Rosaline Joffe has a new book out called, Women Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend! This great book is the perfect tool and source of encouragement whether you are:
Someone who has been recently diagnosed with an illness and wondering how long you can keep working
Someone who has not been working for awhile due to illness and is wondering if and when she should try to go back to work;
Someone who is ill and
even considering starting her own business and home.
And… men. Don't let the title prevent you from picking it up and reading it too. If you live with a chronic illness you may have noticed that these kinds of books are in short supply. Most of the information will be helpful to you as well.
I asked Rosalind a few questions about her new book and her responses are below. If you don't buy this book now, at least make a note of it or put it on a wish list so you can remember the title when it applies to your situation or someone you know!
Lisa: I notice from the title, that your book seems to be telling women that they have to keep working. Do you believe that?
Rosalind: I’m so glad you asked that. When Joan (my co-author) and I came up with the title, we weren’t trying to imply that everyone HAS to keep working. Rather – we want to be the cheering squad for those who want to keep working. It’s an accepted notion that chronic illness makes it difficult to keep working. It can get in the way of what you can accomplish at work, supervisors and colleagues don’t accept your limitations, loved ones have difficulty that work impacts on your limited resources. These things can weigh us down. This book has been written to give encouragement and tactics and strategies when you think it’s not possible or when you think you shouldn’t.
Lisa: Chronic illness often means that symptoms come up when we least expect them. Does your book address how people can decide if this is the time to push through this or that it’s better to “give in”?
Rosalind: I find that to be a big issue that my clients, people with chronic illness, who are invested in keeping and developing their careers. Interestingly, it is something that “healthy people” and chronically ill to face so you might think that it shouldn’t be such a big deal. But the big difference is that chronic illness symptoms are relatively frequent (in comparison with healthy people who get sick), it can take longer to get better or back to baseline, and failure to ignore symptoms and push through can mean you might cause real harm to yourself.
That’s why I’ve created evaluative tools for my clients to make this easier. You can find a quick questionnaire in the book, Evaluating Symptoms that Could Get in the Way of What is Expected, (in the chapter, Success in the Workplace). I also have offer a comprehensive guide, the Keep Working with Chronic Illness Workbook, http://www.cicoach.com/workbookpromo.html
that has a more expanded evaluation tool .
Most importantly, I’ve seen from my work as a career coach and my own experiences living with chronic illness how important it is to distinguish between tasks that might make you feel worse but that don’t cause you harm. Too often we medicalize pain or fatigue, making us frightened and more tentative than we need to be. On the other hand, we also need to listen to our bodies so we can make sound decisions based on all of the information.
This isn’t a simple process. Some people find it overwhelming. Rather than sort it out, they either push too hard until they cause themselves serious damage and have to call it quits. Others opt out of taking any “risks” and become overly cautious. I think that a middle path makes more sense.
Rosalind Joffe, founder and president of cicoach.com , is a career coach for people with chronic illness. She is co-author of Women Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend! and writes a blog, Working With Chronic Illness