Landing your first big job can be exciting. You’re finally on your way to the career you’ve always wanted. But if you have ulcerative colitis (UC), you might feel anxious about managing your symptoms at the office without feeling embarrassed.
UC often strikes at the time of life when you’re embarking on a career. And its symptoms can have a real impact on your workday, and your ability to move forward in your profession.
In one study, nearly half of people surveyed said UC affected the type of work they could do. Almost 64 percent said they’d had to call out sick because of symptoms. If UC forces you to miss too much work, you might worry that you’ll lose your job.
Here are seven tips to ease your transition into the job market, and reduce the impact of UC on your career.
Starting on treatment as soon as possible after your diagnosis will ensure the best possible outcome, both for your condition and your career.
Medications like the aminosalicylates (5-ASAs), corticosteroids, and immunomodulators suppress inflammation and give your colon time to heal. Which of these treatments your doctor prescribes depends on the severity of your disease.
The goal of treating UC is to get you into remission. Once you’ve achieved that and your symptoms are under control, you’ll worry less about symptoms interrupting your work life and career prospects.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if you’re qualified for your job and can handle its basic functions, you have the right to ask for accommodations to make that job easier.
To find out which accommodations may be best for you, talk to a human resources manager at work. You’ll need to reveal that you have UC. Being honest will allow you to get the help you need.
Read on to get a few ideas for UC accommodations.
One of the easiest accommodations your company can make is to give you a desk close to the bathroom. This convenient location can be a real lifesaver when you feel the urgent need to go.
If you’ve lived with UC for any amount of time, you may know which times of day might be difficult for you to be in the office.
If you always have to use the bathroom after breakfast, it may be easier for you to have a late start time. But if you’re exhausted by mid-afternoon, coming into the office earlier and leaving by mid-day might be the ideal schedule.
Ask human resources if you can adjust your hours to accommodate. Depending on how you feel, you could opt for a later start time or work the afternoons from home. You might even be able to telecommute a few days a week, depending on your position.
Also, consider negotiating extra time off. It can come in handy if you have frequent medical appointments, or you sometimes don’t feel well enough to work.
You may not want to divulge your condition to everyone you work with, and it’s OK if you don’t. But it can be helpful to have just a few in-the-know colleagues you trust. They’ll have your back and cover for you when you need to run to the bathroom during a meeting or head home early.
If you only get a limited number of breaks each day, ask for extra time. You may need to slip off to the bathroom or take a quick nap, and you want to make sure someone is there to cover for you.
Breaks are also helpful if you eat several small meals each day, or you need a few minutes to take your medication.
Fatigue can make it hard to walk long distances. UC may not qualify you for a handicapped parking tag, but your company might be able to provide a dedicated spot for you near the front of the lot.
Having UC can be hard on a new career. Make the transition easier by asking your human resources department for the accommodations you need to get through the day.
Once those accommodations are in place, they’re not set in stone. Modify them as needed for the optimal work environment. Remember, the more comfortable you are, the better you’ll be able to perform your job.