I went into work on the Monday but was experiencing a few annoying pains. I took some pain relief to try and make it all a bit more bearable. A mixture of pains and pain killers made for a rather dazed day. I couldn’t focus on what I was doing. I was no real use to anyone but at least I was there. Nobody knew the extent of how I was feeling; so as far as they knew I was having an ordinary day.
Was this fair? Was it fair to ”lead” on my colleagues? Was it fair for me to be there? Stupid questions went through my mind all day.
At least if I’m at work, I can’t be accused of having more time off. Does it matter that I don’t get much work done? From a work point of view, having me there working at a 10% capacity is better than not at all. This isn’t great for me though. As a chronic sufferer, I force myself into work a lot, more than I probably should. We all do; we may feel pants, but we’re capable of dragging ourselves into the office just to please our bosses and colleagues.
On the second day I couldn’t make it to work. I was hurting too much and hadn’t slept well at all. I think it was acceptable to take a day off. I spent most of the day on the sofa in a kind of warm squishy haze after taking strong painkillers. There was no way I could have worked feeling like this. I was much better suited to sitting on the sofa watching rubbish daytime TV and films.
When the pain begins to die down though, you become exhausted. At times I was too tired to chew. I literally struggled to move my mouth up and down. It was so bad I struggled to eat a piece of bread. It’s hard to explain this level of exhaustion to anyone, especially work. The exhaustive side of the disease is difficult to explain and quantify.
There are times when you are so lethargic that you cannot think, move or anything. That is how I am today. From the outside I may look lazy but I really have no energy. I’m writing this with difficulty. My eyes want to sleep and my arms are heavy. The keys feel too heavy to push down.
After that last paragraph I had to take a week out from writing this. My eyes got so sleepy and my mind so cloudy that I had to give up. I have taken it easy and relaxed; although I did make myself go back to work after 2 days off.
Returning to work was difficult as people always ask how you are. I try to be truthful by saying, “better than I was”. I guess that statement is true, but it doesn’t mean I’m fixed or cured, it just means I’m nearly good enough to work. “Better than I was” means people chuckle and then leave you alone. I soldier on through the deceit. I like to pretend I’m ok. I probably do this to attempt to fool myself more than anyone.
I have to be pretty general when I explain why I was sick. I can’t say I was too tired. I have to say my Crohn’s was playing up. This results in a bored look from the person questioning me, so bored in fact that they just leave me alone. If I say I was too exhausted to work, they would respond by telling me how they are a bit sleepy. How can I explain that this is not how I feel? I’m literally exhausted. Too tired to think or even blink, I am not SLEEPY.
I struggled through the remainder of the week and made it to the weekend, where I recovered and built my energy levels back up.
I’m learning to feel less guilty about taking time off. Work took me on knowing about my illness. They knew I would require a few more days’ sick a year than most. I try to pull in some overtime to rectify my time off. In the past year I have got most of my projects in on time. However, you do hear some snide comments from management when they think no one is listening. Do I care? Yes a little, I am human. Will I let it get me down? No. There is no point.
Just before I go, I would like to share something with you. If you get tired at work, try not to drink caffeine as this can cause other problems with your bowels. Just get up from your desk or wherever you spend the majority of your working day and go into the toilet and just stand in there for 2 minutes. People are so used to us crohnies going in and out of that little room all day, that they do not find it weird. You can then take a 2 minute break without worrying someone is monitoring you. You can unwind in your natural home. Splash some cool water on your face or text your friend or loved one. It breaks up your day and gives you back 2 minutes. I find myself doing this nearly once an hour.