Three years ago I was a first year teacher. I've always struggled with the balance of using sick days for being 'sick' or using them to go to doctors' appointments that are only open during the times that I teach. My first year of teaching was horrible, because not only did I catch every little thing the kids got, my mother collapsed with a heart attack and needed a pacemaker/defibulator put in and needed my help to take care of her for some time. I ended up going over my alloted sick days and when my review time came around, the principal actually told me that he would not renew my contract because he needed a teacher he could count on being there on a regular basis. I felt it was discrimination, but was too new and too scared to do anything about it. I left the school with my head hanging low, so very embarassed.
Now I am at a new district and am extremely scared that I will end up in the same situation. Last year I had gallbladder surgery and was so worried that I was going to go over my sick day allottment that one day I actually drove the forty minutes to work with extreme lows just to avoid taking another day off of work. I avoid making doctor appointments that are just 'check ups'. The staff I work with now is supporting, but I HATE feeling guilty about what happens with my diabetes and I HATE the sympathy that I get when I return to work after facing complications. I don't feel like I have any control over it and it angers me beyond belief.
I never want to take more time (I actually aim for less time) than my non-diabetic counterparts. It is not always reasonable but I totally get where you are coming from.
I am not sure if you want any comments on other possible options – and I apologize if you didn’t… I was wondering if, since you are in a supportive environment, you may be able to pull the head administrator (whoever is responsible for your performance evaluations) aside and have a candid chat about what your ideal medical schedule would be like and to see if they can help you find a way to balance that with your obligations to the school. I do think that they probably do or at least should have some obligation to allow for medical needs but if you can do it in a way they are happy about, I think it may help you to be more comfortable taking the time.
Where the sympathy thing is concerned - I know it is frustrating but it does pay to embrace those looking to show their support (i did not learn this lesson the easy way, LOL - in fact - still working on it ;) )
You are definitely juggling a whole lot more than I ‘d be able to handle in narrow time constraints. Please let us know what you decide to do and how it works out. Also, have you looked into any of the resources that ADA and JDRF have to offer to see if either organization has resources or insights that may help?
Hi Nicole -
I appreciate where you are coming from and your employer is lucky to have someone so devoted to her job! I just finished medical school and the last 2 years were like a job, working 60-80 hours per week (and I was pregnant the last 9 months of it). I actually had bimonthly then weekly appointments starting very early in pregnancy. Yet I did not feel that guilty about missing the time. Here's why: a job is a job. My health is my life. My future. My children's future. My family. My health is my priority. Yours should be too. Your workplace has to accommodate you. Don't view it as a disability but as a priviledge. You should be making every check-up, eyes/endo/gyn etc. that is necessary because if you don't take care of yourself now, not only will your career be abbreviated (I have seen MANY patients on disability because of complications of type 1 diabetes), but so will your life.
You are more important than your job. That being said, your job needs the healthiest you. I'm sorry - this sounds like a lecture which I know is not what you need. From a health care perspective and a career perspective, however, I encourage you to abandon the guilt and accept that you may need a few additional appointments compared to your colleagues. We don't choose to have diabetes. However, we can choose to care for ourselves.
I hope that helps everyone.
I am a teacher as well, and last year I went over my allotted sick days because of appointments and a surgery at the end of the year...only by 1/2 day though. My administration didn't have a problem with it, and when I actually was interviewed I made sure to tell them that I had diabetes and would be using my sick days to the fullest! ;) This year, I have used 5 so far but I still have 10 left. I'm trying to save them for when I become pregnant and use them for maternity leave. I had to use the 5 days for sickness and because my insulin pump broke, twice, and I had to stay at home and sign for a new one to come in the mail and set it back up again.
Anyway, one thing you can do is schedule appointments to coincide with our days off of school. I just schedule way in advance. For example, my last appt was in October and I scheduled my next appt at that time for Jan 19 which is a day off school. We get a lot of days off, so hopefully you can ask your endo to let you schedule your appointments way ahead of time and that will help you with sick days. I have also scheduled appt's for late in the day and have only had to take a 1/2 sick day. Can you do that?
Hope this helps..I definitely know how you are feeling and have been in your shoes! Hopefully this administration is more supportive than the last!
Thanks for the support and advice everyone! I am trying to be more proactive about taking days that I have 'off' of work to schedule dr. appointments and I'm really working on putting me and my health first. It's nice to know that people out there are going through similar things :)
Think of it this way. You need to be the healthiest you can be. That means (for us Diabetics and most others) going to the Doctor. It's easier to prevent sickness if you see the doctor regularly than to take an extended leave because you didn't catch something early. My endocrinologist (and GP for that matter) sets my appts 3-4 months in advance. If yours does the same, hopefully that should be enough notice for your job to get a sub in that day. Maybe you can work your appts so you just leave early or come in late so you don't miss a whole day, just a few hours. I agree with what has been posted by the others, especially A-D. You should talk to you administrator and see what he/she suggests. GOOD LUCK!!!
I have found a doctor that I can do evisits with. I fill out a questionaire and submit it and she emails me back. Sometimes I need to have bloodwork done and she calls it into a lab that is opened on Saturday mornings and when she gets the results, she emails me. Also, I am on the mini med pump and I download my pump readings and my doctor has my sign on and password and she can take a look whenever she needs to and sends me an email to do any adjusting I need. The best part of this is that my insurance company pays the edoctor visit (which is only $29.00 each. My insurance is Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida. They actually sponsor the website.
I hope you can find something like this in your area....
That's great....where are you in FL that they do that? I am in FL also but my endo is in S. Miami (about 45 minutes from me). I make the drive 2-3 times a year to see him. I used to live in S. Miami so not so bad, a bit more difficult since moving to Broward but I've been going to the same endo for close to 20 years and I don't want to change.....How does the e-visit work (and I can't believe BCBS of FL covers something so "unusual"!)
I need a new endo. I have never had any luck with any since being diagnosed. There is only one local and because there is only one.....he is VERY busy. It is tough to get an appointment and then it is difficult to get his attention when I do. I need someone a bit more personal. So I am still looking.
I love the evisits. That is with my primary doc. She is great and it saves me from taking time off of work and it lets her keep her schedule open for people uncomfortable with computers and such. I love it. I need to find an endo that does that now. LOL :)
Hey Nicole, I don't know if this answers your question, but you or may not have heard, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was amended this past fall to, among other things, explicitly cover people with diabetes. In the past it has been sort of legally uncertain as to whether any given diabetic was covered and had rights under the ADA, but now it's explicit in the law: we all have rights under the ADA if we have diabetes. The changes took effect January 1. I'm a law student and this past fall I took a class on disability discrimination. Under the ADA, if you are a qualified individual with a disability (which you are, officially now), you have a right to request "reasonable accommodations" from your employer. What is reasonable depends on the context, but additional unpaid time off is almost always reasonable if the situation is temporary, e.g. DKA, hypoglycemia, or doctor's appointments. The key though, is that you have to request the accommodation before it gets to the point of it being a negative performance evaluation. But in the future, if you get let go because your employer denied a request for a reasonable accommodation then you might be able to sue.
Here is a chart, notes I took from my class on the types of accommodations that are, and aren't, reasonable to request.
Here is a pretty good document on reasonable accommodations specifically for people with diabetes, but it was written before the amendments, so be sure to ignore the first two paragraphs, b/c it is no longer uncertain as to whether diabetes is considered a disability.