Returning to Work or School After a Hospital Stay

For people with diabetes, spending time in the hospital is often something that comes with the territory of having a blood sugar condition.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average hospital stay for a diabetic may be as long as four days – during which a patient has to be closely monitored for various risks that can be caused by excessively high or low blood sugar.

Returning to work or school after a hospital stay can come with challenges, so it's important to have a follow-up plan that will ensure a speedy recovery.

Staying Safe

The primary concern after a diabetes-related hospitalization is to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Symptoms like nausea or vomiting might interfere with normal eating habits – and prevent medicines from working if they don't stay down – so it's critical to monitor your glucose levels frequently after a hospital stay.

Your physician or nurse can talk about more specific protocols regarding diet and medication adherence after discharge, but don't be afraid to ask questions – your well-being and safety might depend on it.

Make sure your employer or school is aware of any special needs you might have after you're released.

Answering Questions

One of the first concerns many people have after a hospital stay is how to address their absence with co-workers or classmates.

Understand that workplace laws protect you from having to disclose certain information about your health to your employer and that having diabetes entitles you to specific rights when it comes to excused absences or taking breaks to monitor your blood sugar.

Schools tend to have similar procedures in place.

If you're not sure what your rights or responsibilities are, contact your human resources department or your school's appropriate official.

Follow-Up Procedures

After your immediate physical health is stabilized, you'll want to have a long-term plan about your care.

You may need to schedule follow-up visits with your regular physician or other people on your medical team.

You also may need your family and friends to help you prepare meals or arrange transportation to and from work or school.

Outpatient diabetes education might also be helpful, which may fall under the category of an excused absence if it takes place during work or school hours.

If you run into limitations with your employer or school, make sure you're educated on patient rights and responsibilities. More information about this topic can be found on the American Diabetes Association's website.

Beyond your legal rights, having a good relationship with your boss or teachers may enable you to ask for more accommodations. If you're comfortable doing so, don't hesitate to ask for help – it will make life easier after your discharge.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Diabetes Self-Management, Cleveland Clinic

Image courtesy of Poulsen Photo/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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