Exercise is a key way that people can manage their diabetes, but finding the time to fit it into your daily schedule isn’t always easy. Likewise, bringing up your diabetes with your employer can be tricky. Here, Urmila explains how she dealt with both.
Urmila, 50, from Slough, was struggling with fitting exercise into her week and talking to her employer about her diabetes. But she found ways to deal with both, and has contributed tips to the new free book, ‘100 things I wish I’d known about diabetes’.
Published by Diabetes UK, the book sees people living with diabetes sharing their tips with others who have the condition, their families and friends.
Get doctors’ letters to help you at workUrmila used to work at an airport checking people in.
She was proud of her work and spent over 30 years in the job before taking redundancy 18 months ago. She first received her diagnosis for Type 2 diabetes in 1995, after a colleague saw how much water she was drinking.
“I was downing a pint of water about every fifteen minutes,” she says. “I thought it was because we were talking to passengers about their security in a warm office, but a colleague saw me do it several times and he pointed me to the doctors.”Once she had her diagnosis, Urmila tried to make sure she could manage her condition properly at work – but that wasn’t always easy.
Urmila’s first tip in the book advises how you can get doctors’ letters or hospital letters for anything that might affect you at work. That might be for the type of shoes you can wear, or when you need to take break times. “It will make things easier when you need to explain something to your employer,” she says.“I had to take medication at a certain time, but I was often told that operational requirements meant I would take it when there was time. I also had shifts that moved a lot, meaning I wouldn’t get the right rest and that my blood glucose levels would fluctuate.
And there was also a problem with how warm the building was – I had to wear a buttoned-up jacket made of cheap material so I was hot all the time, which made it hard for me to recognise when I was having a hypo.”Urmila explained her situation to her union rep and they explained how she could expect her employer to make reasonable adjustments to ensure she was not placed at a disadvantage due to her diabetes. After getting her GP and her consultant to write her letters, she was able to get her shifts fixed, have times to take her insulin and dispensation to wear clothing she was comfortable in.
Urmila has started a new job and is keen to make sure she applies the knowledge she learned. If you have encountered problems in the workplace, Diabetes UK runs an advocacy service who can give you support and advice. Find out more information on our advocacy service pages.
Walking is an easy way to get more exerciseWhile Urmila managed to get more support at work with managing her diabetes, she was still struggling to find a way to get more exercise into her day. Says Urmila: “I would often be told about exercise but medical staff often didn’t understand that I would be doing shift work so I would get up at 3.30am and come home at 2pm.
The last thing on my mind was exercise – it was catching up with the housework and getting dinner done to get into bed by 7pm to be up for work.”She had tried signing up at a local gym and spent lots of money on exercise equipment, but couldn’t find something she would regularly take part in. In the end, Urmila realised she didn’t need to spend a lot of cash – and instead goes for a 30-minute walk with her husband after dinner. “At first I took my husband and it was difficult – we would be talking and getting out of breath, and I knew I had to get better. But it’s got easier now.
Half an hour after dinner and you’re done.“l finally found what l like and it is free, relaxing, helps keep my lungs stronger as l walk and to talk to my husband and not realising the distance walked.“My HB1ac is under much better control and the hospital are happy. I stick to going to the diabetic clinic at the hospital as they are more helpful and understanding than the GP.
”Urmila says that if she could turn the clock back ‘I would have done things very differently’, but that walking is a great way to make sure she looks after herself now. In Diabetes UK’s new book ‘100 things I wish I’d known about living with diabetes’ people with diabetes share useful tips around every part of life to help others living with the condition. Order your free copy now: http://www.diabetes.org.uk/100things