During a diabetes at work themed OzDOC chat a few weeks ago, I was reminded of an instance where I was given a hard time for leaving work early for a diabetes appointment. During the discussion, I shared how confrontation and explanation had really paid off for me in the long run.
— Frank (@FrankSita) March 29, 2016
I am fortunate that I have the luxury of starting work early, and finishing early. This gives me a little more flexibility in tending to any diabetes related demands in the afternoon, or simply taking some time to breathe.
However, appointments to see specialists at my diabetes clinic often do fall during working hours. I attend a diabetes clinic in a public hospital, meaning appointments are in high demand and often carry a long waiting list. The clinic is only open 4 days per week, and specialists often gravitate between a few places of work. I am in no position to simply cancel an inconvenient appointment, or reschedule at a time that suits me.
I am always transparent about attending diabetes appointments during work hours. I will supply my employer with the hospital confirmation letter confirming where I am. Even if the appointment is at 11am, I will still come in for a few hours during the morning just to show that I am being honest.
I consider myself a pretty reliable worker. If I’m not at work by quarter to seven in the morning, you can probably assume that something is wrong. I call in sick very rarely. I always pitch in and help where needed. Diabetes rarely interferes with my work, and many are surprised to learn that I have it.
It really hurt me that I wasn’t automatically trusted in this instance. I thought I had a decent relationship with my boss, even though he’s not around too often. But the truth was, I don’t think he had ever heard from me that I had diabetes. Besides, I refused to let this slide out of principle.
I explained the situation. I explained that I had diabetes, and that I see specialists to look after my condition. I explained that it wasn’t always practical to be able to obtain appointments outside of work hours. I also made the point that I could have called in sick and presented a medical certificate. Instead, I gave notice and came in for a few hours to help the team out during the morning.
I think I took him by surprise. I dare say I made him feel guilty for it. I think it simply came down to a lack of understanding, which was easily rectified with education and information.
Ever since, I haven’t had any problems with work and diabetes. I get asked how everything is going, which is kind of nice. I’m taking some time off work during an extremely busy period to get my insulin pump next month, and so far everyone’s been respectful of it.
Talk. Explain. Educate. In most cases, they simply don’t know. Sticking up for myself in that situation was one of the best things I could ever have done for myself.