I am very fortunate to have a job that I truly love. But it could not be described as a particularly sexy job. At least, not the regular-day-to-day-this-is-what-I-do-when-I-am-in-the-office side of things.
I worked in recruitment for a while and the constant buzz and thrill of the game was intense. We had an old-fashioned bell in the office that would be rung when we made a particularly lucrative placement. Working on commission meant that there were dollar signs in front my eyes all the time, and I measured success in thousand dollar increments. It was sexy because it was quick, constant and there were constant wins.
Now I have a job that is what I refer to as a slow burn. Things take time, advocacy efforts are often long and drawn out, and the wins are rare. But jeez are they meaningful and worthwhile when they happen! They shoot an injection of momentum right when and where we need it, and it means we very quickly acknowledge the win and then focus on the next issue.
Sometimes people don’t realise just how long things take. When the pre-election announcements about CGM subsidies were made, a number of people commented that we’d had a busy few months to make it happen. I couldn’t help but laugh. And correct them. That particular win had been over four years of hard work.
But we take the wins were we can and this week, we’ve had a win!
The revised Assessing Fitness to Drive guidelines have been released by AustRoads and the National Transport Commission, and it’s a good news story for people with diabetes.
You may recall that there were some real issues with the previous guidelines after the completely misinformed and confusing inclusion of a definition of ‘satisfactory control of diabetes’. An HbA1c of over 9% was defined as ‘unsatisfactory control. Whilst the Commission stated that the A1c value was intended as nothing more than a guide and a trigger to seek professional care, the reality is that many people with diabetes had their licences suspended with their HCPs taking the value as a cut-off point.
As Diabetes Australia consistently argued, there is no evidence to suggest that an elevated A1c makes a person with diabetes more dangerous on the roads. In fact, this focus on an elevated A1c was actually detracting from hypoglycaemia, which is something that does need to be considered.
In the new guidelines, the number has been removed which is an excellent outcome for PWDs. And added to the document is far more focus on impaired hypoglycaemia awareness and keeping safe on the roads.
This change didn’t happen because we asked nicely. In fact, it took four years – from when the last guidelines were launched and we started to hear of people with diabetes having troubles – for the change to be made.
It took a lot of advocacy: letter writing, speaking with people who had been negatively impacted, meetings and teleconferences, and revising documents.
This is what I mean when I say that my job is unsexy. All of the work that was done behind the scenes – the slow burn – is decidedly unsexy! But it has to be done to get the wins.
I’ll admit to doing a very quick victory dance when I heard about this particular win. But the celebrating didn’t last long.
Because there is so much more unsexy work to do. Until people with diabetes are no longer discriminated against; until diabetes stigma is something we only speak about in the past tense; until kids with diabetes in schools are freely given all the same opportunities as their peers who make their own insulin; until access – to drugs, technology, healthcare – is available to all, the unsexy stuff will keep happening. You probably won’t hear about it until there is good news, but the wheels keep turning and the fire keeps burning slowly. As I said in this post here, it’s the reason I do what I do.
I was a representative on the Diabetes Working Group revising the diabetes chapter of the new Guidelines. This was part of my role at Diabetes Australia.