• benjamin massey

Working FIFO as a diabetic

In this post I will be diving into some of the issues i encounter as a Type 1 Diabetic working in Newman WA as a FIFO worker.

The past 4 years I have been Bouncing back and fourth between FIFO and Perth based work, but as of the past 18months I have found myself settled back in the mining game up north, Currently working an 8/6 roster (week on week off) as a Maintenance Technician for BHP which gives me a life style where I only work half of the year! Not a bad gig really.

Managing diabetes while working away has all ways been a challenge for me and still is, working shift work, 1 week of 12hr day shifts, then the next swing is 1 week of 12hr night shifts. The biggest struggle for me has been the unpredictable changes in work, going from flat out to sitting around and then the opposite, trying to dose my insulin at meal times in preparation for what the following 1 - 3 hrs has in stall can be a nightmare, especially when plans change.

(example) My afternoon is looking to be quite with not much on so I dose the complete amount of insulin for my lunch, then all of a sudden an emergent job comes through and the afternoon is now going to be flat out, but because I have dosed the full amount of insulin for my lunch, That has created a high risk scenario for Hypoglycaemia, and vice versa with dosing less insulin for a planned busy afternoon which then changes to becoming a quite afternoon, which results in chasing my tail to stop Hyperglycaemia from occurring, sometimes that tail chasing can continue on into the evening and overnight into the next day. And if the unpredictability occurs on multiple occasions all across the day then you have yourself a Diabetic nightmare.

to make it even worse, most of the work performed as a maintenance technician is quite remote to the nearest facilities.

The temperature up here in the middle of summer is something you wouldn't want to experience, high 45 - 50's and some times it will nudge over 50, as a diabetic with an insulin pump, the most common issue that I would encounter in the warm weather is my pump infusion set can start to detach from the skin from excessive sweating, there for it is critical that I pack spare Medtronic Mio infusion sets as an emergency in case the Mio detaches completely from the site. Having my insulin pump clipped on my belt also exposes it to damage and contamination in this environment, There has been a few instances where I have had quite a hard impact to my pump while working out in the processing plant. All the dust and dirt that makes its way into the small crevices on the pump wears it out really quickly and my new Medtronic 670G already looks well worn out...

Nutrition choices on offer at the camp is another un controllable to add to the list, everything is unnecessarily covered in oil or some kind of fatty sauce, the choices to choose from can be very basic at best. It would be very easy to create micronutrient deficiencies over time from the small selection and variety of food that is available, lucky enough I make a trip to the local Woolworths to get a few plant based alternatives to make up the short fall and maintain nutritional adequacy, at least for the 8 days until I return home.

The week that I am away at work I often find my diabetes management to be a lot worse in comparison to my week at home due to a few reasons, mostly the food on offer and total fat intake for the day is usually higher, from all the added oil and sauces, the diabetic rollercoaster definitely appears for the 8 days that I am away.

With all of these encounters that i face daily as a Type 1 Diabetic it can be draining, mentally and physically, and because of that I personally find it hard to focus and show up to work at my best. Diabetes is a pain in the ass!! but I am truly grateful for what it has taught me over the past 18years and I wouldn't change a thing.

Hopefully this post has created some more awareness and triggered new thoughts for the individuals that read this

thank you for tuning in.

piece out 🤟

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