Working with UC....

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Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 63
   Posted 1/30/2008 9:07 AM (GMT -6)   
I'm wondering how many people make it through a work day with this disease...
I have currently been off work since Sep 07 dealing with this flare, I have started Imuran a couple weeks ago and have yet to see any major changes in my symptoms but I was thinking of going back to work part time (2-4 hours afternoons only).  I'm wondering how many people either don't work, work full time, or work part time. 
How do you deal with flares if you are working?  My big fear if I go back now is that the stress of being at work will cause symptoms to get worse.  What is the opinion of the fine members of this board do I go back and try to live with my symptoms at work or continue to sit at home and wait for the the imuran to kick in?
I also think I'm starting to suffer from some signs of depression due to being home for so long, this is also causing my desire to get back to work.  I feel as though sitting at home I'm allowing the disease to control my life but, the last thing I want to do is make symptoms worse by going back to early....
Currently in a flare since summer 07 - I need to get back to remission!!!
Current Meds: 25mg Pred, 2000mg salofalk, calcium supplements, Pantoloc, Buscopan, Clonazopam
Started 100mg Imuran Jan 15/08.

Elite Member

Date Joined Mar 2003
Total Posts : 10407
   Posted 1/30/2008 9:22 AM (GMT -6)   
I work full-time and have throughout the course of my disease. I work for a social service agency, and I'm in the office, so I can go when I need to, but the bathroom isn't as close as I would have liked. On really bad days, my employer would let me work from home all or part of a day on occasion. All of my co-workers know of my issues, so understand if I suddenly get up and leave a meeting. I keep a change of underwear, wet wipes and mini-pads in my desk for emergencies.

In my case, I needed to work for my own mental health. My work is part of my self-image, which was already damaged by the DD, so I was really upset at the thought of having to go on disability. Sounds like you may be suffering mentally from being at home. See if your employer will agree to let you try coming back part-time to see if it works out for you.
Moderate to severe left-sided UC (21 cm) diagnosed 2001.
Asacol, Rowasa, Pentasa, Prednisone, Entocort, Azathioprine
Colazal,  Remicade, Nature's Way Primadophilus Reuteri.
In remission since April, 2006. Remicade has been my wonder drug.
Co-Moderator UC Forum

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 2148
   Posted 1/30/2008 9:28 AM (GMT -6)   
for me, not being at work for a long period of time would stress me out more than being at work b/c I would be stressing about money (i'm in sales and get base + commission) and about my job....not being there to take care of everything. It's just me.

however when I was in my major flare, I don't know how I went to work, looking back, I was a zombie and pretty useless, just waiting for my next bathroom trip, I should have taken some time off but it was my first time dealing with it that bad so I did not really understand the full impact of what was happening to me.

coming out of that flare I had a period of time where I was still going 6 times a day and I just took it day by day.

Just do the best you can and try to make the best decisions for you.
Beth, 32
Major Flare Sept/Oct 07 ~ working on remission almost there
UC dx'd March 2000 (30 cenitmeters as of 2005-proctosigmoiditis)
Azathioprine 200mg 1xday nightly; Calcium and Vit D 500mg 3xday, Multi Vit, Folic Acid 400mg 2xday, Probiotics.
Minimal Change Disease (Kidney Disorder) Diagnosed Sept 2007
Prednisone 60/40mg alt days 1xday, Simvastatin 20mg 1xday, Diovan 160mg 2xday. Potassium 600mg 2xday, Fosomax 70mg 1xweek. MCD may be from hypersensitivty to 5ASA drugs.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 402
   Posted 1/30/2008 10:55 AM (GMT -6)   

I, too, work full-time and have throughout the course of my disease.  I continue to work for many reasons, including money/standard of living, health insurance, sanity, productivity, etc.  I refuse to let this disease get the best of me, and I didn't put myself through 7 years of college and law school to sit at home.  I am pretty stubborn when it comes to my UC!  :-)

That being said, work can be very stressful, so you are right to be concerned about that.  I work hard to manage my stress at work.  I did a post several months ago with tips of things I do to manage my stress at work.  I'm going to go back in and try to find it.  I think you might find it helpful if you decide to return to work.

Current Medications:
- Asacol (4 pills, 3x per day)
- Rowasa (1 enema daily, as needed)
- Folic Acid (1 mg, 1x per day)
- Calcium (600 mg, 2x per day)
- Prenatal Vitamin (1x per day)
- Iron (2x per day)

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 60
   Posted 1/30/2008 11:20 AM (GMT -6)   
I work full-time as well. I haven't really had a choice since I was diagnosed right after I graduated college and started temping. I was fired from my first temp job because I missed too much work, though I don't see how it could have been avoided. I had bloody D up to 20x a day and couldn't keep any food down. I probably spent half the work day in the bathroom. I was fired after I left work midday to go to the ER. Since then, I've temped a few other places and am on my way to being made permanent at my current job. Fortunately, they've all been low-stress office jobs (not reception) so I can get up whenever I need to. I try not to miss more than one day of work a month, even though I've been flaring (to a lesser extent) since I was diagnosed. I'm lucky in my current job because the bathroom is really close and my coworkers/bosses are very understanding. The biggest difficulty I have with working right now is that the Prednisone makes it really hard to focus and generally dulls my mental faculties.

But, I don't have much choice. I'm not sick enough for disability and I'm a self-supporting young person with bills and student loans. I think as long as your work isn't a high-stress environment and you have the freedom to use the bathroom when you need to, it's totally doable. It might suck some days, but you can do it.
Erin, 25
Dx w/ left-sided UC June 2007
(Flaring since June 2007)
Meds: Asacol 400 mg x 9; Prednisone (since 01/09/08) 20 mg 15 mg 
Supplements: Iron, Multivitamin w/ Calcium and Vit. D, Fish Oil & Probiotic Yogurt
Dx w/ Depression, GAD, and OCD in 2001
(Currently in therapy)
Meds: Paxil Lexapro Zoloft 100 mg

ioscan -fnk
New Member

Date Joined Jan 2008
Total Posts : 12
   Posted 1/30/2008 11:53 AM (GMT -6)   
I was diagnosed 11/06. I haven't missed a day of work yet because of UC. If I can get out of bed, I'm going to work. I'll deal with symptoms and energy levels when I get there. The same approach works for the gym, if I can get the energy to get through the doors of the gym, I will workout since I'm there. For me, most of the battle is showing up. The fact that I haven't missed a day feeds on itself and makes me want to keep my streak alive. More importantly, it is daily confirmation that I am winning the war against this thing and it can't control me which makes me feel better.....I also realize though that I may have a more mild case of this than most.
Going to work now when I can also saves any sick time and employer good will in the case that they are needed in the future so it actually causes me less stress to go to work.

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 25
   Posted 1/30/2008 12:36 PM (GMT -6)   

It is difficult working with UC.  I work in the busy office of a junior high school with approximately 700 students and over 100 faculty/staff members.  I've often been in situations where there is no privacy (restroom) available.  There is a staff lounge with two stalls for approximately 85 female staff members.  I will not go out into the halls to use student restrooms and the one stall in the nurse's office is so "germy" and busy that quite often there just isn't a stool available.  It never fails...if you're in the restroom "having issues" - in walks someone to sit down right beside you.  That little partition between the stalls doesn't give you any privacy!

I've tried to explain to my husband how stressful this disease can be.  It's not like you can pass gas whenever you need when you're working in close quarters with other people (the horrible smell alone gives you away!).  The longer you try to suppress urges the more uncomfortable you become.  I know many people just "let her rip" - but that's not me.  I am a very private person and this disease is extremely challenging.  I've always noticed that during school breaks I'm so much more relaxed - being at home with my own facilities and the peace of mind knowing that I'm in control of my surroundings.  Unfortunately we aren't in a financial position that allows me to quit work.  I have about 18 months left until I'm eligible to retire and I'm counting the days!  I will say that my coworkers have tried to be understanding.  I just don't think it's possible for healthy people to understand how UC can control and change a person's life.  

I'm proud of all of us that get up each day and just do the best that we can - whatever that may be. 

Ulcerative Pancolitis diagnosed in 2000
Colazal (6-9 daily)
Off and On Prednisone
Rowasa When Needed
Most Recent Flare: May, 2007
Probiotics - Reuteri

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 4506
   Posted 1/30/2008 1:04 PM (GMT -6)   
I had to miss about a month of work when I first got UC last year. I had just started a new job, too, so it sucked having to miss work right away. My boss and co-workers were not very happy about it. My first week back, I only worked part time and gradually increased my time there. Since I'm near remission now, I am back working full-time. It sucks, but I need the money and the health insurance. I wish I could work from home more often...I think that would decrease my stress level, but my job doesn't really allow that very often.
24 years old
Diagnosed with UC March 2007; yet to go into remission
Asacol 4 tablets 3x/day
Rowasa (generic) - daily
Nature's Way Primadophilus Reuteri 1/day; Chewable multivitamin; Metamucil; Viactiv (Calcium and Vit. D); fish oil

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 458
   Posted 1/30/2008 1:29 PM (GMT -6)   
I work full time in an office, so I can go to the bathroom whenever I want. Haven't missed a day of work due to colitis.
Dx:  UC Proctitis 2006
Meds:  None so far. Garlic works to ease flares. My GI laughed when I told him and said it was just coincidence.
Diet:  Regular fresh garlic, Biobest yogurt daily, Omega 3 supplements, very limited junk food, carbs and processed food, low fat diet.  Lots of fresh fruit and veggies (limited potatoes). 
Added: tumeric and probiotics.

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 312
   Posted 1/30/2008 3:32 PM (GMT -6)   
I work 4 days a week (Mon,Tues,Thurs,Fri), I was forced to reduce my week to this by my employers because of my UC.
Now I manage my work day by spending half an hour on the toilet as soon as I get up to ensure my bowl is empty then I eat one sandwich in quarters (about 7am, 12,00pm, 1pm, 3.00pm) and then when I get home (about 5.30pm) I have a snack followed by a full meal about 6.30pm. I have plenty of herbal tea drinks (usually mint tea). I follow this routine on work days, I've rarely had to open my bowel at work these days.

UC - Flare-up since Dec2004
3000iu Vit E Enema
3x3 tablets Colazide 
10mg Predinisolone enema
2  Predfoam - 20mg
Asacol - none now - became immune to them after 2 yrs

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2005
Total Posts : 6448
   Posted 1/30/2008 4:04 PM (GMT -6)   
I too have continued working all throughout this disease. I can remember when I was so sick and I'd be in a fog and have many bathroom trips until about 11:00, which I called my magic hour. Then it would lift and I'd start feeling better. My friends knew how sick I was and really stood by my side to help me out.

Remicade - will have my 20th infusion on February 21.
Imuran - 100 mgs....taken before bedtime
Vitamin B-12/Biotin, Probiotics

"Life is short -- make fun of it"
Co-Moderator for the UC Forum

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 196
   Posted 1/30/2008 4:16 PM (GMT -6)   
I had a flare several months ago, pretty bad, so initially I was calling in sick. Entocort helped me enough that I returned the next week, but my energy levels were very low, losing weight, and the rest... and I would just rush to the restroom when needed. I couldn't work more than 6 hours and just about every other day I had to call in sick or I would ask to work from home. My boss was very understanding and it even got to the point where he pulled me aside and said, "You know you don't look so well, even other people are noticing. Your help is the most important thing and we'll work something out, but do not feel your job is in jeopardy because you are valueable to us. I'm not tell you what to do, but we'll work something out." This was about 2 months in and it was a relief to hear they were on my side. I would have worked from home and could have, but because of policy it didn't work out. Instead I went on disability because I finally got to the point of just not wanting to come in--it was way too taxing. Usually I can overcome obsticles by not being mastered by it. But there comes a time when pride gets in the way and it is needed. I had not taken a "sick" day off for the 2.5 years I've been there, so I had that in my favor (I've only taken time off for colonoscopies, dental visits, etc.). I am back full time now and doing much better.

Numb78, I suggest you use the time off well by studying the disease and focus on getting better, as if it is your full time job. Also try to do little activities to prepare yourself, like being out of the house, going on a walk or something. This eased the transition for me. If you think you will benefit from working, then take it on slowly. I have to admit the time off (~3months) just about got the best of me, but it was a good time to get my life in order. Though I felt so much better to get back to work, be productive and around people--it does boost morale. Hopefully you can find a place that is understanding, with a nearby toliet, and nothing excessively stressful.

We should not be mastered by the disease, but should live with a healthy respect of it.
Pancolitis '04
Yet to ever go into remission, additional Flare-up since Aug 12th
Time off work since 10/17.  Returned to work on 1/11 and doing much better.
On Lialda (2/dy), Probiotics, Fish Oil, Folic Acid, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Borage Oil, Iron

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 528
   Posted 1/30/2008 4:27 PM (GMT -6)   
like everyone else who posted, I too work full-time. I was in grad school when I was diagnosed and during that flare I missed about 2 weeks of school, but I haven't missed a day of work since starting my job in may. right now I use the bathroom about 8 times a day whoch means I definitely leave in the middle of meetings or whatever. the people I work with all know about my UC, so we just leave well enough alone. I think my office is pretty happy with my work, so they try to be accomodating of my needs. so, if I have a long doctor's appointment, they don't care as long as I get my work done. like judy, I just keep emergency supplies in my car (though I have never needed them) and am a MANIAC about hand sanitizer at the office. I also make sure I sleep enough and exercise regularly. I feel that i have to live my life to the fullest on the days when I can so even right now, while I am smoldering and fighting a flare, I try to lead as normal a life as possible. otherwise I would freak out and become totally depressed.
Pancolitis dx 3/07
9 Colazal a day (was on 12 Asacol/day, but suddenly got sick from it)
150mg Imuran/day (steroid dependent, reached this dose 9/07)
Various vitamins, bit of fish oil, a probiotic.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2008
Total Posts : 381
   Posted 1/30/2008 4:37 PM (GMT -6)   
If you have a supportive boss who doesn't mind that you are out for a while, then you might want to consider taking it easy and not working.
I am a high school English teacher and department chair for 30 teachers. This year I have missed 8 days due to UC. I was in the hospital for 5 days and then three days I was home very sick during another flare. Other than that, I make it to work.
It hasn't been easy-not like I can just leave the students to go. When it is a really bad flare, I make sure not to eat anything or drink anything until I get home. If I absolutely have to go- I would call my neighbor and let him know to keep an eye on my students.  One time I didn't make it entirely on time. Luckily, there was no one around to see the accident.
Like someone said, I don't know how I made it some days. I have very supportive people at work that know about my disease and help me out.
Thankfully, I have been feeling much better for the past three weeks.
Jackie 42yr. old
Pancolitis - dx Jan. 07
Remicade- 4th infusion feb. 5th,
Lialda 2 tabs 2x a day,
Rowasa- nightly,
Protonix, 6MP,
Prednisone - tapered to 15 mg,
Lexapro, Synthroid

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 124
   Posted 1/30/2008 4:52 PM (GMT -6)   
I've been off since being diagnosed in Nov. I am desperate to get back to work but they won't let me (Docs & bosses). I'm a cop so it would be 'interesting' trying to do my job in a huge flare.....which I'm still in:-(
Diagnosed Indeterminate Colitis 25/11/2007 (update: told by consultant 15/01/08 in his opinion definitely UC). 1 x Solofalk Enema/day 40mg Prednisolone 35mg Prednisolone 30mg Prednisolone 20mg Prednisolone 25mg Prednisolone 20mg Prednisolone 15mg Prednisolone 4g Pentasa/day

Taken off Pentasa and now on 15mg Prednisolone, Omeprazole 20mg, 2 x Calcium Adcal D3, and started 50mg Azathioprine/Imuran.

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