Thank you to Amy Tenderich over at DiabetesMine.com for writing an eloquent review of the new book that I co authored with Joan Friedlander, Women, Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend!
Her first line sums up SO much. She writes: “If ever two things were once considered mutually exclusive, they were career and chronic illness.”
Ain’t that the truth! FYI – Don’t be fooled by our book title – we do believe that this is a gender, race, religion blind issue for anyone. I don’t ever want to imply otherwise.
Many of you write and tell me how you like my stories of client’s issues and the problem solving steps we take. I’ve got a never ending supply. Here’s a recent one that fits the above.
“P” has been with a small, family owned business for 15 years. He’s worked his way up to be on the senior team winning awards along the way for employee — and manager — of the year, numerous times. He loves working and can’t imagine life without it.
But multiple sclerosis (MS) has hobbled him – literally. A few months ago, when he contacted me, he’d just cut back from 50-60 hours/week to 20 hours/week at his doctor’s recommendation. The thinking was that the long hours at work were making him too tired for his body to manage the MS successfully.
Not only did his boss agree to this, they agreed to pay him his full salary for one year. A great deal, no?
Yes – – but…
First, P is a “go to” guy who doesn’t want to be anything else – and it’s hard for him to accept this change. We can all relate to that, no?
The second problem is that everyone he works with (including himself) still acts as if he’s at work full time. So he’s even more “stressed” because he’s not getting the job done in the time he’s there.
P realized a new job description would help and asked his boss for one. His boss asked to speak with P’s neurologist. Unfortunately, his boss “misunderstood” the conversation and thought the doctor said that P can’t handle executive function tasks OR multi tasking – which just about describes everything he does.
P’s boss sent a memo to his co-workers saying that at P’s doctor’s suggestion, he’ll no longer be responsible for the same tasks. P was devastated and wanted to file for disability insurance rather than be “put out to pasture” as he put it or “keep trying to prove himself”.
What a shame! Here’s a scenario where everyone seems to have good intentions that still resulted in bad outcomes. Fortunately, I was able to speak with all parties — and explain to P’s boss that he can continue to those very tasks but only within the reduced schedule. The point the doctor was trying to make. We’ve been able to craft a more appropriate work description.
I tell you this not to “toot my horn” but to share how complicated these things are. P, who is a very capable guy, fully able to take care of himself in most situations, finds that disease leaves him feeling hurt and vulnerable and he’s unwilling to push for things that he might not have thought twice about in the past. And, those around him, trying to help, don’t necessarily understand this often vague and changing disease and how it affects him. I could bridge that gap for him -but how many people have someone like me to work with?
Although this situation has “ended” well, it left me wondering what’s to be done?
Chronic illness and career? Is it a joke?
Rosalind aka cicoach.com