Diabetic: ‘Sorry, my blood sugar is 19.0 (US & EU 343) I must go home. I can’t think, I feel sick, I’m unable to digest, I feel faint, I’m trembling, sweating though my shirt, breath smells sweet, must have forgotten to take my night time insulin. I must go home and have my insulin before I fall over into a hyper-coma.’
Boss: “So bloody inconvenient.” – Inner voice. Shrug of the shoulders, ‘So, what does that mean? Are you saying you have to go home again – now? You don’t have it with you?‘
Diabetic: ‘Well yeah, I’m really unwell.’
Boss: ‘You can’t have someone drop it off for you?’
Diabetic: ‘I need to lie down.’
Boss: ‘It’s not ideal you know. We have other key team members off sick at the moment.’
Diabetic: “Yeah with hangovers.” – Inner voice. ‘I’m sorry there is nothing I can do. I need to head home and have my night time insulin and rest till it takes effect.’
Boss: “Yeah, like that’s my problem.” – Inner voice. ‘It isn’t the best time you know? We have tight deadlines to meet and you were off already with the diabetes. Can’t you have some Coca-Cola? I have some birthday cake on my desk with a hundred candles on it; wait and have a bit of that instead?’
Diabetic, ‘I was at the Diabetic Clinic the last time I was off. Listen, my eyes are going blurry and I have to go urgently.’
Boss: ‘Fair enough; it’s very inconsiderate but if you really have to… Oh, but can you finish up first and send updates to everyone on exactly what they will have to do to cover for you at such short notice. And haven’t you got meetings scheduled this afternoon? You don’t want to miss them and we’re all going to sing Happy Birthday to Cheryl on Reception… And we have that Marketing presentation.’
Diabetic: ‘I need to go now.’
Boss: ‘Well when will you be back?’
Diabetic: ‘Tomorrow morning.’
Boss: ‘So why were you off for so long last time, wasn’t that the diabetes?’
Diabetic: ‘No. I was on holiday.’
Boss: ‘You were on the phone and sending emails all the time.’
Diabetic: ‘You had me working from home to meet deadlines.’
Boss: ‘Well if you really have to go, I suppose… but didn’t I see you smoking?’
Diabetic: ‘Twelve years ago.’
Boss: ‘That’s what gave you the diabetes then; self-inflicted?’
Boss: ‘And what about James in Marketing, his grandmother has the diabetes, what did he say?’
Diabetic: ‘To have some cake.’
Boss: ‘I told you I’ve got cake in my office. And Cheryl on Reception, whose birthday you’re going to miss, she has the asthma, what does she say about all this?’
Diabetic: ‘That I should get a new diet-book.’
Boss: ‘Great idea! And what about Brian in Human Resources, what does he think?’
Diabetic: ‘That he fancies Cheryl.’
Boss: ‘And Harold in Accounts?’
Diabetic: ‘He fancies Cheryl as well.’
Boss: ‘Harold had the flu last week and he is back at his desk. What does he make of your diabetes?’
Diabetic: ‘He thinks it’s probably caused by work related stress because you keep taking on three-month projects and telling the clients we can deliver in three weeks.’
Boss: ‘What about your Doctor say; he must be sick of looking at you.’
Diabetic: ‘He says have more insulin and get myself a better diet-cook-book.’
Boss: ‘And the Specialists? You had a day off to see them before; did they not fix the diabetes?’
Diabetic: ‘They just said to eat what I like and have more insulin and buy their latest diet-cookery-books.’
Boss: ‘What about that thing on the news where they cured that dog. Can they not do that to you?’
Diabetic: ‘I don’t think it works like that.’
Boss: ‘Well, I see what you’re saying but I don’t feel you are doing yourself any favours and no-one here is going to give you a cuddle. Hadn’t you better snap out of it?’
Boss: ‘So all that and you’re really not willing to have some cake?’ hand on the shoulder, ‘Are you not just being a little bit difficult? I never planned for you to be off ill all of the time. Can you not just do me a personal favour and get better?’
Diabetic: ‘You don’t understand. I’m not being deliberately difficult. I need to go home now. I’m really ill!’
*The current cost to the economy of direct patient care, which includes treatment, intervention and complications, for those living with diabetes is estimated at £9.8 billion.
The current indirect costs associated with diabetes, such as those related to increased death and illness, work loss and the need for informal care, are estimated at £13.9 billion
It’ll be alright if we can just be unwell on very specific days, such as on holidays, Bank Holidays, Christmas Holidays and the Queen’s Birthday, but not working holidays.
If you can’t manage that then just be ill at everyone else’s convenience, and know well in advance when you expect to be ill; for exactly how long; have an ailment considered acceptable (falling into criteria of your Boss’s, colleagues and Doctor’s satisfaction); be willing to work from home unpaid whilst absent; never present the same ailment more than once in a single year (so uncouth); get on your knees and beg forgiveness – but don’t drool (too untidy) and promise (cross my heart and hope to die) never-ever to be ill again.
Clearly as a country we are calculating profit and loss in a game of chickens before they hatch; discrediting real world factors (our health – we are all made up of protein and bacteria after all) and promoting them as excuses for poor economic stability. Last year we entered into a double-dip recession riding on the back of a Royal Wedding and some snow. Running out of excuses fast, they pick on us.
Guilt in favour of understanding; welcome to the Health Class System.
*Deaths from diabetes in 2010/11 resulted in over 325,000 lost working years.
Written by Paul Cathcart, Author of ‘Persona non grata with diabetes.’
//* Official statistics quoted from Diabetes UK. http://www.diabetes.org.uk/About_us/News_Landing_Page/NHS-spending-on-diabetes-to-reach-169-billion-by-2035/