I Have Crohn’s Disease and Resigned From My Job in 111 Days
Have you ever seen articles online that read like, "I make $150,000 a year and my rent is $3,000? I promise this is not one of those stories. However, this is a story about taking a job and having to choose health, sanity, and family over financial security. When I accepted a particular full-time job, it was everything I thought I could ask for. From salary to working from home, a great boss and co-workers, it met all the pain points...until it didn’t. Hi, my name is Jaime. I have Crohn’s disease and resigned from my job in 111 days.
If you want to punch me in the face for resigning, that’s okay, I do too.
The job that I took with Crohn's
The saying, “When something is too good to be true, it probably is,” didn’t hold water in the beginning. The majority of people I worked with truly understood the hardships involved with Crohn’s disease, and for the first time in my career, I felt safe.
It was also nice to bring in a decent salary and be able to contribute to our household in a very different manner. I began dreaming of home improvements, vacations, and paying off old medical debt on credit cards faster. A long-time weight lifted off my shoulders for the first time in a long time. However, it was replaced with another.
The negative shift in the job
Around the four-week mark, things began to shift. I broke my medication schedule and missed doses, as well as meals due to meetings overlapping. Not to mention, I had to choose between eating a sandwich with time built in for the bathroom or taking the dog for a walk.
There was tension building between my department and the one we serviced. I lost two employees in a short amount of time due to the people attached to the tension. I voiced concerns and upper management surprisingly took my concerns seriously and began to take action on them. Unfortunately, my body didn’t get the memo.
Areas of Psoriasis that were once healed began to turn red and the familiar burn and itch returned. Pains that I hadn’t felt in quite some time were returning in my belly. I began to cut meetings short, and sometimes sat there foot tapping nervously, and barely made it to the bathroom.
The fear of symptoms returning
Blood and mucus are not "my" normal. It hasn’t been for many years. When I woke up sick and in pain, I envisioned all of the health progress from over the past several years pass before my eyes. I tried not to spin out, but it was hard. I tried to picture worst-case scenarios and how they would play out.
On one particular day, my husband was off from work and overheard several meetings. They were loud and hostile. He sat in disbelief over the people I was dealing with. In between my runs to the bathroom, he would look at me and remind me I could end this at any time. But he wouldn’t do it for me.
I desperately wanted him to say I had to quit. He wouldn’t.
I didn’t want to quit. I didn’t want to resign. It didn’t feel fair. I loved the job, except for dealing with those two people.
Attempts to resign from work
By the fourth month, I had attempted to resign two times. I gave specific reasons regarding the two people causing issues between departments and how I canceled medical procedures. On my second attempt to resign, management offered a medical leave so that I could undergo the procedures. Management proposed that I take off while they worked on implementing changes.
Some of those changes started happening immediately and I felt they listened. Once again, I placed work before my health and delayed leave for another six weeks.
Then, on what would have been my last day before leaving, the two people who caused issues struck again.
Lucky for my husband (not lucky), who was home on one of his days off, he witnessed the same thing as last time occur all over again.
I looked at him and mouthed, “What have I done?”
Warning signs that symptoms were back
Over the next two weeks, I experienced increased warning signs that Crohn’s, Psoriasis, Psoriatic Arthritis, thyroid diseases were heating up. These were warning signs. In 2012, I didn’t heed them until it was too late.
At two weeks from the day I was supposed to start medical leave, I began to panic. It was a Friday evening.
I became fixated on how Sunday wasn’t far away, and Monday was right behind. By Sunday, I panicked about upcoming meetings scheduled throughout Monday with those two people. The panic attack lasted into Monday and I called out sick for the first time. I took anti-anxiety medication to calm down. It was frustrating because I hadn’t needed it since traveling at the end of last year. I didn’t need just one dose, I needed several. The panic attack lasted into Tuesday. At 9:30 that morning, I called HR.
It was a hard choice to resign from my job
I agonize over whether I should have started medical leave or held out until the second leave date was to start (August). Upper management announced my departure and blamed Crohn’s disease. I also agonize over that. The last thing I want is to feed into stigma associated with hiring those known to have a chronic illness like Crohn’s disease. We are not quitters. In fact, I think it's safe to say the majority of us work harder to avoid being stigmatized.
Yes, I have Crohn’s disease and resigned from my job in 111 days, but it was so much more than Crohn’s.
Have you ever had your Crohn’s disease used against you at your job?
Will you take our In America survey to help others understand the true impact of Crohn's and UC?