I mentioned last week that I just started a new job. I am right at three weeks into it and it has made me think about taking your ostomy with you to work. It’s a big deal.
I have had three different jobs since getting an ostomy. I had quit my job before going in for my surgery, so I didn’t have a timeline that I had to stick to in order to get better and get back to work. About five weeks after my surgery, I started to look for a job again. I knew I wasn’t quite ready to get back to work, but I figured I should go ahead and start the process since jobs don’t usually just fall into your lap these days. I ended up taking a nanny job for a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old which I started right about two months after my surgery. It was a good job to start the transition, because I had a lot of flexibility. There were only two real issues I had, which were back-to-back days where I had a leak. At the time, I hadn’t thought about bringing my supplies with me and I had to go home both days. (Why I didn’t think about that after the first day, I’ll never know.) Fortunately, the first day the kids’ grandparents were in town, so they stayed with the kids and I ran home, just saying I had a small emergency that I needed to take care of. The second day, I only had the youngest with me, so she took the trip over to my house while I fixed it up. I never even mentioned my ostomy to my employers at first, but I eventually told them just in conversation, which came about somewhat naturally since they were both doctors.
Since then, I have had two more corporate jobs. Both of them I have been somewhat open about having Crohn’s and an ostomy. I had to at my first job because I was out for several weeks having surgery and I explained a little about what I was having done, but I kept it in our section of the office. I never felt that anyone treated me differently because of it.
Once I started applying for other jobs, I found that I had to talk about it in some capacity. As I would go into interviews, I would be asked about my somewhat sporadic work history over the past two years. I would tell them, in an effort to be honest, they I had dealt with some health issues that lead me to quit my job and I eventually had to have surgery, but I am doing great and back to 100%. So while I may not have explicitly said that it was due to Crohn’s disease and that I had an ileostomy, I think it was pretty obvious because most of my volunteer experience is with CCFA and the Ostomy Association.
Yesterday was three weeks to the day from my surgery. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been feeling good and ready to get on with my life, so I decided it was time to head back to work. It’s the first time I’ve been back since my half-marathon since I took off for Virginia and immediately went on to surgery the day after getting back home.
And so far it has been going OK, but I can definitely tell that I’m not back to 100%. Thankfully, I do have some flexibility with my hours and schedule, so it has made it easier knowing that I don’t have to jump in full force. But at the same time, I have a difficult time taking things easy in the first place. Plus, from a financial standpoint, I’ve been out of work for weeks and could use the hours.
I have made it through the past two days working a typical eight-hour day. I’m glad to work just two miles from my house, so I have the opportunity to go home for about an hour for lunch. That gives me a great opportunity to relax for a few minutes and unplug from the work day. I have noticed that about 2:00 I start getting pretty tired. Even the people I work with say they noticed me getting quiet around that time.
For now I’m basically playing it by ear. I’d like to be able to keep up the full days, but we’ll see if I’m still saying that by the end of the week. I know that I’m not going to be much use after work. The past two days all I have done is stick a frozen meal in the oven and sit on the couch watching TV. Even then, waking up this morning was really hard. I think I hit snooze for about an hour.
I have discovered that these few weeks after surgery can be some of the most difficult. By this point, I feel good and I feel like I should be able to do all of the things that I normally do. But when I try to do so, I find that I tire easily and just don’t have the stamina to do it all. I guess you just don’t realize all of the energy that goes into healing your body. My surgeon told me it would be a four-week recovery, but it would take a few more after that for all of the wounds to heal. So it may be a couple of weeks until I’m much fun again.
I have been doing some networking lately. I actually had really gotten into it last year, going to events about once a week, but the holidays and a broken wrist threw me off a bit, so I’m getting back at it now.
I have really enjoyed it so far and have met some great people. Many of these people have been great contacts and have even helped me in my job search. Just this morning I received an email from a contact I have made telling me about some positions that will be opening in his department. Others have been there to offer advice on moving this blog forward and engaging people online. And some have become friends, too.
I started attending an SEO meetup where I have learned more about putting The Stolen Colon in a good position on the web. In just a few months, I have seen a significant difference in my rankings. Plus, that knowledge can help me in a number of different fields.
Networking really takes me out of my comfort zone. I have never been good at just walking up to someone and starting a conversation. I am also not particularly good a chit-chat. Once I am in a conversation, I’m fine; I know how to keep it going, to ask appropriate questions and to not give one-word answers. But getting there has been my problem. Most of these events, I attend by myself, so I am forced to go out there and mingle. (I even made some awesome Stolen Colon business cards!)
I am also starting to figure out what are good networking events for me to attend. I have been to a number of different ones around the area, some that have been very productive and others that I probably would have done better to stay home. Smaller events seem to be more my speed. I get a little overwhelmed when surrounded by a huge crowd of people who all seem to be engaged in on-going conversations. I find that the more intimate events allow me to meet more people and not feel so lost in the crowd. However, regardless of the event, I do always try to make at least one connection at every event I attend. I try to make that connection someone who could be helpful to me or I could be an asset to them, but even if I don’t come across someone who fits that description, just making a connection is good practice for the next event.
I hate that I’ve been so absent lately, but this is literally the first moment I’ve had to slow down all week. It’s always amazing how you can have nothing going on for weeks, then all of a sudden, you have 15 things happening at the same time.
I’ve been working hard on figuring out exactly what I want to do and finding a good job. I’ve been trying to network with public affairs departments around the area and making sure that I’m heading in the right direction. That’s been consuming my day-to-day, along with doing research and working on my job application materials.
Also this week, one of my cousins came to town who I hardly ever get to see. Literally, it’s probably been about 5 years since I’ve seen him. Thus the mantra of the week became, “Twice a decade!” because that’s how often this happens. He’s working on his Ph.D. out in Seattle, so I guess that keeps him busy or something. But since he was here for only a few days, I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity to spend time with him and the rest of my family. So that included just about every day this week.
And to top it all off, today is my brother-in-law’s wedding. Jarrod and I are both in the wedding and we’ve been trying to stay on top of our wedding party duties. Plus, his family is in town from New York, so we’ve been spending time with them as well. This included the dinner that we hosted at our house on Thursday for about 20 or so people, the rehearsal and dinner last night, and of course everything going on today as we get ready.
Come tomorrow, I’m not going to know what to do with all of my free time. But today, we’ve got another busy day with a million and one things to do, so I should probably sign off from here and get to it.