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  1. Reevaluating the goalposts

    Wednesday, 31 March 2010

    It's a strange thing, work. In general, we spend the majority of our week there. I know I do. I was reading this post over at Olivejooice about work, and it got me thinking. I've worked a whole bunch of jobs since I was old enough to be legally employed. I've been a waitress, a dishwasher, worked in retail with clothes, jewellery, newspapers, toys, electronics, chocolate, and food. I've worked in a library, I've stuffed envelopes. I've worked for the Health Protection Agency. I've been a secretary for an estate agent. I've been an actress. I've been a professional viking, and a professional fake archaeologist. Oh, and then the job that I do now. I'm also sure I've missed a few off there, but I'm not going to go through old CV's to make sure I've got them all! I think it's clear though, that I've had a lot of jobs. I don't like being unemployed. I haven't constantly had a job, even when I was doing my degree. But it's not far off the mark to say that for most of my employable life, I've been working. So to say that I spend the majority of my time at work is probably true.

    I find it strange when people talk about their 'colleagues' or 'work friends'. To me, work is so much my life that most of my friends are my 'work friends'. And I love them. I don't know how I would have coped this past year if I'd worked somewhere else. Particularly if I'd still been working for my previous employer. I'm not going to name names publicly, but I could see my getting written up for 'not being able to work to standard'. I don't have much pleasant to say about that company. 

    But I feel safe where I work. Not only do my best friends work there, but pretty much everyone there understands that sometimes I need to do things a bit differently. Which I appreciate so much. For the most part, if they don't understand something, they ask. They know there are Glucotabs in my bag. That sometimes a really bad hypo can leave me sluggish, and if I'm trying really hard to chug a Diet Coke, it's most likely for the caffeine to try and wake my brain up.

    I hate feeling useless. I've been having (for me) some real highs as of late. I don't do double figures normally. But they make me feel anxious, jumpy, drained. I can't concentrate well. I get aggressive. When I'm low, I can be just as drained. I still can't concentrate. I can get weepy and scared. None of these things are particularly conducive to being productive in a worth environment. Of course, I'm always trying to control these numbers, and get rid of the highs and the lows, but sometimes that's just not possible. If you're reading, you probably know how it is (if you don't - it is difficult).

    I like my workplace. But as much as I do, I'm not going to work there forever. Eventually, I will want a new challenge. What do I do then? I have several friends online who have told me about being 'let go' because of their diabetes, or who just haven't been able to find work in the first place. Some won't tell a potential employer. It's certainly something to think about.

    I know in the UK I'm covered by the Disability Discrimination Act. This is interesting, because I don't like to think that I have a disability. Not that I have any problems with the concept of disability, but more because a) diabetes seems a strange thing to consider a disability, and b)I didn't think that it would ever happen to me. I guess no-one ever does. I've been told that, when applying for a job, if I say that I have a disability, in some instances I'm entitled to an automatic interview. I'm not sure how to feel about that. Do I look at it with the view of 'I don't want any favours, or pity. I just want to be judged on my merit alone.' or do I look at it as a foot in the door? I still don't know, as it's not something I've been thinking about for a long time. 

    I'd like to say that diabetes doesn't change my ability to work to 100% all the time. But I'm forced to admit that it's just not true. I find myself thinking back to when I was completing my undergrad degree (BA Hons Performing Arts, if you're not aware), and the sorts of hours I used to work, and the kind of things that were required of me, in order to get a good mark. I'll give you an example from my second year. I was rehearsing a community theatre show for my own degree. I was also working as Deputy Stage Manager and Lighting Designer and Operator for a third year performance of Jesus Christ, Superstar at the same time. That was what we did. You were pretty much expected to do both performance and technical roles for third year performances. It wasn't necessarily written in the course syllabus, but it was part of the way things were. It was how you got better opportunities. It was how you learned. How you got ready for your own third year shows. So the production 'week', which was really three days, went something like this:

    Wednesday day I had my own rehearsals all day. I probably got some food before going to see a performance of Sarah Kane's Blasted, which was in the main house theatre. After that show went down, begin the turn-around for Superstar. By the time the set is in, which is a LOT of heavy lifting, it was probably gone midnight. Then most of the production crew goes home, and myself and the Stage Manager begin rigging the lights. If you've never worked with stage lighting, these lights are heavy. Hanging them over a gantry, which has a low ceiling and about an eighteen foot drop, is hot, rather sweaty (sorry for the lovely mental image) work. We didn't finish this, but got told we had to leave because the theatre manager wanted to lock up, at about two thirty or three in the morning. I walk home, and after showering, get to bed at about four. Up at six, to be in by seven thirty. I think some food might have been eaten. More rigging, and trying to start focussing the lights. Go to my own rehearsals at ten. Break at one, but have to carry on focussing and trying to plot the lights onto the board. Back to my own rehearsals at two. Well, let's just say that I'm running on adrenaline and sugar, with no real break till gone past midnight again. Back again in the morning before nine. Show nights and my own rehearsals, until Saturday night, when we take it all down, and life goes on.

    Could I do that now? No. I don't know if I could safely manage one day of that. At the time, it was all something I could just power through. It was all part of the game, and was 'hardening me up' to actually go into the profession. And in my ideal world, I would probably still be chasing acting work. But it's hard to get, and I seriously wonder if I'd be able to get a decent contract now, if I decided to passionately pursue it again. I'm not sure I would. I don't think employment law is quite the same in the arts, since they can turn me down for a job simply because they don't like the shade of my hair.

    But does that mean I give up on the things I want to do? No it does not. Maybe I don't have good enough control to chase acting work again. Or maybe I've just gone past that point. Maybe I'll come back to it again. I just don't know. That's what's exciting about life really. I have my dreams, my goals, and my aims. I know what my ideal would be by the time I'm forty. I'm not going to let diabetes stop me doing any of the things I want to do. But it might be that I have to re-evaluate things a little. 

    The only person on this planet that can give me the ultimate 'no' is me. I'm not saying no.

    Oh, and in case you're wondering about the turtle, it was a present off our Education Assistant, Rosie, who left us today. She also brought in brownies. She carb counted out the recipe for me. Like I say - my work friends aren't 'work friends'. They're just my friends.

  2. 1 comments:

    1. olivejooice said...

      Sounds to me like you've done some interesting things!! Makes for an interesting life :)

      I remember seeing the disability act form in our Policy and Procedure manual at work and it listed diabetes, when I showed to it my boss to get clarification about that she rolled her eyes at me...still don't know if I'm supposed to fill it out or not.

      I could see how diabetes would affect you if you were performing, but I recently read an article in Diabetes Forecast about a ballerina with Type 1. She had some crazy lows dancing around onstage, but she still followed her dream, and kept on dancing despite the D.

      From what I can tell from your posts, you seem like a strong person! I believe that if you want to do something, Diabetes is not going to stop you. It might throw up some roadblocks, but don't let it get in the way of what you want!!

      As far as telling your potential employer about it...I don't have a lot of advice there. I started my current job without diabetes and am leaving with it, so I've never had to disclose that in an interview...I don't think they are allowed to ask you about it (here in the U.S. anyway.) :)

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