Managing Chronic Illness and Work

There’s is nothing scarier than going back to work; undiagnosed and still sick. 

So how do you get through work and chronic illness?

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  1. Whether you choose to disclose your illness or not is completely up to you. There are pros and cons to both sides. For me, I hid my illness, both in my work and personal life, for a long time. But there comes a point when that may not be possible and that’s OK. I’ve been honest with work with what I’ve dealt with. So far, this has helped me more than it has hurt me. It hasn’t made me stop fearing the possibility of someday losing my job or not getting promoted because of it. But what it has done is allowed me to be true to myself, not have to make up excuses for my behavior or absence, and gain understanding from my co-workers. I’m also eligible for accommodations to assist with keeping my job while still learning to manage my condition. What it won’t allow me to do is use my illness as an excuse to not be committed or do my job properly. And even though I won’t feel good everyday, and many days I may not have the energy to perform at my best, as long as I do the best that I can, than I have accomplished something truly great.

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2. While it’s obviously more comfortable and easier to stay in your pajamas all day when you feel awful, putting on nice clothes, doing your hair, and putting make-up on can do wonders for your self-esteem. The boost in your self-image will only help to increase your mood, decrease your anxiety, and improve your overall well-being at least a bit. For many of us dealing with chronic illness, the thought of all this work is exhausting and overwhelming. Just know, it doesn’t have to take you hours to get ready. Plan your outfit the night before, have a quick and easy routine for the morning, and maybe take a shower the night before. For me, getting up a little early to watch the news while drinking coffee before rushing to get ready gives me time to wake up, get an idea of what I need to do that day, and keeps me from having anxiety of the rush to work.

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3. Now, depending on your condition, this may or may not apply to you. For me, it’s probably the only normal thing I can tolerate. And I can personally thank Starbucks for keeping my weight at an average level, because about 600 to 1000 of my calories comes from them daily. You can call me an addict all you want, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have ridiculous amounts of fatigue. Plus, it enhances mood and is truly a ritual to get the day going.

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4. Probably the most important: The chronic illness survival kit.  C’mon, you know you all have one. Whether it’s on your bedside table, your purse, or in your work desk, there are just things we need to have with us all times. Here’s what’s in mine:

  • Mints – For Nausea
  • Medications
    • Daily Medications
    • If needed medications (for nausea, pain, headaches, heartburn, allergies, etc.)
    • Inhalers
  • Monitoring Equipment (Oximeter and BP cuff)
  • First aid kit (because being chronically ill also means chronically clumsy)
  • Snacks – For when I’m able to eat or know my blood sugar is low.
  • Water – A necessity
  • Coffee – Also a necessity (for me)
  • Cell Phone with Emergency Numbers
  • My Warrior Doll – To remind me that I am strong and everything IS going to be ok.
  • Chapstick
  • Pen and Paper – to write symptoms or any notes
  • Chewing Gum/Candies – Also for nausea

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5. Be confident in yourself and what you are capable of. I believe in positive affirmations. Read them or even say them out loud every morning. Keep a journal. Post them on your blog. Make a Pinterest folder. Be inspired and find your purpose for the day.

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 And Always Remember:

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