Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Having "The Talk."

It's always a tough call: do you tell your boss when you're flaring? There's no one right answer. It depends on your profession, your job, and (perhaps most importantly of all) your boss. I've been super-lucky to have fantastic bosses, so I've not had too much trouble with this question, but recently it came up again.

On the one hand, I want to be the professional, independent woman who doesn't let personal problems impact my work. On the other hand, that's total bull**** in real life. Finally the choice was made for me: someone else asked how I was doing, because I looked really "tired" (aka "like death partially warmed over"). In my mind, if a coworker notices I look sick, then my boss surely has too. So, it becomes a different choice: do I risk letting my boss think I'm a drug addict, or do I 'fess up to having central nervous system problems? I chose to 'fess up.

Have I mentioned I have had (and currently have) great bosses? My current boss was totally understanding, and even suggested using her pilates mat as a mattress to keep under my desk. I'm going to go with my backpacking air mattress, but it was a nice thought. I do realize that I am extraordinarily lucky to have a nice boss and be in a profession wherein no physical labor is required. But it's still hard to break down that cool, independent professional image enough to say, "You know what? I'm really freakin' sick." I can only imagine how much harder it is for people who risk losing their jobs over their illness. That risk is fairly minimal for me; it wouldn't look good in court for the group in charge of Chronic Illness Prevention and Control to fire someone for having a Chronic Illness.

I know many of you have had this do I/don't I tell my boss dilemma. What did you decide, and what was the outcome?


  1. My boss has osteoarthritis (well, when I was working still), so she is very understanding of my fluctuating and declining health. She was always been very open and flexible with office time, though the support groups are, understandably, always at a set time. It is really nice to work for great bosses who not only are understanding but appreciate the work that you do accomplish. I worked a summer at summer camp for a jerk kind of guy who was totally full of himself and quite abusive in his relationships with his employees. It was common knowledge among the staff, but a job is a job when work is scarce so they (we) put up with it. He made it difficult to accommodate my need for time to cook special food for myself because of all my food allergies, and toward the end of my time there he informed me of a change in my schedule, namely that my daily break (which I had been using to nap to make it through the afternoon) was now the time allotted for me to make all of my food for the entire day. I ended up getting very sick from being exposed to all the allergens in the air and in contact with my skin as I worked in the industrial kitchen. I quit, but not before writing a fairly scathing yet politely worded letter that told him just what a jerk he was and how horrible it was to work for him.

    1. Good for you for speaking up! It's too easy for us to just take jerks in silence, since we do seem to come across a lot of them!

    2. Found out through a mutual friend/coworker of his that he was badmouthing me after I left, but you know what? Who the eff cares?! I'm done with that guy and his nonsense, and I don't care if he smears me from here to Mars. I don't even belong to that denomination or subculture any longer, anyway.