Doing a Job on Me: Job Search on IBD
I’ve interviewed for a couple of jobs in the last few months. It’s a stressful process—for all the normal reasons of course, but there are certainly some extra considerations for people who live with a chronic illness… so many questions and concerns.
First on my list is: what it will be like to work in a new place? Most notably, will there be a restroom near my office? What about other places where I’ll have to spend a lot of time on the job? Will I be able to orchestrate my responsibilities in a way that still allows freedom to make a run for it when necessary?
Then there are all the questions about working with new people. Will I tell my new co-workers about my illness? How would I do that without seeming overly needy? Will they be accommodating?
Since these are job prospects, I also wonder about how to handle the application process. Even though I work in a different field, my writing talent and work with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation are the kinds of things I suspect employers would be very interested in… but in my resume do I mention my book and column about Crohn’s and colitis? Do I tell them that I’m a CCFA board member? Even if I don’t mention it, if they google me, they’ll find out anyway. Either way, will that make them curious about whether I’m afflicted? Will they wonder if I’d be one of those troublesome “sick” employees? Will it affect the decision process? Are they even allowed to wonder these things? I gather that in most places it’s not legal for them to make decisions based on disability or perception thereof, but that doesn’t mean the concept wouldn’t bear some influence, even in some small way.
Aside from the employer’s part, logistical concerns also weigh heavily. What will my new health care coverage be like? Will I have to worry about pre-existing condition exclusions? Do they have good GI doctors nearby? Are they in the plan’s network?
With all that in mind, through this process, I probably find it a bit more challenging than a healthy person would. But after about a year of applications, interviews and offers, I have finally landed on a position that I want to take. I’ve received an appealing offer and I’ve accepted it, quite eagerly. Now starts the next difficult stage… the matter of making it all happen.
Through the stress of the job hunt and transition, I really hope that I don’t end up with a flare. Turning your life upside down can be a great way to turn your guts inside out. I’ve experienced this before during stressful times, and few things are more challenging than moving cross-country and starting a new job. Sometimes I ask myself, do I really want to risk my healthy balance for a new opportunity? Weighing the stability of the known against the anxiety of the unknown might actually be the most difficult part of this process. But then again, I could even flare up in my current comfortable situation, so nothing is really as certain as it seems.
One thing is for sure though…my new employer’s toilet paper is definitely too thin. It turns out I’ll have to do some accommodating too.
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