What would you do?

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ski bum
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Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 451
   Posted 12/18/2007 7:18 PM (GMT -7)   
I share a small office with a co-worker who tends to get sick a lot. Earlier this month, she had a stomach flu that lasted about 5 days with an upper respiratory infection going on at the same time. I was on Humira, Entocort and Immuran (Immuran was discontinued about 5 days ago) at the time and did my best to avoid being in the office the same time that she was there. I thought she and I were both "safe" for a while, since she had her share of bugs. Yesterday, she told me how "raw" her throat felt and today, she's back with a full fledged cold. She was sneezing and blowing her nose all day and was bundled in a sweater, like she had the chills. With every breath, I felt like I was breathing in her crud until after a few hours, I finally convinced her to pack up her stuff and work at home. I know she'll be right back tomorrow. I brought plenty of work home with me so I'm thinking of working at home tomorrow. I haven't been sick since I've been on Humira and I try to do my best to avoid exposure to colds and the flu. Am I being a paranoid germ-aphobe? Should I just sit in my germ infested office and listen to her sneeze, blow her nose and tell people how sick she is and risk getting her cold, and then fighting off an infection while I'm on immunosupressants, or stay home and deal with the consequences (i.e. people not understanding my "paranoia and thinking I'm a prima donna or wuss). I don't really care what people think in that regard, but I just wonder if I'm over-reacting. What would y'all do?
50 y/o F. CD dx'd Aug 05. Initially on Pentasa, then Imuran 125 mg. Started Humira (very reluctantly) on 10/24/07. Currently on Humira, Imuran and Entorcort. Hope to dc Imuran and Entorcort within one month of starting Humira.


belleenstein
Veteran Member


Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 1010
   Posted 12/18/2007 7:23 PM (GMT -7)   
Your co-worker is being insensitive to your situation and placing you in danger. Don't go in to work. It is a workplace safety issue. If I were her supervisor I would speak with her. That's what sick days are for.
Belleenstein:

30+ years living with Crohn's.


gumby44
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Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 4095
   Posted 12/18/2007 7:24 PM (GMT -7)   
Your concerns are legitimate! Have you explained that wity your immunosupressants that you are at high risk? If you have the kind of job where you can work at home then go for it. Can you sit in a more remote part of the office? You can't lock yourself up and hide from all germs, but being careful is important. Remember to do lots of hand washing! Stay healthy!
48 yr. old female, diagnosed with Crohn's Sept-Oct. 2007


Sway_79
Regular Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 47
   Posted 12/18/2007 8:25 PM (GMT -7)   
Ski bum,

I have had the same issue at my office. My cube mate came in with a cold (he's already used up all of his sick days and is on probation for it). With my immunosupressors, I got sick from it. Luckily, I was able to go on medication for it without too many CD conflicts, but it lasted for 3 weeks!! My doctor suggested wearing a "germ mask" at work, but since I have to talk on the phone, obviously, it's not the best solution in my profession. Let alone the geek factor!

I finally explained to my boss the severity of the situation with my "suppressed immune system". Although they can't force my cube mate to go home due to his attendance problems, they have tried to make allowances for me to work from home or move to another area if he's sick.

I would suggest talking to your manager just to see. As my boss said, he had no clue that "those drugs I take" would cause problems like that. :-) And it wouldn't hurt to talk to her either just in case she doesn't know that you have a suppressed immune system. I talked to my cube mate, and he even bought anti-viral kleenexes and disinfects his cube, etc. It's a small gesture, but he's trying to help me.

~Sway

FitzyK23
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Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 12/18/2007 8:33 PM (GMT -7)   
I ditto sway. You gotta let people know first of all. But second, people can't stay home every time they have a cold or bug. In an ideal world we all would but with limited sick days sometimes you just gotta come in. I would never come in super sick but unfortunatly most people are contagious BEFORE they show signs they are super sick. Id see if there is any way you could secure your own office or a more remote space or work from home. But in all honesty you would be working from home all the time if you stayed home every time someone was sick. I would save it for the extreme cases when your office mate is clearly too ill to be at work.
26 Year old married female.  Diagnosed w/ CD 3 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD.  Currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day, hysociamine prn, nexium, and ortho evra.  Good times!!!
 
 


ski bum
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 451
   Posted 12/18/2007 8:49 PM (GMT -7)   
My employer lumps sick days and vacation days together, so no one wants to dip into their sick days because it takes away from vacation days. Sway, what happened to you is exactly what I'm trying to avoid (as I'm sure you tried to avoid as well). It's really inconsiderate of our office-mates, but they feel they need to drag themselves to work when they're sick for their own reasons. My assistant is going to give me a heads up tomorrow and let me know what the sick alert factor is. If my office mate is still sneezing, coughing, spewing germs, I'll work from home. (She also mentioned today she had D too. Did I mention she's also a kvetchy hypochondriac?) I'll e-mail my boss and let him know what's going on. He's very accommodating and I don't think it will be a problem. As far as wearing a mask, I'd have no problem with my office mate wearing one! I don't think she'd go for that though. She's well aware of my issues, so that's why she went home today (after several hours of nagging). Thanks for all your responses. It's nice to know you don't think I'm over-reacting. If only I had my own office....
50 y/o F. CD dx'd Aug 05. Initially on Pentasa, then Imuran 125 mg. Started Humira (very reluctantly) on 10/24/07. Currently on Humira, Imuran and Entorcort. Hope to dc Imuran and Entorcort within one month of starting Humira.


sr5599
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 1202
   Posted 12/18/2007 8:49 PM (GMT -7)   
Having spent the past 2 1/2 weeks dealing with a cold (that my daughter processed in 5 days), you are not at all off-base! When I go to the grocery store I even use their antibacterial wipes on the shopping cart! People don't really "get it," but if it's explained your boss should fully understand your concerns.

broomhilda
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 1488
   Posted 12/18/2007 9:54 PM (GMT -7)   
You are not a germ freak! My father-in-law is in his late 70's, not in the best of health & lives across the US from us. I've already told my husband when he passes & we have to fly out there that I will be wearing a mask! No way will I get on a plane without one. Also, this weekend was spent nursing my young adult son who recently moved across the state and doesn't know anyone yet. He had the flu and fevers over 103 which we had a hard time bringing down. In 24 hrs we through him in the shower twice, iced him down once and went to the ER twice. All because he thought he was infalible he put me in a compromised position. While I didn't chastise him for it at the time...down kick 'em when they are down...he WILL get a "speech" from me about taking an annual flu shot! I carry antibactirial wipes everywhere, wash my hands often and don't visit anyone in the hopital unless they are on their death bed and I may miss the chance to say goodbye. You are being responsible for you and your family. The co-worker should STAY HOME or accomadations should be made at work for you. If you were disabled, the law would require accomadations now wouldn't it!
Dx'd Jan'06, 1st Resection 7/06, Predinsone, Humira, Imuran, B12 injections, Nexium. Secondary conditions: Psorasis, Acne, Fatigue, Joint Pain, Lactose Intolerant, gallstones, fibroid cysts, peri-menopausal.


ski bum
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 451
   Posted 12/19/2007 2:08 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks for the support everyone! I'm going on a ski trip in February. I may wear a mask on the plane, especially if people around me look sick. As far as my office situation, I stayed at home today and am getting a lot of work done. I can retrieve my e-mails, return calls and get my reports done just as well at home as at the office. I sent an e-mail to my boss first thing this morning. He was extremely supportive. He said to stay at home as long as I need to and they'll work things out at the office. I spoke with my office mate today and she said that if she feels as sick tomorrow as she does today, she'll stay home. I asked her why she went to work today. She couldn't really answer that. I would think the sickie, rather than the sickie's office-mate, should be the one to stay home. I just hope that I didn't catch her crud yesterday. I'm glad I stayed home today and feel very blessed that I have a flexible job and a supportive boss.
50 y/o F. CD dx'd Aug 05. Initially on Pentasa, then Imuran 125 mg. Started Humira (very reluctantly) on 10/24/07. Currently on Humira, Imuran and Entorcort. Hope to dc Imuran and Entorcort within one month of starting Humira.


FitzyK23
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 12/19/2007 3:07 PM (GMT -7)   
For all you flyers, my bosses wife is a nurse and she SWEARs by airborne before taking a flight. She says you need to use it a few days before the flight for it to be effective. Also, using a good nasal spray before and after the flight helps. Obviously it wouldn't hurt to wear a mask either but I can totally understand why you wouldnt want to. They are super uncomfortable and ugly. But if its the only way you can travel then to heck with it, do it! My friends dad had leukimia and went to her graduation while under going chemo. He had on a mask and latex gloves that he changed every hour or so. (Gloves are pointless if you wear them all day because you eventually touch your face with them and they are as icky as your fingers.) I felt so bad to see him like that but was thrilled he found a way to go. If only we could get a bubble like that movie 'bubble boy'.
26 Year old married female.  Diagnosed w/ CD 3 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD.  Currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day, hysociamine prn, nexium, and ortho evra.  Good times!!!
 
 


malakai
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 277
   Posted 12/22/2007 12:06 AM (GMT -7)   
You need to protect yourself and be honest with those around you. Unfortunately I work in the Pediatric Urgent care area of a hospital (I worked here before I got diagnosed). I wound up with a 20 day cold shortly after starting my imuran and after that day, I mask 90% of my shift when I go to work and knock on wood, through whooping cough (pertussis, TB, flu, and colds, I've been able to keep them at bay). I know like you it seems like you're being a germ phobe but you know the misery of a 3 week cold is. Technically it should be your coworker wearing a mask or staying home but you can't control them--you can only control yourself. I even have nurses that do the same thing here too--presenteeism=irritating. I wash my hands often and try not to touch my face AND wipe down my desk and telephone with antibacterial wipes during each shift. I don't drink airborne but another type of packet thing similar to it called emergen-c when I feel droopy and kind of achy and it usually is gone by the next day. It's basically the same thing. vitamins and minerals but it tastes different. Find what works for you and continue to do it. =0)

I think that is cool that your boss is being helpful and that you are given the opportunity to work from home.

Take care
Newbie - 35 yrs old Diagnosed: 08/03/07
Meds:
Asacol 3x day
Imuran 50MG 3 x day
Lamictal 125 MG/day for bioloar II


indigosunrise
Regular Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 497
   Posted 12/26/2007 2:56 PM (GMT -7)   

Maybe this is dumb question but what exactly do immunosuppressant drugs do to your immune system?  If you get a cold or the flu from someone do you get sicker than you normally would?  confused    Is prednisone an immunosuppressant?

I agree with you as well!  I don't like it when others come to work sick because I don't want to catch whatever they have. 

 


malakai
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 277
   Posted 12/26/2007 6:48 PM (GMT -7)   
  • Azathioprines (Imuran). These drugs disrupt the synthesis of DNA and RNA as well as the process of cell division.  That's why some of us lose our hair because hair cells have a high cell turnover.
  • In normal people terms (like mine), I believe what they do is knock your troops down a notch so your body is not attacking itself as hard as if you weren't taking it thus reducing inflammation and scarring.  

    I am told that you don't normally get "sicker" BUT you can get sicker quicker and it takes you a while longer to get over things than if you weren't taking them.  Also because our systems are weaker, we are more apt to catch more diseases, viruses, etc than a person with a normally functioning immune system.

    prednisone is not an immunosuppressant.  It is in a class of medications called corticosteroids. It works to treat other conditions by reducing swelling etc and by changing the way the immune system works.  As with other drugs it has side effects and some pretty nasty ones at that. 

    if you have any questions, you can either ask your doc or a pharmacist or even research it yourself by going to www.google.com.  you will find pages of articles etc that talk about it.  The sites I have found to be the most reputable usually have .gov at the end.  There is also the crohn's and colitis foundation of america http://www.ccfa.org/info/treatment/corticosteroids

    hope this helps


    Newbie - 35 yrs old Diagnosed: 08/03/07
    Meds:
    Asacol 3x day
    Imuran 50MG 3 x day
    Lamictal 125 MG/day for bioloar II


    indigosunrise
    Regular Member


    Date Joined Nov 2007
    Total Posts : 497
       Posted 12/26/2007 7:40 PM (GMT -7)   
    Thanks a bunch, Malakai!  I will check out those sites for sure!  :-)

    ski bum
    Regular Member


    Date Joined Jan 2007
    Total Posts : 451
       Posted 12/26/2007 8:09 PM (GMT -7)   
    The good news is - I didn't catch whatever it is my office-mate had this time. She's still not feeling well and went to the doctor today. She was diagnosed with a sinus infection. At this point, I don't think she's contagious. The bad news is - now my daughter has a cold. The fight against the cold germs continues!

    Malakai - I thought prednisone was an immunosuppressant. It does mask the signs/symptoms of an infection - the WBC doesn't go as high as it normally would, a low grade fever could be something more serious...
    50 y/o F. CD dx'd Aug 05. Initially on Pentasa, then Imuran 125 mg. Started Humira (very reluctantly) on 10/24/07. Currently on Humira, Imuran and Entorcort. Hope to dc Imuran and Entorcort within one month of starting Humira.


    malakai
    Regular Member


    Date Joined Aug 2007
    Total Posts : 277
       Posted 12/26/2007 11:18 PM (GMT -7)   
    I talked to a couple of co-workers and turns out it IS also an immunosuppressant (which is how it reduces inflammation) but not as much as say imuran or 6mp.  (I learned something new today too!)  the reason why I didn't think that it was is because when I took prenisone, it never was told to me as that and on my imuran bottle it says chemotherapy drug
     
    Ski bum.  Sorry to hear about your daughter getting sick.  Hopefully since you skated by your coworker, you can skate by this one too.  =0)



    Newbie - 35 yrs old Diagnosed: 08/03/07
    Meds:
    Asacol 3x day
    Imuran 50MG 3 x day
    Lamictal 125 MG/day for bioloar II

    Post Edited (malakai) : 12/26/2007 11:26:42 PM (GMT-7)


    mcleaver1969
    Regular Member


    Date Joined Jun 2006
    Total Posts : 267
       Posted 12/27/2007 8:01 AM (GMT -7)   
    I suggest keeping a can of Lysol at your fingertips (and anti-bacterial wipes) and disinfect your office space as much as you possibly can...plus wash your hands like a fiend...short of that there's little else you can do to keep your work environment sanitary.
    Marci, 38 years old, Rockledge, FL
    Dx with Crohn's disease March 2006, currently on bi-weekly Humira, daily 6mg Entocort, daily 2-3x 5mg hydrocodone (for pain), and daily 75mg Effexor, plus 3x per day heavy iron supplements for anemia


    oldcrohnie
    Regular Member


    Date Joined Feb 2007
    Total Posts : 123
       Posted 12/27/2007 12:41 PM (GMT -7)   

    I know how you feel - I stayed at work until the doctor called and told me to get to the emergency room!  I feel like no one at work believes how sick I really am - I won't go to work without makeup and all, and I'm not going out looking sick just to make it believable to people too ignorant to click on a website and learn a little about the disease.  Compassion?  Anyway, I am your age, and have learned that you have got to take care of yourself because no one else is going to.  Stay home when you can - your health comes first.  Support is only a click away . . . .

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