colleagues and peers now for the entire time I’ve had my job, so my comfort level and openness is a bit extreme compared to some others. my work family is also a great support system for me, holding me accountable and checking on me from time to time (I even have 2 designated ‘durses’…dad-nurses). but keep that in mind when considering your own journey. not everyone wants to be known as the girl that sits in a department meeting that whips her pump out after she finishes her chobani (aka me). and that’s okay! you can still take steps to improve how well you take care of yourself at work without shouting from the conference room mountain tops that you need to bolus your burrito before your client call. everyone manages this experience their own way. every week I set new goals for myself to continue improving the multi-tasking mind fuck diabetes care can be (holler at my girl and co-worker, sam, for being a major force with that). we can only do the best with what we’re given, the time we’re allotted, and the energy we have. now, go make that money green and enjoy yourself. and test, always test.