Weighing a difficult decision on career, risk, and diabetes

I’ve been reading the unlimited discussions with mixed feelings because I’m considering some big changes in my life.

I’m considering changing jobs (and probably moving to Europe too!). I have a great salary and great benefits at my current job. However, it’s boring, and I feel like I’m stagnating. I honestly can’t emphasize how much I feel like I’m stagnating.

Have any of you felt anxiety about pursuing new opportunities that will be more fulfilling for you because you’re leaving a job with excellent security and benefits? I don’t think this thought would even cross my mind if I didn’t have diabetes. I’m pretty adventurous, and I’ve already moved across the U.S. for my current job.

I don’t feel limited by having diabetes specifically- more by ensuring that I have access to good benefits and quality of life. I worry about developing complications later in life and regretting that I don’t have access to the kind of benefits I do now. I also worry about not liking the new job and maybe struggling to get a new one. I don’t have a good support system in place with my family for a variety of complicated and sad reasons. I have friends of course, but that’s a little different.

I know we’re supposed to have an unlimited perspective, so I’m supposed to say that I can just pursue my dreams. Sometimes life is about balancing your needs with your wants though.

I’m legitimately feeling anxiety about this. I would really value constructive input on how you’ve managed similar anxiety if you’ve felt it. Please don’t be dismissive. I’ve highly valued the posts from Sam and Michel about managing without insurance, but I feel like this question is a bit different. Thanks for any responses :slight_smile:

Sorry I kind of hijacked your post @Beacher. It feels relevant though?


Have any of you felt anxiety about pursuing new opportunities that will be more fulfilling for you because you’re leaving a job with excellent security and benefits?

Without a doubt. Both my husband and I feel pretty strong responsibility to provide good health care for Samson’s diabetes – we could pay out of pocket for the day-to-day, but not the worst-case scenarios. We’ve both talked about getting jobs more related to diabetes, in fact, because we wonder if that would be more fulfilling –
but the benefits is really the sticking point. We have some friends who both quit solid tech jobs to travel around the country in a van and go rock climbing, and I am sometimes pretty jealous that’s an option for them (not the rock-climbing, but the traveling).

The only advice i’d have is to try to do a “What if/Worst case scenario” brainstorm. When I was super anxious about us buying a house my husband and I did this type of thinking process and it helped. We’d think of a worst case, then think of how we’d deal with it and still be okay.
For you it might look like:
Worst case: I move to Europe, don’t like my job (hate it! or do badly and get fired) – Then what?
I move back to the US. Then what? I can’t get insurance. Then what? Then I pay out of pocket for these supplies in these ways. What if I get really sick in this specific way? Then I do X.

My realization when we did this exercise is that even with really bad outcomes (whole economy tanks, we can’t pay our mortgage, mega-earthquake rips through SF, etc.), we realized there were still a lot of ways we could land on our feet. So when I start feeling anxious about how much money we’re hemorrhaging, I walk back through all these contingency plans and realize we have options. My guess is that you do too and that you’re a naturally resourceful person.

I also think that planning for the contingencies can really help. So for instance, have a timeline for how long you’ll give the job if you don’t like it, and what steps you’ll take before then so you can jump into a position with enough financial stability for you to take care of your diabetes.

Odds are you’ll never need to use those backup plans, and instead you’ll get a great work experience in a fabulous new country!

Also, while you’re in Europe my guess is that you won’t have to worry about the truly catastrophic issues – if you go into DKA or have some other more expensive healthcare issue, you can probably get it treated much more inexpensively in Europe than in the US. Though I’m not sure and it may vary country to country.


You have a lot of really good points @TiaG. The worst case scenario list is a really great idea. I think I’ll create one this week so I can plan ahead. Thanks for suggesting it! That might help me prepare financially for the move as well. I can set aside a certain amount for contingency situations.

I hope this is exactly how it works out!


Congrats on having options and planning for the contingencies.

I don’t have diabetes, but being the main bread winner for our family, I have all kinds of pressure on me to deliver.

When faced with a similar decision, i.e. stay at the sure thing company and be successful, or go to smaller companies and face uncertainty, I chose to go the small company route, and since then have been laid off a couple of time, participated in a startup that failed, and had to switch industries to stay in the town my kids want to graduate high school from. The more adventurous path, has heaped loads of additional stress into my life. Additionally, financially we are much worse off from the moves. That is to say I would be worth more money if I had stayed.

Personally, I am an adrenaline junky, and so the path of excitement has been great for my mental health. The period of more than a year of unemployment, was not fun, and the medical bills were very frustrating.

To sum up my thought - How do you handle stress?


That sounds pretty rough to me! Do you ever regret your choice? I’m sorry you had to go through that.

I’ve handled a decent amount of stress in my life, so I would say that I know how to handle stress. However, I don’t think I would handle stress due to lack of health insurance very well. This would most definitely not contribute positively to my mental health.

I was hoping that moving to Europe might actually assuage some of the stress related to health insurance that finding an alternative job here might have. I’d be moving to The Netherlands which is supposed to have an excellent health care system. I’d have to pay out of pocket for my Dex though.


@TiaG has excellent advice for you. Similarly, I made lists of my desired vs. absolutely needed medical supplies for diabetes before I took jobs overseas, and researched my options. I weighed what I could do without against the adventure.

I worked in Romania and had insurance so I went without my pump and CGM. The experience and low cost of insulin were worth it to go back to MDI for me. In the UK, I was covered by National Health Insurance, and the company gave me a private policy that covered the pump and supplies. A company in Ireland offered me a job and they included good insurance as well.

My current adventure is our planned move to Russia, where I have determined I can get everything I have here, except Afrezza and Dex. My cost would be $1000/mo - but I will eliminate much of it or go with lower cost alternatives. That will be about 40% of my income, but I have few other expenses there.

But like @Chris, I am an adrenaline junky. Your comfort level will have to drive your decisions.


I don’t regret my choice, but I am not stressed by money. I know that no matter how little my wife and I have, we will be happy and won’t look back at what could have been. If I was worried about money, or had a different spouse, then my choices have been stupid.

I did what was right for me, but recommend you continue to ask the good questions and you will find your answer.


@Katers87, I have also gone through a few similar moments.

Like @Chris, I came to a point, a few years after finishing grad school, where I had a choice between large corporations and the startup world. I also chose the startup world, and have been involved with startups non-stop since, that is about 20 years now.

As a single person, until I got married, I had always taken the riskier route. But, at the time, I was married, so this was a decision that my wife and I took together. I think like @Chris I had gotten bored with the large corporate world, and needed more rush into my life. But, in a family, things aren’t so simple. My wife and used some risk mitigation strategy across our two careers: that worked well.

Like @Chris, I have had many ups and downs: lots of startups don’t make it. The stress of no job is tough. The stress or no salary is tough when you startup. The stress of feeling the responsibility for a lot of people’s fates is tough when you are the CEO of a startup, even if it is not the first time, when you are not sure that things will turn out well. So, one part of the response is what @Chris mentioned: how do you deal with stress?

But I think there is also another part of that. To me, life goes in cycles. At some times in your life, you will be ready to take lots of risks. At other times, not so much. It’s like a wave: the peak and the trough. Some of it is driven by the hysteresis of your life (not the hysteria! Or maybe the hysteria too…) for sure, and some by many other factors. So, to me, the other aspect of the question is—what phase of your life are you into? Have you been playing it safe for a few years, and are you ready for adventure again? Or have you been living on the edge for a while, and do you need a bit of a rest from stress?

Finally, I agree with @TiaG on downside management. To me, the best way to deal with it is what she discussed: make lists of downside scenarios with mitigation strategies. If you can identify a good mitigation strategy for each, then you have little downside, and there is really no risk in taking the risky option :slight_smile: Easy decision then!


Depends who you ask. If you ask me, I’d say yes, it’s excellent and at a reasonable cost.


I hope you go!
I have tons of stress in my life (as my family has accused me of seeking it out). I’m a Type I diabetic and I think that for a kid from NH, I’ve seen my share of difficulties (Elilepsy, digestive disorders, a strange bodily magnetism to cars). They’re usually solvable, though.
Heading overseas to like would be fantastic and you might end up ahead of the curve. Plus, there’s an awesome way to make friends really fast. TiaG’s worst-case-scenario breakdown sounds super smart, too. That’s way too grown up for me, but it’s an awesome practice that sounds like a good move.
I have a friend who has duel citizenship (in US and CZ) and while she was over there, she would see things way before we had access to them here. I’m not sure if it was patents or the FDA or what, but she had meters that could read with a swipe along her arm with something like a scanner a couple of years ago. She used to email me about new things all the time, but I’m not positive of why she got ahold of things earlier there. It might’ve just happened.
I’m not sure if you have friends or family there, but it is really nice to know people there (at least by emails or Skype or however else). If there is someone nearby who will understand what’s going on if you end up dropping below 65 or if you ever need help getting to a medical facility on a Sunday afternoon, it takes a little bit of the stress off your shoulders. Plus, most friends rock.
This seems ridiculous, but I’m going to recommend using the Couchsurfing website. In all of my travels and hosting, I’ve made connections with adventurous people that will understand your wanderlust who have also been consistently caring and trustworthy. Their backgrounds and reviews are accessible online and you get an idea of who you are speaking with with Skype before you go. People that will risk having strangers in their home to sleep are usually pretty cool. Even if they’re not diabetics, often times you can find at least one person to meet for lunch after arrival. Usually, the couchsurfing community is super laid back and interested in what you’ve seen or done, what you think, and how you live. Being a diabetic is a pretty big part of that and they’re usually into learning and accommodating. They’re volunteering their couches because they like to be hosts, usually. It might make for an easier transistion and understanding of where the best pharmacies and hospitals (just in case) are.
The most important thing is to be sure to get a bicycle. They’re awesome.
Other than that, I’m not sure. I enjoy taking lots of risks and seeing where I end up. Just be (sort of) careful (as long as it doesn’t inhibit the fun part). Oh, jobs are super important, too, but they come and go.
I bet the Netherlands will be awesome. If not, I bet the countries around the Netherlands are awesome and you should check it all out.