Ulcerative Colitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Are you a successful professional living with ulcerative colitis or chronic fatigue syndrome? Are you worried that chronic illness will hurt your career?
If your answer is YES, read on to learn how we work with people like you to be more successful in the workplace while living with chronic illness. The names and some details have been altered to protect client privacy. Susan lives with ulcerative colitis and chronic fatigue syndrome but her story could apply to anyone who lives with unpredictable and invisible chronic illness that causes fatigue and pain, such as fibromyalgia, lupus or pancreatitis, just to name a few.
Susan has lived with ulcerative colitis (UC) since she was a teenager. After getting her MBA, she worked in a multi-national consulting firm. The long hours and travel took their toll, and her ulcerative colitis became more difficult to control. As a result, she took a job with a software company, which meant a cut in pay and a decrease in job responsibilities. Two years later, she developed chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Some days, the muscle pain and headaches were so bad that she called in sick or had to leave early. She asked for a different job with fewer responsibilities and was reassigned. But she worried that she would be fired and feared that she would not work again if she lost this job.
What We Did
When Susan came to us, she wanted to figure out how she could take care of her health and continue to work. While she had learned to live with ulcerative colitis, she felt overwhelmed by this new illness and demoralized by the idea that she might not be able to work again. We started by exploring Susan’s integrated view of herself — as both a career professional and a person with chronic illness. Over time, she developed the capacity to appreciate her strengths and to identify and acknowledge her workplace challenges. This allowed her to be more resilient when the unpredictable flared. Now she was ready to define the work environment she wanted, particularly as she was considering starting a family. Susan developed short term career goals that were more realistic with her health and personal needs and created long term goals that gave her more options.
Susan did not quit her job. Instead, within 6 months of working together, she reorganized her current responsibilities to adjust to her limited energy and unpredictable health. She was able to develop and implement a plan to make her team more efficient and cohesive so that she could rely on others more. Then she spoke with her boss about working fewer hours over the next year and taking on fewer new projects. He was enthusiastic about this because it was in line with the company’s newly stated mission to provide employee-friendly policies. Although she continues to have recurrent health problems due to chronic fatigue syndrome, she confidently believes that she can manage her career so she can continue to work and create her own success. Call or email us and let’s discuss how we can work with you while living with intestinal bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, or any chronic illness that gets in the way of your workplace success.
Are you a successful professional living with multiple sclerosis? Are you worried that chronic illness will hurt your career?
If your answer is YES, read on to learn how we work with people like you to be more successful in the workplace while living with chronic illness. The names and some details have been altered to protect client privacy. Marilyn H. lives with multiple sclerosis but this story would be similar if she had rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma or any autoimmune disease.
Marilyn is a healthcare executive who has lived with multiple sclerosis (MS) for 10 years. She disclosed the illness to her boss soon after her diagnosis but never talked about it again. Over the past year, she became sick more frequently, and new medication had difficult side effects. She missed several important deadlines and had several reports returned with a note that they weren’t up to her usual standards. When her annual performance review included strongly negative feedback from her manager and a program for improvement, Marilyn was angry and scared. She went to Human Resources, complaining that neither her boss nor her colleagues were accommodating to her health needs. Human Resources told her that she could file a claim and document her complaints. That’s when she called me.
What We Did
“Denial” enabled Marilyn to push through the pain and fatigue, but it also prevented her from acknowledging her physical limitations when she need to do so. We started her program using somatic techniques, self observation and journaling to allow Marilyn to recognize and adjust to her health problems. Next, we looked at how she could apply her project management skills to develop the support strategies she so sorely needed. Finally, we explored how she could use verbal and non-verbal communication to be more effective in asking and getting what she needed. By increasing her capacity to listen to and respond to her body, and creating the systems and tools she could rely on to help her get the help she needs, Marilyn can expect to be the confident and competent person that she is.
Marilyn did not file a claim against her boss. Instead, after six months of our work together, her relationships at work were flourishing again and she felt more relaxed and happy. When she had a follow-up performance review, she received significantly higher scores and a commitment for the promotion she seeks. Call or email us and let’s discuss how we can work with you while living with multiple sclerosis or any invisible chronic illness that gets in the way of your workplace success.
Are you a successful professional living with crohn’s disease? Are you worried that chronic illness will hurt your career?
If you can answer YES, read on to learn how I work with people like you to be more successful in the workplace while living with chronic illness. The names and some details have been altered to protect client privacy. Jim A. lives with crohn’s disease but this story applies to anyone who lives with a chronic illness, including but not limited to: ulcerative colitis, sjogren’s or Hashimoto’s disease.
Jim has lived with crohn’s disease for 12 years. He had worked for a large advertising agency for his entire career and was a vice president, overseeing multi-million dollar accounts. Periodically, he became too sick to work and he took short medical leaves. But thanks to a successful track record and a solid support team, the disease never affected his deliverables. But when his firm merged with another larger company, his office was closed. Jim was apprehensive about looking for a new job because he worried about the disease and what effect it might have on his prospects. His doctor suggested he apply for disability benefits. But Jim didn’t want his family to live on that; nor did he want to be unemployed. That’s when he called me.
What We Did
Jim sought a coach who recognized the demands of his work environment, could help him see his career strengths and limits, and could understand the issues he faced with a chronic illness. Although he had learned how to take care of his health and had developed effective support, he he had never looked for a job while suffering from a chronic illness. We started by developing his capacity to look for work and to enter a demanding and unknown environment. We identified how his skills, knowledge and expertise would be valued in the current marketplace, which gave him a new sense of confidence and clarity. Together, we examined how the daily effects of his disease might impact his workplace performance. We then explored disclosure and communication. Now, he could think strategically about the kind of job and work environment he could realistically expect. Armed with this new knowledge, Jim updated his resume, developed a networking system and practiced his new-found interviewing skills.
Jim did not have to apply for disability benefits because he found employment within seven months. His new position didn’t offer the compensation or responsibilities he had previously enjoyed, but it did offer him prospects for growth and the flexibility to take care of his health. After nine months of working together, Jim was settled in his new job. He no longer fears that the crohn’s symptoms make him more vulnerable to unemployment. Call or email us and let’s discuss how we can work with you while living with crohn’s disease or any debilitating chronic illness that gets in the way of your workplace success.
Are you a successful professional who is living with chronic pain? Are you worried that this condition will hurt your career?
The names and some details have been altered to protect the privacy of my client. If you can answer YES, read on to learn how I work with people like you to be more successful in the workplace while living with chronic Debora A. has a history of several disc surgeries and lives in chronic pain. Her story could true for anyone who finds that not meeting expected performance levels means losing a coveted place on the career ladder.
Deborah, a senior partner in a law firm, has always been the “go-to” person at work. She is the problem solver and the one who gets things done. Four years ago, Deborah developed severe back pain and an M.R.I. showed she had disc disease. Thanks to two surgeries, she had more mobility but she had to rely on medication to manage the pain. The medicine left her drowsy and unable to think clearly. For the first time in her career, she missed meetings and cancelled appointments. She even lost a major account. When the firm’s managing partner suggested that she reduce her load rather than take on some added responsibilities that had been planned, she was concerned. Deborah had never spoken directly to anyone at her firm about the chronic pain. As single mother, she was the sole support of two children in college and loves her job. She knew that she had to do something proactive or her career was at risk. That’s when she called us.
What We Did
Deborah worked with us to develop the capacity to think about her work in ways that fit her current physical and emotional needs appropriately, so could be successful. Working together, Deborah was able to become more competent in responding to her body’s needs and to be more resilient in the face of difficult choices. She developed alternative approaches to work, learned to set appropriate limits at work she could stick to and, best of all, regained her sense of humor so others were more comfortable with her situation.
Deborah decided to campaign for the new role at her firm. She discussed her health status and acknowledged her health concerns to her boss and made it clear that with a flexible plan, she could excel in whatever new responsibilities might come her way. She delegated more responsibilities to others, and became more comfortable asking for help. She is not sure that she will maintain her current full time schedule but she has done enough “scenario planning”, taking her health into consideration, so that she her confidence is back and her anxiety is greatly reduced. After 10 months of working with me, she is calmer, feels more in control of herself and is getting positive feedback from others once again. Call or email us and let’s discuss how we can work with you while living with chronic pain or any syndrome that hurts your chances for workplace success. Still not convinced? Read articles, book reviews and media coverage of Rosalind and her work.
“Living with chronic illnesses for 30 years has taught me how critical work can be to health and well being. That’s why I’m committed to giving people who live with chronic illness the tools they need to be employed.”
Rosalind Joffe M.Ed.