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IBS & Work Accomodations?

work travel ADA IBS-M IBS-A job stress anxiety

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#1 SheLikesCats

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Posted 03 February 2015 - 05:49 PM

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Hey All,

 

I need some advice as I find myself in a predicament. I started my current job three years ago before my IBS kicked in. Within six months I was having chronic stomach issues (pain, cramps, etc). Tests ruled out IBD, celiacs, and many others so I was slapped with the IBS diagnosis. I kept myself in remission during 2013 with a strict gluten free diet. My job began requiring up to 50% travel, but many of the places I went had gluten free options so all was well. Last year things took a turn for the worst. I traveled three weeks back to back and my symptoms were worse than anything I had experienced - except for the stomach flu. It has been a slow road to recovery. I have found a few things that are triggers for my when it comes to diet (fructans and fructose), but otherwise my IBS flares without reason. However I am unwell to some extent most days. If it isn't IBS, then it is my GERD acting up. I have tried anti-spasmodics (which cause C), probiotics (which usually don't do much), anti-diarrheals (which create C), and Colace/miralax for C (which can cause D if I am not careful). My pain is definitely tied to gas, which can be modified by diet. My IBS is variable in nature, I can have a week of D, then a month of C. But sometimes my body just acts up no matter how much medication I take or how clean I eat.

 

I have not traveled overnight for work since last year, and when I have tried traveling for leisure similar results happen. The difference is that when I travel for fun I usually have someone to take care of me when I am not well, so it makes things more bearable. My boss was understanding and halted all overnight travel without need of a doctors note or anything. But starting this year my boss wants me traveling - again. I am better off than where I was, but I know the stress of traveling and not being able to control my food might push me into another severe flare of IBS, GERD, and panic attacks. I feel well enough most days to work and I like working. But I can't do travel anymore, not only am I scared but all instances of travel since last year have been very difficult. I have traveled locally and to a neighboring state three times, and all times I had at least one day where I was in bed because of the pain and trips to the restroom. My theory is that my body is so sensitive and fine-tuned that changes in my environment trigger IBS. I feel I am more susceptible to catch GI bug while traveling by air as well (never fun).

 

Do I qualify under ADA to get reasonable restrictions such as no overnight travel? Most of my travel from the west coast office to the east coast office for internal meetings, many of which we can conduct over Skype. My doctor agreed and offered to write me a note as well. I have tried finding a job with no travel and with this economy it hasn't been easy. It is embarrassing to me that this is happening. I am 28, still young, and I want a career. But I have to listen to my body, and my body is telling me no on travel. What actions can I take to protect my job or modify my work? Is it reasonable to ask for limitations to no overnight travel but that I am willing to meet on Skype (all employees have video conferencing) for internal meetings? This is all new to me. My biggest fear is that my IBS gets worse and that I will have to file for disability down the road. I don't want that to happen sad.png. I have a lot of things that I still want to accomplish and places I would like to visit.

 

Any advice is appreciated.


I am a strong advocate for research - if in doubt seek a second physician opinion or research scholarly articles and bring them to your doctor. Continue to educate yourself, educate your doctor, and educate your law makers. Never stop seeking solutions - knowledge is a powerful tool.


#2 annie7

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Posted 04 February 2015 - 06:30 AM

i don't have IBS--i have colonic inertia, pfd etc but omg all that travel would kill me...especially traveling to a different time zone like that which  plays total havoc with one's body--messes up body rhythms, sleep, bowels, affects the immune system--everything. and the added stress that travel creates hugely affects ibs.

 

i'm no expert of course, but it certainly sounds to me that you would qualify under the ADA to get reasonable restrictions like no overnight travel. and that seems reasonable since it apparently could be handled by skype.  

 

                http://www.dol.gov/d...ommodations.htm

 

i would think that it would save money for your employer to do this, too. and many people consider skype a greener way to dealing with company meetings etc than travel...

 

and it's good that your doctor will provide verification. IBS is disease and needs to be properly managed. travel can certainly  interfere with that.

 

it also seems reasonable because your boss was understanding and halted overnight travel before. do you know why he/she changed his mind about this--what prompted this change? 

 

sorry i can't be of more help. when i was working i never had to deal with the ADA but i did have experience with OSHA when my employer, a large federal agency,  tried to limit bathroom visits to twice a day (!)   i do think your request for less travel is quite reasonable.

 

i don't supposed your office is unionized...

 

good luck. i do  hope you and your boss can settle on a compromise that works well for you. take care.


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these are just my own thoughts. for expert medical advice please contact a health care professional.


#3 SheLikesCats

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Posted 04 February 2015 - 02:25 PM

Thanks Annie. My boss knew that I had IBS and I went through a horrible flare last year, I was fortunate that she was understanding, halted my travel, and let me work from home during the days I couldn't leave my bathroom. I think that she is under the assumption that IBS is temporary and goes away, and this year I was promoted to a position which requires more collaboration between departments at my company. Since my severe flare my IBS has slowly gotten better, but not better enough to a point where I would feel comfortable traveling overnight. As it stands I do local travel (up to 2 hour car drive away) and I'm fine with that. My job requires a lot less travel than it used to, and all travel is currently local. My IBS doesn't cause urgency so much as pain that is unbearable and stops me in my tracks. I rarely have the need to stop multiple times when coming home, if anything I am just wishing for my heating pad for my stomach or to put on my comfy PJ's. Or to eat food at home rather than grabbing something on the road. I used to have to go out locally 50% of the time, now it's only three days a month. The other nice part is that I can control when I want to go out, I am in charge of my schedule. The other thing about driving is that if I do get really ill, I can take myself home. I have complete control over it. I sent her an email stating that overnight travel is something I can't do, but we haven't discussed it in person yet. I'm hoping she is understanding.


I am a strong advocate for research - if in doubt seek a second physician opinion or research scholarly articles and bring them to your doctor. Continue to educate yourself, educate your doctor, and educate your law makers. Never stop seeking solutions - knowledge is a powerful tool.


#4 annie7

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Posted 04 February 2015 - 02:46 PM

yes, fingers crossed she will be understanding...

 

and also that she will understand that IBS is not temporary and goes away.... i think a lot of people who are not IBS sufferers tend to think that. but it's a functional bowel disorder of the gastrointestinal tract.    hopefully you will be successful in getting this point across to her. maybe you've already seen this or don't need it but this board has a downloadable brochure explaining all this to people who don't have IBS and who don't understand what it involves:

 

 

                 http://www.ibsgroup.org/aboutibs

 

and of course one of the keys to dealing with IBS is managing it and for you--and a lot  people, really; we've had posts about this before-- being able to manage it includes not having to do lots of overnight travel.

                     

 

good luck. hope it all works out. keep us posted...


these are just my own thoughts. for expert medical advice please contact a health care professional.


#5 SheLikesCats

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Posted 19 February 2015 - 12:00 AM

My doctor wrote the letter explaining why I could no longer travel. I was about to scan it over to my HR department when I recieved a phone call. My boyfriend got his dream job, the pay is going to allow him to support me fully (so no working until the IBS is under ropes), and we are moving north. A lot of pros, but also a lot of anxiety. I don't like change much at all. So essentially my two weeks are being put in tomorrow and my boyfriend and I are hoping this opportunity will grant me enough time to seek out a better GI specialist for a second opinion, de-stress, and maybe get a better handle on the IBS. As it stands, working and doing school with IBS is crazy. I need more control over my symptoms in order to live a better life, we are hoping this opportunity will do just that. So the problem sort of solved itself.


I am a strong advocate for research - if in doubt seek a second physician opinion or research scholarly articles and bring them to your doctor. Continue to educate yourself, educate your doctor, and educate your law makers. Never stop seeking solutions - knowledge is a powerful tool.


#6 annie7

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Posted 19 February 2015 - 05:53 AM

oh that's wonderful!  the right thing happening at the right time! so happy for you.

 

and yes I do understand about a big change like this causing anxiety. i don't like big changes much, either.  but there are so many pros with this one.  you definitely want to get a better gastro doc-- try looking for one who works at a university hospital. often they are much more knowledgeable, up-to-date and proactive. 

 

and oh yes--work and school with chronic  ibs on top of all that is way too much stress and pressure.  you need a break so you can finally relax and regroup--figure out a plan...


these are just my own thoughts. for expert medical advice please contact a health care professional.


#7 kals

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Posted 19 February 2015 - 08:47 AM

Life is a big crisis!  would be nice if bosses were educated on these matters by now, and doctors were more informative.   crazy



#8 SheLikesCats

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Posted 21 February 2015 - 09:24 PM

My current GI doctor is alright, she is just sort of dismissive. When I have questions for her they aren't returned quickly at all, often times it takes two days or many rounds of phone tag. I agree with you Annie, the area we are going has a ton of university's so I will be looking for doctors doing IBS or motility research. I'm willing to be a bit of a guinea pig if they have new treatments that can provide relief, or maybe they will actually listen (such a novelty).


I am a strong advocate for research - if in doubt seek a second physician opinion or research scholarly articles and bring them to your doctor. Continue to educate yourself, educate your doctor, and educate your law makers. Never stop seeking solutions - knowledge is a powerful tool.


#9 annie7

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Posted 22 February 2015 - 05:42 AM

oh good---yes, do try a university hospital doc.  mine is terrific--he does a lot of research, very knowledgeable, proactive, up-to-date as well as caring, understanding and yes-he actually listens to me. plus his office is superbly run. if i have a question, they'll ask him and return my call same day.  

 

i've had the dismissive docs, too--what a welcome relief to find someone who is so dedicated and who actually cares and listens.

 

wishing you all the best!!


these are just my own thoughts. for expert medical advice please contact a health care professional.






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: work, travel, ADA, IBS-M, IBS-A, job, stress, anxiety


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