Hi AnnaMam, thanks for your kind comments about my post. I just read your excellent blog. Lovely picture as well! Reminds me of my daughter when she was that age.
Really appreciate your question, you hit upon a really challenging area, namely how to manage relationships with colleagues, how much to tell them, and what to do when things get difficult. This of course could almost be a category on its own, particularly how to mange flexible working.
I wish I knew all the answers, but I can at least relate my own experiences which I hope help.
From what I understood from your post, you managed to agree flexible work, so this means you are able to go home if you feel unwell?
However, i also interpreted your comments as indicating that there is a lack of understanding from your colleagues about your needs. Dare I say, it sounds like some of them might event resent it.
This sounds so familiar to me. And really worth discussing on the forum, so really glad you raised it.
What you describe actually relates to the fact that people generally have a poor understanding of blood cancer. And as mentioned in the last post, fatigue is particularly hard for others to appreciate as it is mainly an ‘invisible’ symptom. So they probably do not appreciate that their comments are rather insensitive, but you can at least rise above it by saying to yourself that you are coping heroically with far more than just having a late night . Or even try to laugh it off. Or you could ask them how they feel next day, whether they are alright. You never know, perhaps they have something more serious going on which they are hiding.
So what is the big solution of dealing with colleagues? Well, I am not really sure to be honest. But one possible way is to be open about your condition. I see you have already done so, which is really admirable.
Though clearly this approach will not work for everyone. I can see both the benefits and drawbacks of being open, And in my case I have done a bit of both. For years I was almost entirely secretive. To illustrate this, I only recently told my daughter when I started the clinical trial. She was a toddler when I had my chemo, and while she was growing up we decided not to worry her. At work, I initially decided to keep it a secret and only really began telling a few trusted colleagues last year. But a lot of people know about it now, and I am considering also being even more open about it at work.
As your colleagues may not fully understand, I wonder whether it would be worth sharing some leaflet, or other appropriate information, which explains the challenges you face. As you probably know, there is a lot of such information available, from Bloodwise and other sources such as Macmillan who do some really helpful booklets. Or even a web link. Or perhaps you have already tried this?
It is really hard to know what the best approach is, and you can probably see from my comments I also had a hard time working out how to deal with colleagues. And then when I do decide to be entirely open, how best to do it? An email? An annoucment at a meeting? I decided against the latter as it seems a bit dramatic, so probably will opt for an email. And possibly next time when I ask for donations for my run, as it could also help the fundraising,
One thing I decided a while back is not to worry too much about it. We have other far more important stuff going on than to worry about what people think. As I am currently working from home due to joint pain and fatigue (and also a bit of self protection as a lot of people had coughs and in one case even a chest infection,very scary for us!), my boss informed me that a lot of people are wondering how I am (or perhaps wondering why I am not at work). My reply was that I gone far beyond worrying what people think. On the other hand it probably is the time to make an official announcement when I return to work. Inevitably some will understand better than others.
I think I would like to raise this topic further on the forum, and to tap into others’ experiences. This is the value of such a resource. One idea is to share examples of how people have told colleagues, what worked and what did not. Thanks again,as you see your question sparked quite a few thoughts and ideas!
Do post how things go with this and hopefully you can find something which makes your colleagues more empathetic.