Monday, November 3, 2008

virtual book tour: Women, Work, and Autoimmune Disease

Today kicks off the virtual book tour for a must-read book, written by Rosalind Joffe and Joan Friedlander: Women, Work, and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend!

Rosalind writes blogs at Working With Chronic Illness and Keep Working, Girlfriend, along with her web-based business, CI Coach. All are wonderful resources for anyone living and working with chronic illness.

For today's guest post, I asked Rosalind to talk about the five best and five worst things a woman with chronic illness can do for her career. All of these ideas, and much more, can be found in her book, so be sure to check it out. Tomorrow, stop by fellow Migraine blogger Diana Lee's Somebody Heal Me for the next stop on the virtual book tour.


My Top Five suggestions for managing your chronic illness in the workplace

  1. Stay on top of the situation. When chronic illness (CI) symptoms are causing you to screw up in your job because of a CI, have a “sit down” with yourself and figure out what you want to have happen and what you can do to make that happen.

  2. Get help when you need it. When you can’t accomplish a task on time or on your own, shut down the self critic and replace it with the following questions: what do I need, who can help me best, and what should I say when I ask?

  3. Be mindful of how you discuss your CI. When you have to talk about your CI with colleagues, supervisors or people who work for you, keep your emotions to yourself (even if someone asks how you’re doing).

  4. Be as sure as you can be that you can do the job. When you take a new job, keep your CI symptoms in mind and be realistic about whether this is something you can do on your good days and bad. You’re not in the astrology business so try to predict the future. But you can base your best guess on what you know rather than fears or wishful thinking.

  5. Develop your talents. The best insurance you can have (and we with CI know that nothing is for sure) is to be the best you can be at what you do. When your talents add value, people will be more likely to support you when the CI is “acting up”.

My Top Five worst things you can do to manage your chronic illness in the workplace
  1. Incessantly referring to chronic illness and talking endlessly and mindlessly about living with a CI, will cause people to tune you out. When you talk about your CI to anyone and everyone who will listen JUST because it’s on your mind, people stop listening. Even worse, they can easily start to doubt that you can really be as sick as you think.

  2. Take a two week vacation one week after you return from a short disability leave. You could create bad feelings, Especially if everyone around you hustled to get your work done.

  3. Wait until you’ve screwed up royally over and over again before you tell your supervisor that you can’t do the job in the time frame it’s expected because the CI is getting in the way.

  4. Never volunteer for the extra assignment, offer to help others when they need it or do anything that shows that you’re a team player.

  5. Keep to yourself and fail to develop relationships with co-workers because you feel ashamed, guilty or worry that someone will discover you live with a CI.

Rosalind, president of (, is the coauthor of Women, Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend! and her blog is Feel free to reproduce or share the Top 5 list as long as you give her attribution.


Debbie said...

Wish I had known about the "Top 5 Worse Things" about 4 years ago. My migraines were at their peak; I had dr appts out the wazoo, and that was about all I talked about. It bit me in the behind 4 months later when I was fired.

Maureen Hayes said...

Good, practical advice that we sometimes forget in our illness. When I was still working I am sure I was guilty of shying away from others for fear they would learn about my CI or taking on extra work for fear I wouldn't be able to complete it. Rosalind makes some good points that I know I will mull over.

Thanks for sharing your blog with us today!


Laurie said...

Great way to discuss concepts from the book--live the best and worst list!