The end of one chapter, the start of another (Part 3).
We ended “Life continues on (Part 2 of my story)” with the increasing pressure from my employer to quit, and being switched to a new biologic medication. The new biologic has been working so far. My gastroenterologist did have to increase the frequency of infusions from 8 to 6 weeks but overall symptoms have improved!
This didn’t really matter to the contracting company I worked for. To them I was costing them money and they wouldn’t have that. Add this to the fact that we did not receive vacation or even sick time and we’re looking at more stress than I need in my life.
Why did I tolerate this for so long?
To start off, I want to point out that I had always wanted to work for the company I was contracted to. In fact, I had applied to work directly for the company a few years prior, but thats an unrelated story. This company has a reputation for treating their employees, to include contractors, extremely well. Employees are expected to treat each other with respect, even if they don’t get along too well. Everyone is treated equally, from the top tier management to the maintenance guy who only comes in once a week.
Another reason is that I made some connections with some of the associates I supported. To them I was more than the “IT Guy” who helped them fix their computer or network issues. For some we were more than colleagues, we were friends. It is because of the associates that saw beyond the frequent restroom trips, the hospital visits and all of the other issues, I stayed. I continued to work for a company that I had begun to loathe and hate.
After months of coming home angry from the “conversations” with the manager’s, my wife did something I didn’t expect. She let me vent my frustration uninterrupted and when I was finished she said something that surprised me. My wife looked me in the eye and asked me, “Why don’t you just quit? Find another job and move on.” This shocked me because up to this point she had always supported my decision to stay. Now, my wife has and continues to be my beacon in the darkness, my sanctuary in the storm and my main pillar of support. She knew how much that job meant to me and hearing her suggest that I quit left me without words.
Once I recovered from the initial shock from this we sat down and talked about it. We discussed the pros and cons of staying at this job versus moving on to another. Unsurprisingly there were more cons than pros for staying, which at this time, I do not want to discuss but maybe in the future.
We, as you would expect, agreed that while I loved the job itself I shouldn’t stay due to treatment from management. I started applying to other positions that night. A few days later I received word from a family member that the company they work for was about to have an opening. I sent in my resume to their recruiting lead that day. I want to take a moment to state I had applied to this company around the same time I had applied for the job I was leaving. Yet another story for another time perhaps.
Within 48 hours of sending in my resume I receive a phone call from the HR department. We speak on the phone for about 45 minutes about why I had applied, and my previous work experience. About 10 minutes into the call it dawns on me that this is an interview over the phone! We continue to exchange questions and the end of the call is near. Out of fear I haven’t mentioned anything about the medical issues, and my wife who has been listening knows this. Just before the call ends my wife speaks up and whispers in my ear. She tells me, “Maybe they are different. You should talk to them about your health.”
When I’m asked if there was anything else I would like to ask or discuss I gathered my courage and took the plunge. Without being specific I mentioned that I had a chronic health condition that required regular appointments to include infusions every 6 weeks. I asked if that would be a problem. The response I received was surprising but welcomed. She told me that it would not be a problem at all and the company would be more than willing to make accommodations. With that, she said that I should expect a call by the end of the week. She told me this on a Wednesday.
Based on how things had been going since the diagnosis I did not expect any further calls. I mean, I hadn’t exactly had pleasant experiences since being told I had an IBD. Man was I happy to receive that follow-up call on Friday. They were actually interested in hiring me regardless of the fact I was guaranteed to miss work. This call was to set up an in-person interview with my potential manager.
I won’t bore you with details but needless to say, I got the job and put in my 2 week notice with the contracting company. Little did I know that the promise of being accommodating would be tested the second week on the job. On Wednesday of that second week there, I had some issues, symptoms if you will, that popped up. These issues included suddenly getting lightheaded, nauseous and unexpected bleeding. They weren’t too bad so I continued about my day and went home. The next day however was bad enough that I ended up contacting my primary care doctor’s office. Due to the severity of the symptoms I was told to get to an E.D. asap or they would be calling in transportation for me. Knowing that they weren’t joking, I complied and got myself to the emergency department, who admitted me into the hospital 10 hours later.
Another week long hospital stay
I kept my manager updated with the information I was willing to share. She kept reassuring me that I had nothing to worry about and told me to get better. The hospital ran the usual tests but also threw in a scope and tested if the biologic was working or if I was developing antibodies. No antibodies, other tests show no infections but some tests indicated a flare. The scope also showed more inflammation around the surgery site and new inflammation in other areas. Oh joy. When the hospital discharged me it was with a prescription for another round of steroids, which I’m still on, and more appointments. Even with the scope results I have been told I am in “medical remission.” As far as they are concerned the disease is managed well enough. Time will tell.
Anyways, as soon as I got home I texted my boss. She told me to get rest before coming into work. My manager is working with me to make sure my work schedule is updated to account for my appointments. I don’t hear any comments about my hours, the numerous restroom breaks or occasionally being a few minutes late. We’re working together to minimize any impact on coverage at work while also giving me the time needed to take care of myself. Do I miss my old job? Sure I do. Do I regret leaving and joining another company? Not one bit. While I am still dealing with depression, I am in a better mental state than 2 months ago.
If there is anything I hope you take away from this, let it be this; Put your health, both physical and mental, first. It’s not going to be easy, but you will be better for it. It doesn’t need to big anything drastic and could be something as simple as taking time off just to lounge around the house in your pajamas.
That’s it. This is the end of one chapter and the start of a new one. Thank you so much for reading.
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