This year was a big year for me: I got my first real job, invested in my own place and was unfortunately diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
RA is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder that affects the joints producing severe pain and irreversible joint damage. Along with these charming symptoms, the disorder puts your immune system in overdrive and to counteract this most people are prescribed disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs – or DMARDs. These medications are not easy to take, sometimes wreaking havoc on your immune system, which exactly what happened to me.
I have an annoyingly strong work ethic and knowing I was going to get sick because of these medications made me cringe.
After I came to the realization this disease was going to be quite intrusive in my life, I made the decision to talk to my boss and my co-workers to make sure that they knew exactly what was going on with me and, subsequently, what would be keeping me from days of work. This was the smartest thing I could have done and my ability to speak freely in my office led to a sense of trust most people don’t find in the workplace.
The response from my co-workers was supportive and it not only made me feel better to have my workplace behind me, but it also made me feel better about the time I would inevitably have to take off work to get better. This led me to realize the supportive and unique way my workplace deals with people taking time off for medical reasons. Many people do not have this sense of trust in their office and haven’t yet figured out how to deal with taking time off of work for medical issues.