Holding down a job when you have a chronic illness can be really tricky. First, there’s the time you’ll need off for appointments. Secondly, there’s the fact that you’ll need more sick days than the average Joe. This can make going after your dream job seem impossible.
I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension the summer after I graduated from university. The world was supposed to be at my feet. I was planning on moving to London, where my friends were, with a cool, creative job. Instead, I ended up not working for a while … and living with my parents.
It was the right thing for me to do at the time, but once my medication kicked in and I felt a bit more stable, it was really important for me to try to get back into work. I was uncertain what kind of job would work for me, but in the end, I just decided to apply for my dream job and worry about the rest if I actually managed to get it!
After scheduling an interview, I started to worry about disclaiming my condition. Realistically, I had to tell them, as it is something that affects me on a day-to-day basis. All I could do was hope they would be accommodating. I waited until I had suitably impressed them in the interview and they had offered me the PR executive job (yay!), then I sent them an email explaining my situation.
I was extremely lucky in that they were very understanding. My boss had experience with chronic illness herself, so she understood that I would need to take time off for appointments, etc. I had to speak to human resources and come to an agreement about what would be a feasible working pattern for me. They also arranged for me to be able to work from home some days.
I know that not all workplaces are this flexible, but in my experience, if you are honest about your limitations and willing to work hard, employers can be more understanding than you might expect.
Having a job I love has renewed the sense of purpose and ambition that I lost after my diagnosis. Of course, a job with regular hours is not possible for everyone with a complex health condition, but working freelance or part-time or even volunteering can really help build your sense of autonomy and independence.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.