What It’s Like to Work From Home With Type 1 Diabetes


 

Editor’s Note: The responses were gathered with permission via social media prompts shared on Beyond Type 1 and the author’s social media profiles. Thank you to everyone who contributed.


Are you considering working from home with Type 1 diabetes or already working from home and trying to maximize your routine? We asked our online diabetes community to share what they’ve noticed and learned about working from home so we can all learn from each other.

Of course, working from home is a privilege. Not every job function, field, or workplace allows for working remotely. If you fall under this category and are trying to stay safe while working from an office and managing a chronic illness, here are some best practice tips:

Even when there is an option to work from home, it isn’t everyone’s top choice. Amid the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has proven to be a positive experience for some people, while others miss in-person camaraderie and water cooler gossip.

Accommodations must be made for people living with diabetes who work in person, but if you are considering working from home, the community has shared some resources and tips to help you optimize the experience and improve your comfort levels. When asked what it’s like to manage type 1 diabetes while working from home, here’s what the community shared:

Schedule, exercise, and nutrition management

“Both my husband & I work full-time from home from all-remote companies. We love it! It’s the best way to work, and while I’m not shy about it, it’s much easier to control my diabetes in the privacy of my home. Healthier lunch options, more sleep, more frequent bg checks, low snacks, walking at lunch, and sometimes even napping on lunch!” – Christine Piazza Deppen

“Working from home actually helped me stay active. I purchased my very first piece of fitness equipment and used it almost every day, because it was the only way for me to recover from sitting all day. I don’t work from home as much anymore, but I’ve stayed consistent with exercising because it became such a routine.” – Carla Hopfinger

“I have been working from home as a Telepractice-Speech/Language Therapist for three years, after working 21 years in schools. It is so much easier to manage my T1 diabetes, there is no comparison. Working from home is absolutely the career for me, I just wish it hadn’t taken so long to find it.” – Julie Cimerol Starner

“There are both pros and cons to working from home with diabetes. For me, I really like being able to eat the foods that I have at home, that I know work well with my blood sugars. I have less of an urge to eat out while I am working from home, although Door Dash is nice sometimes. I also like that I don’t need to worry about being around people if my blood sugars are all over the place. I am notorious for being cranky when my blood sugar is up and down, and I don’t like slowing down when my blood sugar is low.” – Erika Szumel

“I get to cook my own food. Math, including carb count, is not one of my areas of expertise so I prefer cooking my own food and making sure that the contents and ingredients won’t harm my glucose management efforts.” – Mariana Gomez

“I am a customer service representative for an insurance agency in a small town. We are back in the office now, but while we were remote I definitely ate healthier lunches because I had the time and ability to make a salad or real food every day. I also enjoyed the freedom to do site changes for my pump or Dexcom whenever they were needed, versus when I’m in the office, I try to do them before or after work.” – Marsha Lloyd

“I love how working from home makes it easier to exercise before, during, or right after work. In the mornings, if I have less time for an exercise session, I can still squeeze it in because I don’t have to show up to an office all showered and prettied up. I save so much time in my day by not having to commute to work — and I use that time on exercise! It’d be a much tighter schedule, otherwise.” – Ginger Vieira

Prioritizing diabetes

“I love my work; it doesn’t affect my control. My A1c is 5.7, with 89% in-range time. I have no desire to work on-site.” – Sean Malahy

“I was diagnosed this year during the pandemic, and I think it has been really nice to be working from home while I adjusted to living with type 1 diabetes. I got to manage my sugars and inject insulin in the privacy of my own home, and I don’t get into tricky situations too often where I’m out and about without supplies, snacks, etc. I think it would have been a lot harder and more stressful having to go into the office at the beginning of my diagnoses.” – Marley Gieseler

“I am on the 670G system, and the CGM requires a calibration 2 hours after insertion. Working from home allows me to skip a morning meal so that I can go the 2 hours without knowing my blood sugar and have a good sugar when I can do my first calibration. In addition, working from home means I know I am protected against not only Covid but also against even the common cold, which could wreak havoc on my blood sugar.” – Michael Wargo

“Switching to my present job, full WFH, it’s been better, to be honest. I do miss the collective feeling, but it does give me comfort, safety, and definitely feeling better about meal times and doing my injections safely, although I was never one to hide even in public places, I think it’s not the plague, and we shouldn’t hide in doing our shots or checking our BGs. Overall, yes, I prefer WFH. Simply because working in my PJs – it’s awesome and I have better control over everything.” – Anna Tudor

“I got diagnosed this year (January 2021), and working remote was a blessing for my management! Learning how to switch my CGM, take injections, and carb count from the comfort of my home made an otherwise scary transition much more palatable. It’s also so much easier to manage lows when your fridge is only a few feet away! Very few, if any, downsides to it.” – Alexis Book

“I can test pretty much everywhere and I have no need to explain what my alarms are, nor what I’m doing. I also have all my plan B items close to me. I had a job once for which I had to commute for more than an hour, sometimes even 2. I once forgot my insulin and of course, it was exhausting and scary. Since I’m home I don’t have to carry a big bag.” – Mariana Gomez

Mental health and stress management

“Doing school online made me a lot less anxious about lows. When I was on campus, I felt like I constantly needed to be checking to make sure I could make it through.” – Abbie Gibbs

“I love working from home and dread going back to the office. I am managing my diabetes much better with less stress and no tempting junk food in the kitchen. I don’t mind not seeing my coworkers since we talk on teams all the time. Since I currently don’t commute, it saves me time, money, and wear and tear on the car. And I am more productive without all of the office distractions.” – Carol Fisher

“It’s been such a mix for me. When it was all WFH, my exercise went way down but I made more meals at home and had a whole lot of access to snacks. I was also a lot more stressed – my work doesn’t make the jump to remote very well. My A1C went up a fair bit. Now that we’re a hybrid, my hours are more consistent, but I’m bouncing around a lot. I don’t always have the time or energy to meal plan like I did before. I’m able to go exercise more easily, which has been huge for my physical and mental health. In short: I have no idea. Everything is hard. Was it this hard before? I can’t even remember.” – Brit Ratiani

“My own home business definitely has me eating better, stress, though still exists, completely different than job stress.” – Lynne Marie Jenrow

“I love having a break with my family. I love, love when my son gets here and has high school stories to tell. My emotional well-being clearly has an effect on my blood glucose levels, joy makes me feel always better.” – Mariana Gomez

“Working from home freed up space in my brain to deal with T1D management tasks that had been on the back burner for too long. I did some basal testing, ate better, and became more disciplined about changing my infusion sites. Most importantly, I found a workout regimen that I love. Turns out my best time to work out is mid-day. Wish I could figure out how to continue the mid-day workout.” – Hilary Bonta

Loss of structure

“Huge pro: my BG spikes calmed down due to the decrease in stress related to being in the office. I had more control of my eating too since I knew everything at home was: A) Gluten-free. B) Snacks were more of the low-carb variety. I also felt like I could leave to go for a walk or something without feeling guilty. Cons? Not feeling like getting away from work. I would 100% prefer to work from home.” – Erin Gilmore

“I’m in the minority here, but I would much rather be in the office all the time. I can’t stand working from home; I have no structure and am so easily distracted at home. I also tended to log in at 7 am and still be working at 11 pm at home when my office hours are 8:30 am – 5 pm.” – Sarah Willett Austin

“The negative side to working from home while living with diabetes is that it seriously affects routine, which in turn, affects diabetes management. I can say that I have gotten lazy with my management on some days, as far as when I’m eating, how much water I’m drinking, pre-boluses, etc. If I were given the choice, I would prefer a hybrid schedule – some days in the office, some days at home. I’ve found a good balance of working at a local coffee shop for a few hours of the day, and then home for the rest of the day.” – Erika Szumel

“Really handy for days where sugars need extra attention (e.g. problems with a cannula or lots of hypos that might make driving an issue), but I like being at the office more. Working at home can make me feel too isolated, so I try and go in when I can. That year of being alone made diabetes feel like it was demanding more of my attention all the time and got overwhelming. If I’ve got a structured work routine and a clear divide between work and home, I find it easier to stick to my exercise plan and am able to connect with others for a mental break, if only to remind me I’m more than just the numbers I’m trying to get right.” – Natalie Ann Holborow

WRITTEN BY Julia Flaherty, POSTED 01/07/22, UPDATED 01/07/22


Julia Flaherty is a published children’s book author, writer and editor, award-winning digital marketer, content creator, and type 1 diabetes advocate. Find Julia’s first book, “Rosie Becomes a Warrior.” Julia finds therapy in building connections within the type 1 diabetes community. Being able to contribute to its progress brings her joy. She loves connecting with the diabetes communities, being creative, and storytelling. You will find Julia hiking, traveling, working on her next book, or diving into a new art project in her free time. Connect with Julia on LinkedIn or Twitter.