Now Reading
Being able to work from home helps me feel in control of my illness

Being able to work from home helps me feel in control of my illness

Woman sitting in bed with laptop

Imagine waking up to get ready to head to the office (even though the pain is debilitating) or realizing that the new medication you’re on has decided that NOW is the time to unleash its gruesome side effects. (Morning sickness without the pregnancy, anyone?) You struggle to get from your bed to the bathroom and attempt to down a coffee and eat something in hopes that it’ll give you the energy you so desperately need to endure yet another eight-hour shift.

Once you finally make it to your desk, everything you do is half-hearted. As you sit there counting down the minutes until you can get back into the comfort of your own home, you fidget and shift your body weight on an uncomfortable office chair that clearly wasn’t created with chronic illness in mind. As you get up to use the restroom for the sixth time in an hour, you notice that your co-workers are staring. But, at this point, you don’t care. When the clock finally strikes 5 p.m. you have one more battle to win: Your commute.

Does this sound familiar at all?

Living with Endometriosis has made my work-life hell. I’ve spent countless agonizing, tear-filled traffic jams and cattle train journeys wishing that someone would offer me their seat as I stood there pale and sweating. (My pain was apparently only evident to me.)

Sadly, today is no different. My new medication makes me nauseated. Every few minutes, I was forced to run to the bathroom. Drenched in sweat, I decided to go home.

I was upfront with my employer about my Endo journey from Day One and she’s been extremely understanding. (Past employers weren’t as accommodating.) So when the hot flashes hit and I had to try to swallow the pre-vomit saliva back down, I left. After telling my manager that I may be able to work from home, she said: “Of course! See how you feel, but take it easy.”

Fortunately, I can work from home when I need to and it’s made a world of difference. (Living with chronic illness means dealing with flare-ups and unpredictable mood swings.)

Some days. I feel fine. Some days, it’s a constant battle.

In May, I moved to London and started a new job. I left my friends, family, and doctor behind. Amidst the changes going on in my life, I started having trouble with the birth control I was using to manage my symptoms. Strange, because it’d been working perfectly for about six months.

Since then, it’s been a hard transition. Not only did I move away from home, but now I’m dealing with the side effects of trialing a range of hormonal medications. Thankfully, I’ve been able to work from home a number of times. (I usually WFH when I’m sans BC and dealing with the full force of Endo on my own.)

Being able to work from home helps me feel in control of my illness.

While I am able to work onsite (on most days), being able to work from home eliminates those hardships I mentioned earlier. Like the commute, for example. Then there’s the risk of bleeding through clothing (which happens more often than not for me). And let’s not forget about the industrial-strength pain killers + hot water bottle + fetal position combo. (That’s kind of hard to do in an office chair.)

When I can work from the comfort of my own home, my pain can be managed much more easily. I’m less likely to struggle through and underperform. Thanks to the flexibility my employer gives, my stress levels have been dramatically reduced and I no longer worry about using all of my annual leave on medical appointments.

I no longer worry about others thinking that I’m incapable of doing my job because I’m able to deliver results on my own terms.

Having a flexible work schedule has given me a more hopeful outlook on the prospect of living with chronic illness. It’s enabled me to get treatment and to rest and heal when I need to so that I can come back even stronger. It’s even made me more productive.

If you were to offer me a job without flexibility, I wouldn’t take it. Not for all the money in the world. My health isn’t worth it.

If you’re reading this and you’re an employer who may be able to improve someone’s quality of life, I urge you to do so. And if you’re someone living with chronic illness, please reach out to your employer or the human resources department. Even something as simple as requesting a more comfortable chair could change your entire outlook and attitude.

What's Your Reaction?
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll To Top