My fiancé has been struggling to keep a job with the full-time job of managing his Crohn’s Disease. It’s a relevant concern for our future together. Will we be able to afford rent on a single income? It got me thinking: Peter and I aren’t the only ones in this situation. How do others do it?
I began asking around and surveying other IBD patients on what they do for a living, and how they manage it. Here’s some of what I found:
Meet Bethany: MRI TECHNOLOGIST
“Thankfully, my Crohn's has had very little effect on my job. I was first diagnosed after ending up in the ER with severe right lower quadrant pain and a fever. I had a small bowel obstruction at the terminal ileum. I've been very lucky to have FMLA for if I have an issue, but my disease has been pretty manageable. My coworkers have been great if I do have an issue. One manager has been great and accommodating, the other tends to ask me if it's really "that bad" and when am I able to get back to work. Gotta take the good with the bad I guess. With my job, having Crohn's also helps me relate to my patients that come in for an MRE. It's interesting to see how the disease affects each person differently.”
Meet Chloe: STUDENT MAJORING IN PSYCHOLOGY, PLANNING TO CONTINUE WITH HER MASTERS IN CHILDHOOD PSYCHOLOGY
“In the last few semesters I have missed a lot of school because the doctors couldn't quite figure out what was wrong (I didn't have the usual symptoms) so I was in and out of offices and hospitals a lot. I've started medication so it is getting easier and easier. I'd say my biggest issue is that I'm wary to go out with friends outside of class time to eat or do group projects because I am afraid that I will need to run to the bathroom or have stomach cramps.”
Meet April: INSIDE SALES REP FOR A PAPER COMPANY
“Been selling paper 21 plus years. No it’s not like The Office!”
Meet Jennifer: REGISTERED EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATOR
“I chose this profession before I was diagnosed but was having occasional problems. I have been in this profession for over 20 years. I was worried that no one would give me a job because they needed to count on staff being at work. Sometimes it can be hard having the energy you need to work with children when your gut feels like it's been in a boxing match. I've had to leave work because I can't stay out of the washroom. My employers are very understanding. Crohn's has not stopped me from pursuing a career that I love.”
Meet Elizabeth: GRAPHIC DESIGNER
“I wouldn't really say my Crohn's has inhibited me in this field, luckily. To be fair though, I haven't been there too long. Due to the nature of the job, and because my boss is extremely understanding and laid back, I'm able to work from home some days if I want to. I usually only do this on particularly difficult days since my job isn't physically demanding. This is my first job in my actual field, as I'm graduating college in December. Up until now I've only had part time jobs, and my Crohn's affected me a lot more in those jobs. I bartended for a year and a half before I was diagnosed and as my health started to decline I found that I simply couldn't keep up with the physical demand of that job. I left to be a receptionist at a massage therapy centre and while I was able to do the job better because it was less physically demanding, I would occasionally have to miss work due to being hospitalized, having doctors appointments, or being sick. My boss simply wasn't understanding and would often penalize me for things I couldn't control. I'm lucky I found my current job when I did!”
Anonymous: CHEMICAL PRODUCTION TECHNICIAN (OPERATOR)
“My job includes a lot of physical labor. I have UC, but it mostly effects my joints as of right now. It's controlled with Humira but recently I had a flare up and it caused me to miss about a week or two of work. I try not to let it get in the way of my work but when you can hardly walk or clench your fist it's kind of hard. I'm pretty open with my co-workers and boss about it and they're pretty supportive. My boss noticed me limping and having a hard time opening valves and pretty much anything else I was doing. He pulled me aside and told me to stay inside and not to hurt myself. I'm currently back at work, not quite back to 100% but I'm getting there.”
Meet Aaron: STUDENT IN MEDIA PRODUCTION
“I go to Ryerson University in Toronto. I have been looking into school after RTA (Radio and Television Arts) in the States but will have to be very conscious of where I look because I still get Remicade Infusions and, with the lack of healthcare there, that could be an issue. If I do go there I'd likely have to be close enough to home to be able to go back and forth often.”
IBD is such an individualized disease. It affects everyone in so many different ways that, when it comes to jobs, you have to take things on a case-by-case basis. Even with the small number of professions that I included above, it's clear that a variety of symptoms are a factor for different IBD patients.
Have a job success story that you want to share? Or have some advice on how to navigate the workforce with IBD? CONTACT US and we will share your story!