I have to admit that before I started working at mySugr, I knew barely anything about diabetes. I couldn’t even tell if any of the people I spent time with had diabetes. Probably because it was a condition I didn’t really come into contact with much.
And I had no idea how prevalent diabetes was around the world. Did you know that worldwide approximately 1 out of 11 people are living with diabetes, according to Diabetes.co.uk?*
Now that I work at mySugr, every day, I see people with sensors on their arms. And being around diabetes is part of my day-to-day experience. I wouldn’t call myself an expert on diabetes by any means, but I’ve definitely learned a lot of new things in the past five months...
1. There are different types of diabetes.
Yup, not all diabetes is the same. Type 2 and Type 1 are the most common types. These types of diabetes have different causes and, sometimes, different treatments. In fact, there can even be different treatments within the same type of diabetes.
Especially because I am surrounded by several people who live with diabetes - three of them being part of our department (BÄM - Brand and Marketing) - I am learning every day what it really means to have to go about your day, while managing diabetes at the same time.
2. Diabetes is a full-time job.
I’m not only learning about problems caused by diabetes. I’m learning that people can live quite well with diabetes, if they look after their condition. Still, living with diabetes is like having a full-time job called “Diabetes Management”, in addition to everything else you have going on in your life. And this job has zero pay, or vacations. And it does not recognize holidays. To be precise: it doesn’t allow you to take a break, or to just enjoy your evening after a long day at (actual!) work.
3. Diabetes can be a pesky monster!
From time to time you just want to zone out and empty your mind. Especially of worries and negative thoughts. This can sometimes be really tough for people with diabetes. The annoying monster doesn’t let you rest. Instead, it likes to be the center of attention. I can recall a few times the monster ruined plans for a casual post-work get-together. Or when it interrupted an important meeting. Diabetes is a total attention hog. It doesn’t like to be ignored. The good news is that technology today is much further along than it was a few decades ago. We’re making big steps in taming the monster. Eventually, we want to reach a point where people with diabetes don’t have to worry about their monsters’ cries for attention. They’ll have a technological babysitter to deal with this stuff.
4. Living with diabetes requires a lot of discipline.
Discipline and self-control are a big part of life with diabetes. It’s rare that you get to make a decision spontaneously. A lot of the stuff you want to do has to be pre-planned and well calculated. That includes taking a snack in the afternoon or joining the Planking Challenge before lunch. There are no breaks, no days off, and your permanent companion can be a pesky monster. Seeing all this every day has helped me better understand why it is so important to work on improving life for people with diabetes.
Direct contact to users, via our social media channels, has helped me learn that working on digital solutions for daily diabetes management is really important and can positively impact the lives of so many people. On our Instagram channel, I’m responsible for the weekly “Question of the Day”, which often includes questions about diabetes. This is my chance to interact with colleagues that live with diabetes, and to learn from them.
We also have a weekly ceremony called Show & Tell (basically, a meeting with the whole company), where colleagues with diabetes share personal stories that help us empathize with what it is like to live with diabetes.
5. Diabetes doesn’t hold you back!
For me, as a person who knew nothing about diabetes before I started working at mySugr, it’s been thrilling to learn something new about life with diabetes every day. And there is so much to learn! What I’ve learned so far is probably just the tip of the iceberg. Situations that are completely normal for my colleagues with diabetes - like injecting insulin, or having to leave a meeting to grab some juice - really stand out to me. And help me realize how much work having diabetes is. The biggest, and most important, finding for me is that people with diabetes can do everything that everyone else can do. It just takes a little more planning sometimes. And the right therapy.
This is exactly why we at mySugr are working hard to support them in everything they do - to make diabetes suck less.