The Diabetic Professional: A contradiction of terms?
Now that I’ve started my last year of uni, I’m spending a lot of time trying to be a professional. I’m currently on my first 6-week placement of the year, living a few hours drive away from home. For 4-5 days a week, I’m treated almost like a qualified speech pathologist. For 8.5hours a day, 4-5 days a week, I wear my speech pathologist hat. Then I come home, take it off and go back to being Bec. When I’m back home in Sydney and working on health consumer committees or in advocacy roles, I’m wearing my advocate hat.
The problem is, the hats are very different. I’ve got Bec, a health advocate, and a professional. When I’m wearing the advocate hat I’m very loud about my diabetes. I use my experiences to attempt to make change in the health care system, albeit on a small level. I am a person with feelings, thoughts and ideas on making change.
When I’m just myself, I’m also pretty open with my diabetes. I test my sugar in front of strangers and usually feel comfortable explaining my diabetes if someone asks. With people I’m close to, I’m an emotional person. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it makes me notice how other people might be feeling pretty quickly. I’m someone with hobbies, like playing the piano and photography. I’m someone who likes to challenge people with difficult questions and be challenged in return. I like to think about big questions, and discuss them with people who don’t necessarily agree with me.
Clearly, I’m fun at parties.
But Bec the professional is different. For one, she’s usually “Rebecca”. She has this funny idea that it’s unprofessional to be anything less than perfect. That means no feelings, and certainly no diabetes.
Ha. Never works that way.
Just this week I had to take a day off from huge sugar fluctuations that meant I got very little sleep and woke up with high sugars. I got upset during a meeting with my supervisor later in the week, partly because I’m a bit touchy at the moment, but also because my sugar was 15+.
Feelings and diabetes in one meeting. I wanted to be swallowed by the floor.
But thinking back on it, do I really want to be a robot at work? No.
Do I want to have constantly high sugars at work? Nope.
Do I want to be a soppy mess? Hell no.
Ah to be well adjusted… that’d be nice.
I have no answer to this one so I’m passing it to you. What is a professional? How do we do our jobs with a condition that impacts us in so many unpredictable ways every day?
Please excuse the title. I believe in person first language for other people but I tend to use “diabetic” when I speak about myself. Also “The Professional with Diabetes” doesn’t have as nice a ring to it ;)