Is your boss aware of your diabetes? And does it matter?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2016-04-14 21:07:29 -0500
Started 2016-03-23 17:34:27 -0500

My clients sometimes talk about their relationships at work, especially with their bosses.

I have been told stories from clients who felt like their boss was expecting less of them because of their diabetes, even to the point of telling them in front of other employees that they shouldn’t help with something that their boss is concerned might be too physically taxing.

Have you been in this situation? On one hand, having a boss who understands and accommodates your chronic condition is a good thing. On the other hand, nobody likes to be singled out and told they aren’t up to a task, and made to feel like they can’t be trusted to make that decision themselves.

And then there are those bosses who are pretty insensitive, if downright hostile, when it comes to accepting that you might have a bad day once in awhile, or have to be absent from work, or require legally mandated accommodations.

Another possibility is that your boss may not be aware that you are diabetic, and you may want to keep it that way.

I wrote an article about his topic recently. Here’s a link:

I am interested in how you relate to your boss in terms of your diabetes. Has it been an issue in any way? Has your boss been especially accommodating? Or are you just keeping it to yourself.

Really looking forward to hearing from you!

46 replies

OrchidNox 2016-03-29 12:19:16 -0500 Report

Everyone I work with knows I'm diabetic. They're also 20-somethings that have perfect bodies that will never ever every fall apart. *jk* They really don't care, at this point. But I do know that I'd rather have them know than not know. I do work for a fairly socially progressive company, tho, so it's not a big deal.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-29 21:00:08 -0500 Report

Hi OrchidNox, Working for a progressive company is a very good thing. I remember being in my 20's. It feels like youth will just go on forever, doesn't it? :))

Pump man
Pump man 2016-03-29 11:08:02 -0500 Report

Guess I'm lucky. At my workplace there is no problem with diabetes. I have a insulin pump and check bs sometimes in front of other workers before lunch. There are several people on staff who are diabetic. My boss understands that I may need to change my infusion set in the restroom. I have very good response from the management and other workers where I work. I am blessed in that regard.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-29 20:58:04 -0500 Report

Hi Pump man, nice to meet you. Wow, sounds like a very diabetic-friendly workplace. That's great. Blessed for sure!

Mallacai 2016-03-27 20:26:37 -0500 Report

I am part owner of a small family owned business. Initially after DX i asked our employees to respect me and not offer me anything to eat or drink to which they respected. Recently i noticed that has changed and some will insist i have a slice of cake, some chocolates etc. Saying no does not help ( our culture is different from North America it's considered rude to decline ). So that's my challenge on work. We do have a couple employees who are diabetic and i do try to "educate/motivate " them in healthier choices but it's like talking to brick walls. One whose glucose readings are constantly in the 300's gives me advice although my 2 hour PP are within range. Problem he constantly takes sicks days off and is bold enough to say to me "but i was sick " I have since decided to focus on me.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-28 14:32:48 -0500 Report

HI Mallacai, thanks for checking in and sharing your perspective. That was a good idea on your part to ask in advance that you not be offered food that's not on your diet. But it sounds like the pushing and prodding has resumed. I understand how culture can play such a strong role in terms of customs around sharing food. I am wondering if your employees may need to be gently educated again, and reminded that the best way to help you is to not push food at you. I know it must be frustrating when other diabetics don't want to take care of themselves as well as they could and need to. As a result they place themselves at risk and productivity declines. And yes, we all need to make ourselves a priority. That much we do have control over. Good to see you again.

AttaGirl1969 2016-03-27 10:42:24 -0500 Report

No trouble with my boss or co-workers. Any trouble is with customers. We don't really get breaks, so we eat when we get a chance. I'm obese, so customers think I shouldn't be eating. I've been in the middle of a low, trying to get my numbers up and had customers get nasty even after my co-worker explains what's up. I've been lucky though. I've got great co-workers.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-28 14:27:13 -0500 Report

HI Attagirl, nice to see you again. Wow, it's always disappointing to hear how insensitive and judgmental people can be. We humans can be pretty mean to each other. It's great to hear that your co-workers are a lot more understanding. Support means a lot.

Maintanenceman1 2016-03-25 18:50:13 -0500 Report

I've been borderline type 2 for several years, but at first part of this month I was diagnosed as type 2. My Supervisor is type 1 and understands completely I need to inform the shift supervisor who is above my supervisor.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-28 14:25:59 -0500 Report

Hey Maintenanceman, nice to have a supervisor who really gets what you're dealing with, and nobody knows better than another diabetic. Hope the boss above is also as understanding. Thanks for checking in.

Maintanenceman1 2016-04-14 21:07:29 -0500 Report

Told the shift supervisor on Tues. Found that the shift supervisor is Type 2 as well, and got fussed at for scaring her because my bg dropped really low from not eating for several hours.

Kats49 2016-03-24 11:12:56 -0500 Report

Yes, My employers were aware of my diabetes…I apparently was blessed in that fashion. I was allowed to check my BS at my desk and munch if needed. Students didn't care for it… but better than passing out…lol

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-24 18:00:55 -0500 Report

Hey Kats! Yes, I think you were blessed. And glad you did what you needed to do to take care of yourself. A whole lot better than passing out.

Ry Guy89
Ry Guy89 2016-03-23 23:57:38 -0500 Report

My boss knows. He as well is diabetic. He is Type 2 and I am Type 1. Not that, that means anything, but he is understanding and knows that it was just recent that I was diagnosed. In fact other than my mom, he was the next person I called. Of course I was in the hospital calling out sick. I'm soon to be moving so I hope my next job I will be able to bring it out. I don't hide the fact that I have diabetes. I want people to know so if something should happen to me, they are aware.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-24 18:00:10 -0500 Report

Hy RyGuy89, it's great to meet you. Thanks for checking in and letting us know what's going on with you. I am sure your boss's experience with diabetes helps him to be that much more sensitive to what you are dealing with. That's great that he has been so supportive. And I agree it's a good idea to make sure the people you work with know what to do in the event of an emergency. I am hoping your next work situation is also a supportive place. And I hope you will keep in touch with us and let us know how you are doing. :))

mcmbkk 2016-03-23 22:38:41 -0500 Report

I was the boss in my own business for three decades with over 100 employees. Over the years I had many employees with health issues and some were diabetics. I cannot imagine embarrassing anyone or being insensitive. I would always ask them what I should know in case there was a problem. No brainier for a boss.

Kalisiin 2016-03-24 21:19:22 -0500 Report

I'd agree with you, mcmbkk. Without being too nosy, I, as a boss myself…would like to know if there ARE issues my employees have…and what I can do within the workplace to help them manage those things. It makes them a more productive employee, in my opinion.

Too many bosses think people should be machines and treat them as such.

mcmbkk 2016-03-24 23:16:25 -0500 Report

My name is Cameron. Feel free to message me about managing these issues. I never paid a whole lot of attention to the legal side of this part of running the company. Just deal from the heart and honestly. Used to drive my lawyer insane but who cares.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-24 17:56:44 -0500 Report

Hey mcmbkk, you were an ideal boss, it sounds like to me. The world needs more bosses like you!

mcmbkk 2016-03-24 23:18:16 -0500 Report

Oh I had many things I wasn't good at but dealing with people was usually a strong point. Hey, mistakes were made but not awful ones.

Kalisiin 2016-03-25 18:38:54 -0500 Report

Indeed. I judge a person/business…not on the fact that a mistake happened…as a business owner, I know too well mistakes DO happen.

I judge based on how the person/company DEALS WITH IT. If they learn from it so that it does not happen again.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-29 21:01:18 -0500 Report

Kalisiin, I totally agree with you. Mistakes will happen, but need to be followed up by adequate solutions.

Scared ****less
Scared ****less 2016-03-23 22:30:23 -0500 Report

I just got promoted. But no nobody knows about my diabetes. Since Iwork 2 days at home and 2days in office I have lots of personal time

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-24 17:55:26 -0500 Report

Hey Scared, congratulations on your promotion. Sounds like you want to keep your diagnosis to yourself.

Scared ****less
Scared ****less 2016-03-24 19:07:10 -0500 Report

Yea I dont discuss my private life at work or even with my freinds

Kalisiin 2016-03-24 21:21:31 -0500 Report

Well, there are all things about us that we keep to ourselves, I am no exception. But you really might consider the people you are going to be around knowing your condition, so that they can render proper aid in an emergency.

Not saying you need to advertise it to everyone. But most larger companies have several designated First Aid people…and if you have such in your company, you might want to let them know. These people generally are forbidden from discussing your condition with anyone, except as it relates to providing emergency aid to you.

Kalisiin 2016-03-23 19:49:11 -0500 Report

My boss is aware of my diabetes.

Of course, I AM my own boss, LOL.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-24 17:54:53 -0500 Report

Well I hope your boss isn't too demanding. Balance is everything.

Kalisiin 2016-03-24 21:25:43 -0500 Report

I am the toughest boss I ever worked for. But I love what I do…and I also know when to just get up from my desk, walk away for a bit, and then come back. Fortunately, as my own boss, I actually have the freedom to do this.

Those who are chained to their desks and forced to "soldier through" a very frustrating situation…often arrive at a solution that ultimately does more harm than good.

I had just such a situation yesterday. I inherited a mess with a new client…the previous billers fouled everything up. and I am in the process of untangling the mess.

Yesterday, I just needed to get up and walk away for a while…and this morning, I was able to drill down to the source of the problem. I now have a supervisor at TennCare dealing with the issue and is going to follow up with me on Monday, hopefully to tell me the situation has been resolved. But now we all know what needs to be done for it to GET resolved…and resolved correctly. It is just a matter of how fast can we get the wheels of bureaucracy to move…

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-25 15:51:35 -0500 Report

Hi Kalisiin, that is a good point. When we make a decision out of frustration or desperation, it is often not the best decision. I have also found that being self-employed allows me the flexibility to walk away from something when I need a break, and to work on it when I am at my best. So I might take a couple of hours during the day to run an errand, and then work on something when I am in a better frame of mind, even late in the evening. I can work with my own rhythms.

Kalisiin 2016-03-25 18:40:55 -0500 Report

Exactly. That is the absolute BESTEST advantage of being self-employed.

You often do not make the best decisions, or follow the best course of action to resolve a problem when you are frustrated.

KM#6 2016-03-23 18:51:45 -0500 Report

My boss is aware that I am a diabetic. I don't think that she expects less of me because of my diabetes. I maintain an energetic attitude and let my fellow peers know if I am having a low or what to do if an emergency situation would arise. Only one time have I had to leave work 30 minutes early as my infusion site stopped working and my bldsg was quickly headed to the upper 300's :(. My boss even offered to drive me home! Blessed. (One of my peers actually ended up dropping me off, thankful)

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-24 17:54:25 -0500 Report

Hey KM#6, great to see you. Glad to hear you have such a supportive boss. I am guessing that your upbeat attitude is appreciated by your boss and your co-workers. It must be reassuring to you to know that your co-workers know what to do in the event of an emergency, that's great. Thanks for sharing this. Stay in touch!

Esox 2016-03-23 18:37:39 -0500 Report

I'm my own boss. I need to talk to myself so I understand to take more time for exercise.

granniesophie 2016-03-23 18:19:21 -0500 Report

My boss has Diabetes too, diagnosed a couple of years ago! He comes to me with questions. He allows me to work from home on the days I feel bad, although I don't have issues with Diabetes, it is with everything else wrong with me that causes me to have to work at home. I can easily work from home, it's all email and phone stuff, and I bring my work laptop home, so I have everything I need

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-24 17:48:26 -0500 Report

Hi Granniesophie, what a connection for you and your boss to have. I suspect he is especially aware and respectful of what it is like to live with diabetes since he is traveling the same path, though I understand you have other health issues as well. That's a good situation you have worked out for yourself.

Type1Lou 2016-03-23 17:50:47 -0500 Report

I am now retired but developed diabetes while I worked as a supervisor in an office. I was diagnosed Type 1 in 1976 after losing 10 pounds in 2 weeks and being constantly thirsty and frequent urination. Once I received my diagnosis, I made certain to notify my employer. I had been working there since 1972, having started as an entry-level customer-service representative. I continued working for that same company and received many subsequent promotions and a transfer/relocation to a different state. In my last management position, I traveled frequently and put in many 10 to 12 hour days to get the job done. I finally left them in 1994 to join my husband in retirement. I rarely missed work due to diabetes but did not get hassled for testing my blood when needed or eating if I was treating a low BG. I believe I was valued as an employee and my bosses treated me well. (In fact, I'm still friends with one of my former bosses and his wife.) I've read other posts where their working environment was not as sympathetic but I was lucky that I never experienced any negative reactions due to my diabetes.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-03-24 17:42:17 -0500 Report

Hey Lou, thanks for checking in. Glad to hear you had an employer who treated you so well. I suspect that you took great care of yourself and because of that you maintained your high level of performance. You sure did put in the hours! They were lucky to have you which it sounds like they knew. Now I hope you are enjoying your well deserved retirement.

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