What about your diabetes and your job? Whom do you tell at work? When? And WHAT exactly do you tell them? And afterwards, are you somehow branded as damaged goods? All tough questions... not to mention the fatigue, frustration, and guilt that often accompany these issues. Couldn't you just use a personal coach here?!
Not as far-fetched as it sounds.
Four years ago, Rosalind Joffe of Newton, MA, launched a chronic illness coaching service called CIcoach.com. She's struggled with multiple sclerosis (MS) herself for decades, and is all-too-familiar with the challenges illness presents in the corporate world. I've penned an extensive feature story on her and her work in the newest diaTribe newsletter. Take a read!
In a nutshell, Joffe offers individual and group consulting on living with a chronic illness and the specific workplace issues it presents. To date, she's helped over 60 people diagnosed with an array of illnesses —- cancer, MS, lupus, Crohn's disease, and of course, diabetes.
From the profile, some nuggets of interest:
- "In reality, anyone with chronic illness is dealing with essentiallythe same stuff... But as long as we don't talk about it to ourbosses or others, nothing will be done about the problems peopleencounter with chronic illness until it's too late, and the person goesout on disability," Joffe says.
- "Some common missteps occur when people try to ignore their illnessaltogether, or simply attempt to 'charge through it' and perform as iftheir health didn't matter."
- "According to Joffe, very few people struggling at work due tochronic illness engage the Human Resources (HR) Department. HR simplyisn't trusted, since people assume its members will always have thecompany's interests in mind, and they may not keep the informationconfidential."
- "While chronic disease used to be considered an aberration, those daysare long gone. More than 125 million Americans — and 40% of Americansin the workforce — now live with at least one chronic health condition,according to the think tank Partnership for Solutions at Johns HopkinsUniversity."
Joffe has actually developed concrete guidelines on how to discuss your illness in the workplace, and ask for any special accommodations you may need.
Along these lines, she has a new book coming out called Keep Working, Girlfriend!: Women, Work and Chronic illness.
Keep your eyes peeled for that one, and get some very useful tips on thriving in the workplace, at her co-authored blog, www.keepworkinggirlfriend.com (not just for the ladies).