One of the most frequent questions we get asked is about working and how we navigate this world while living with our chronic conditions. While we wish we had a magic answer that would be a simple solution, we’ll share what we have leaned, how we balance our lives/careers and the best tips we have to offer.
Adulting is hard, but adulting while being sick makes everything that much harder. It’s just one of those annoying truths you learn to live with when you’re chronically sick. Before we started our blog, we both worked in your typical office building in your typical office park. We coincidentally ended up in the same building, be it unrelated and at opposite ends, it was a lovely comfort.
The first piece of advice we would offer is to be upfront with your employer about your condition(s) and limitations. This will allow your employer the opportunity to allow you reasonable accommodations to make your work experience more suitable to your needs. Things such as lighting, temperature controls, specific seating, etc. might seem like small changes, but these little adjustments can help you be more comfortable at work. This might also help give you the platform to start a dialogue with your employer to see if working remotely on some days is an option – which can be a BIG help.
In our experiences, if you try to hide a big part of your life, like a chronic illness it has a way of backfiring. Doctor appointments pop up, emergency tests need to get done and those days where you need to leave due to a bad flare up or migraine are unavoidable. Speaking up from the beginning puts you in a better light for when these issues happen. Having a chronic illness doesn’t make you flakey – it’s an unavoidable – but if you’re having to leave work or come in late when people aren’t aware of the real WHY it might put you in a bad light.
We were both VERY lucky in that our bosses were very flexible with us and we each had the options of working short days or working from home if needed.
Kate: I worked at Keller Williams and did marketing/Graphic Design for multiple real estate teams. All of my design programs were on my work desktop but were also on my personal laptop so I could work anywhere I needed to and would still have access to the material I was doing.
When health comes first and plays such a central role in your life, it can be difficult to balance other things that society deems important – a relationship, a social life & what we’re writing about today, a JOB. Obviously we all need to pay our bills, but the unpredictability of a chronic illness can be so consuming and so overwhelming that everything else has to fall second. And this is OK but 2nd place can still be productive.
Pick something that you are genuinely interested in and if possible, try to find a job with flexible hours in that field. Do not expect too much from yourself and do everything you can to set yourself up for success, be it high protein snacks, extra fans in the office or having the ability to work from home when needed.
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Dominique Pelkey says
Dang I just wrote out a long comment explaining my situation, but I don’t think it went through. Thank you for this article. It’s a great reminder and very helpful!