Working whilst Chronically Sick

Day three of Crohn’s and Colitis week is about how I went about getting a job and trying to keep it after my diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis. If you have’t read about what it was like for me getting a diagnosis please click here. Let’s face the truth here is by the time I was 16 and had a job I didn’t really know any different as to how my life should have been without Ulcerative Colitis so I just had to get on with it because it was now how my life would be. So the next chapter in my life was coming to grips with working whilst being chronically sick.

You may not know my first job interview was done from my hospital bed…no I don’t mean just filling in the application but the guy hosting the interview sat by my bed asking me my interview questions! Did it help that the job was for part time hours as a catering assistant in the hospitals patients kitchens which were manageable? Did it help that the guy doing the interview was the manager of the department and my dad’s friend? Probably and I was really grateful to him for taking a chance on me and I worked there for nearly two years and made some really good friends over my time there. It used to be amusing when I was an inpatient we used to have slips that we marked off what we wanted to eat and as I knew the kitchen staff I would write notes or ask for special requests when it came to meals.

My next job was at Sainsburys and I didn’t really tell them much about my health and so when the inevitable of becoming an inpatient happened which was a good few months after being there I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. You always want to pass yourself off as normal or healthy or I do well scratch the normal bit I couldn’t care less about that! But I needed them to know there was a chance I could get poorly and I was on biologics at this point so I needed observing more than when I wasn’t on them. Again I was lucky that my line manager worked with me a lot so he knew I wasn’t faking it but |I would turn up to my shifts more than not. I was in that job for about a year before I jacked it in to go work in home care.

Initially the care company I worked for was amazing; they accepted that I was ill and nothing was really going to change that. I worked long hours with only one day off a week but I thoroughly enjoyed working there and looking after the clients. I used to get very disorientated when I was getting a really bad flare and one lady I looked after for many years was able to work that out despite my best efforts to hide it. A few times she would see me in the morning then ring the office in the afternoon just to see if I had been admitted. It was whilst in this job I had my jpouch surgery and even though I could have had three months off I was bored stiff and went back after 4 weeks; pretty sure I didn’t even get signed back on by the Dr I just rang one day asked for a phased return did that for one week then went back to 40hr weeks after.

I think that from experience you should be honest about being chronically sick for me it meant when things did go a bit Pete Tong I was covered by equality and diversity laws. Besides most chronically sick people want to be out working and don’t like skiving work or school because they spend so much time off with genuine sickness!

What has working whilst being chronically sick been like for you? Day 4 will be on what it was like dating whilst being chronically sick.

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