It’s three o’clock in the morning, and I just got home from a social outing with my new coworkers. The evening was fun…not only am I getting to know the people that I work with a little bit better, but I am also celebrating the fact that my cold of ten days is finally tapering down. (Let’s hear it for immunosuppresants!)
I marveled in my ability to actually dance, even though my knees are once again being slightly affected by my rheumatoid arthritis. The last time I went dancing was a few months ago. To be honest, I felt a little awkward dancing with my crutches that evening a while back…but I did have fun that night, and in the end that is what matters most. While I was not using my crutches this evening, I did have the sense that they *might* once again be coming out of their corner in the vestibule sometime soon.
During the evening I spoke with another professor in my department, and opened up a little bit about the fact that I live with rheumatoid arthritis. I’ve had a relatively good past couple of weeks (despite my cold), but over the past couple of days I’ve noticed that pervasive pain returning to all of the joints in my body. I guess my need to bring up this topic was somewhat preemptive….I’d rather explain the presence of a cane or crutches now, ahead of time, instead of when I am “in the weeds” (as chefs would say).
Even though I had expected the receive a supportive response, I was still surprised with how overwhelmingly supportive the response was. To sum it up in a few words, I was told that if I ever did have a day where I was not able to make it to campus, one of the other professors in the department would happily fill in for me.
And while deep down inside I hope to not reach such a point, I do find a lot of comfort in knowing that if I do have a really bad day, my colleagues are willing to step up and help me.
Speaking about disability in the workplace is always a sensitive topic, and I don’t think that there is a simple answer for how it should or should not be done…but I am learning, firsthand, that in my situation being open about it is only helping me to feel more confident about this recent commitment that I have made.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!