In June last year I’d been on Prednisone for a few months. I wasn’t sleeping. I could barely eat (yet I was still putting on weight) and my FTJ had just made me work harder than I’d ever have to work in my life. This coming from someone who works two jobs.
I stood outside the front door of where I spend most of my days and wept… I don’t get emotional and I have a strict policy of not crying at work (give them an inch and they’ll eat you alive there, something I learned on my second day, I think). I’d worked four 65-ish weeks for my FTJ in a row while my direct superior was away on various work trips and a holiday. I’d rolled out two major promotions alone, done all my work, answered the phone, done a lot of work for my direct supervisor, been talked about behind my back (by someone stupid enough to do it in the office next to me – my hearing is the only bit that still works right) and abused by various other people across the business. This all happened when I was the sickest I’d ever been and on a drug that was doing its best to see me undone. The worst part is they knew what was going on and pushed me harder. I was too unraveled to fight back then, all my strength was going into staying on my feet there was nothing left over to start a fight on another front.
Fast forward two weeks – I was excited to go to a bowling tournament at the last minute – a ring in. I went, I behaved (as in I didn’t party or drink) but my badly immunosuppressed body came back with a viral respiratory infection. I went into serious cortisol shock and needed to take a day off work. My condition worsened over night and when I woke the next day I planned on diving my car into a tree – just so I didn’t have to face work… I didn’t want to hurt myself but I needed a way out of work and in my sick, drugged, cortisol shock, pressured state. I was remanded in the custody of my Husband who didn’t think driving my car into a tree was a good “out”. I was lucky enough to have an appointment at my GI the next day – I lost it in front of him, first time ever (and last I’d hope), he grunted and said “I’m suprised it took you this long”. He highlight what a “problem” my job was – that a normal person wouldn’t cope with the conditions there… He wanted to give me a month off, I took only the rest of the week – but I should have taken the month. It was a wake up call to me, but losing me to burnout and serious illness didn’t ring any alarm bells with my employer. At the end of my ordeal (after the two promotions were rolled out…) I didn’t get so much as a “thank you” or a “well done” I got back stabbed by someone else and had yet another (in a long list) of poorly thought through fuck ups dumped on me. I got on with it – its what I do, I did however make some changes in my life.
I made a decision that I would never again put a job, any job, ahead of my health. Because – its just a job. I have still struggled with putting other people before my health – but I’m getting better. No one in this world is here to take care of me, if I don’t take care of myself I will just run myself into the ground – and by ground I mean literally.
I started to take my lunch hour – I used this time to run. Mercaptopurine has helped with the joint pain I had all through School – it’s helped, not stopped. But its at a level I can deal with now. It helped me clear my head, focus and get rid of some of the bad mojo the bitching from that place was filling me up with. Up until the time I fell ill with CMV it was my saviour – and the one thing that helped me get through dropping off the Prednisone.
Today I was told that because the business was doing badly we all needed to work harder – it was implied that I needed to stop taking my lunch (the only thing that’s been keeping me the slightest bit sane) and my breaks (next they’ll tell the girl with Bowel Disease to stop using the bathroom) so I can work harder for the company. A company which has treated my health and my struggles as a joke and which is made up of people who publicly disrespect me, bitch about me and talk behind my back (again – yes, they’re stupid enough to do it where I can hear it). To that I replied “See ya’ I’m going to lunch”. Let’s talk frankly about my workplace. I can name at least 6 people that do need to pull their head in. They bounce around all day (well – the bit of it they’re actually there for… they always turn up late and have lunch breaks of 1 hour +) talking and bitching about people… If you want to aim this new policy at someone – how about getting the employees who don’t work to put in a full day every so often instead of suggesting to me I need to work harder. I am fucking livered to think the person who runs the company, who has NEVER known what hardship is, expects me to pick up the other lazy peoples slack… to put HIS company before MY health. You know maybe 18 months ago I would have said “ok” sheepishly and did what was suggested. Today I say “walk a day in my shoes – then say the same thing to me. Experience what its like working in that building hearing what I hear, being bullied the way I’m bullied… being sick… then come and tell me I’m not enough”. Don’t keep threatening me… don’t keep telling me you’re going to take away the job that crawled inside my head and whispered for me to do things I would never normally consider… Just take it. Employ a healthy person – but I bet they wont give more than I did… because it can’t be done.
A year ago I wanted to drive my car into a tree so I didn’t have to go to work – today I know why I felt that way, and I’ve been off the drug that “apparently” made me think like that for more than 3 months. Perhaps it was never the Prednisone.
Today I say it publicly and confidently. I come before the job I work… any job. I will continue to put my health first… if you want to dismiss me for that, fine – but be honest when yourself and put the real reason on my letter.
You didn’t like the fact I was sick.