Friday, May 14, 2010

The Unpredictable Nature of the FibroBeast

Oh my, yes.  I came across this blog post from a fellow chronic illness sufferer dealing with the unpredictable nature of her symptoms.  I sure can relate!  In addition to not really being able to plan a fun trip or event, I am now faced with the challenge of not being able to plan to be able to work on a regular basis.

I was out sick Monday and Tuesday of this week, due mostly to extreme and sudden nausea and abdominal pain and discomfort.  I am completely out of sick time for the year already, so I had to use vacation time for these days.  I was miserable and couldn't even work from home.  The previous Friday, I did work from home, unexpectedly, thanks to dizziness that prevented me from safely driving to work.

When I returned to work on Wednesday (still nauseous and in a plenty of discomfort), I knew I'd have to address with my boss the crazy, unpredictable nature of my illness and how it's been affecting my work.  I regret to report that I couldn't help myself from crying almost as soon as I started the discussion.  How embarrassing!  Here I was, talking about my job with my boss, blubbering like a child about my fears of losing my income and benefits.  I was powerless against those damned tears!  I tried to hold them back, but they overcame my efforts.

Although I worried the worst (that he was considering firing me for my absenteeism), he reassured me that he values my work (when I am able to do it) and that he has absolutely no intention of getting rid of me.  He was very understanding and handled the awkwardness that I inadvertently created.  The plan was to brainstorm a few job modification ideas that could accommodate me better.  These were things I never imagined would be available to me, so just knowing that he would consider so many options was greatly relieving.  We would regroup in a week or so to decide on the options we could agree on and move forward.   

The lesson I learned here is that I shouldn't assume the worst, but rather open a discussion and pursue the truth.  Worrying about stuff that won't happen is a waste of my emotions.  I am lucky to have an understanding boss and to work for a company that realizes the value of my remaining employed despite having to make special accommodations for people like me.  Thank you, kind employer!!

Have you had to make any special accommodations to be able to continue working with a chronic illness?  If so, please comment and share the strategies you have tried.  Tell us what worked and what didn't work.  I came into that conversation not realizing there were any options available at all, so it may help others to share ideas from real experiences.