As an individual with type 1 diabetes, obstacles I have overcome have included incorporating numerous doctor related appointments into my days while accomplishing my job responsibilities and more. Balancing the need for food, insulin, necessary exercise and rest is a continuous obstacle which I manage. Obstacles to doing so include travel and work schedules during in-person meetings – especially if I’m presenting and have a high or low at that point in time.
For example, on one occasion I was on a business trip and needed to present in front of a large group of people. Unfortunately, my sugar levels were flying ridiculously high that morning and when it came time for me to present, I was not physically 100% with it. At that point, I hadn’t disclosed my medical condition, so what may have appeared to them like someone who wasn’t comfortable or prepared to present was, in reality, a person who was dealing in real time with the physical effects of high sugar levels. For me, that was an incredibly disappointing experience, as, had my sugar levels had been in control, my knowledge of the material and presentation abilities would have been clear to all.
Despite this experience, I understand why it’s tough for people to disclose. For instance, there was one day at work where I heard a manager complaining about one of her employees with type 1 diabetes who needed to have regular breaks for meals, etc. The employee wasn’t around, and she was extremely disparaging about the effect it had on her team to do their work in a timely manner. Overhearing this shocked me, not only because of the fact that it was inappropriate and blatantly discriminatory but also because it was totally judgmental and not at all understanding of the medical condition and (I assume) the fact that he was doing his job with the company sanctioned, needed accommodations.
I’m proud to work for a company for which inclusion is a core value and to have had opportunities to serve as a leader. Melanie Meehan Business Change Director, Anthem
That’s part of why I got involved with cultural groups at Anthem. As co-chair of our Associate Resource Group ABLE, I led the development and implementation of the ABLE Diabetes Committee to help achieve ABLE’s goals focused on career, culture, commerce, and community. This required recruiting volunteers to lead the projects and providing them with the support needed to be successful. Since launching the committee in 2016, we have engaged hundreds to thousands of associates in two Diabetes Awareness Month webinars and six Diabetes Rounds to educate on diabetes management and prevention. We have also provided over 500 volunteer hours in support of the American Diabetes Association Step Out Walks and Tour de Cure, which raised close to $10,000 in grants from the Anthem Foundation, and have launched diabetes-related focus groups to provide input on various commerce-related initiatives.
Since disclosing my medical condition, I have found it a lot more comfortable to work with my insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor when I am in group settings at work. Before disclosing it, it was challenging to find ways to address my needs without others noticing and asking questions. This has also provided me with opportunities to educate colleagues on my condition and devices.
I’m proud to work for a company for which inclusion is a core value and to have had opportunities to serve as a leader.