Damn You Immune System - Uncover Ostomy
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Damn You Immune System

Or lack there of.


I’m sick. This is the 3rd time in the past week.

For those with any auto-immune disease, or those without a colon, or those with an auto-immune disease which led to the removal of a colon, you can identify with my perpetual sickness. It does not matter how many hours of sleep I get, how much vitamin C I ingest, or how many times I wash my hands- I always get sick.

Someone has a cough? I’d get it.

A stomach virus going around? I’d get it.

Random bodily infections? I get those too.

My friend’s first cousin’s-step sister’s-uncle’s-grandmother has the sniffles? Yup, I’d get those. But my friend wouldn’t.

Having had Crohn’s disease since I was 8 years old, and my ostomy since I was 13, I have become, unfortunately, very used to dealing with constant sickness. If it wasn’t the disease itself, it was the symptom of the disease that would get me, one of which is the high susceptibility to common ills. Sickness is so frequent for me that I have to actually force myself to get on with my life, or I will  never get anywhere or get anything done. Through any type of sickness I may suffer, I continue to do my homework, I still trek my way to class, and I still go to work.

Well- I try to go to work.

Today, I woke up with a ridiculous head cold that make my noise itch and my eyes water, as well as an overwhelming feeling of nausea that I had on my first day of work. Well, today wasn’t my first day of work; it was my second, and I was not nervous at all. In fact, I was actually unbelievably excited to go in. I had so many things in my Google work calendar that I needed to accomplish for the day that I was looking forward accomplish. I was also happy to go to work because of the great feedback I had received from my last blog. I found out that tons of people who work at the company have a Google alert set for the term, “Group Commerce,” so they get notified anytime it’s posted online. My last post had triggered an alert and people had seen it.

Whoops- sorry guys- you get to see this one too 😉

As I left my apartment for work, I figured my nose and my stomach would calm themselves down once I got busy with my tasks.

Unfortunately, it didn’t matter how nice my outfit was or how much makeup I had plastered onto my face because my sickness made itself known as soon as I opened my mouth. (Well, maybe as soon as I walked in, but I’d like to think I’m able to hide, at least some of, the sickness from my face…) This being the case, I figured I would just tell my boss I was sick  (because he would have soon found out anyways simply from the fact that I was sneezing every 30 seconds) and continue on with my day.

Thank you to all those who said “bless you” over and over and over. 

Within 20 minutes, he told me that I should go home. I, of course, argued with him, explaining that I’m just always sick and it’s just something I have to deal with, however,  he insisted that I leave and rest. I argued some more, but eventually gave in. Though he disagreed, I have a feeling someone complained about the noise of my constant nose blowing… So, for everyone else’s sake, I left.

I am now home and drinking a giant container of orange juice. I am still in my work clothes but getting very close to putting on my PJs again. I have class tonight (which I am 100% going to, of course) and am debating whether it’s worth it to get up and change, only to change again. Man, being sick makes me lazy.

I have to say, I was quite disappointed that I was sent home from work today. It has never been in my nature to give up when a sickness gets me, so this was very new. I mean- come on- when I was 13 years old I was writing science tests in a hospital bed, with a giant IV pumping narcotics into my system- I’ve made it through before.

I suppose the difference with this situation, however, is that when I arrive to work, sick, I am affecting the work environment of those around me. I would never go to work if I knew I was contagious, but since I’m so susceptible, I usually catch the smallest form of the contagion that most others wouldn’t. The situation is different here because my sickness was actually disrupting others. This realization is is why I agreed to leave today.

But this is all very new. The work environment…

It’s a whole other game, the working world, and I’m slowly learning how to survive in it. However, with every other part of life, Crohn’s patients and ostomates are the ones that have to find our own path in every different environment. In this environment, I realized I shouldn’t be at work when I’m sick… but what do I do when I’m sick all the time? How am I supposed to maintain a job if I am always going to be sent home when I’m sick? I’d literally never be at work in the winter, when I get sick the most.

I’m lucky that my Crohn’s disease hasn’t flared up and that I’m just dealing with common colds, because if it had, I would  not even be able to  have a job. This leads me to wonder even further about how those dealing with their flared up Crohn’s are able maintain jobs. The sickness can be so great that the pain and exhaustion can leave someone bedridden.

Well, friends, followers, ostomates-I’d like to know your thoughts. I would like to know how people like us, people who constantly deal with sickness, handle a job and the work environment. This is all very new to me and I’m learning as I go. Please help me learn!

What tips, tricks, plans, strategies, etc, do you employ when trying to stay employed?

Jessica Grossman
  • Stefanie
    Posted at 20:41h, 29 February Reply

    I can’t work fir these very reasons and no one understands.

  • Jill Jeneroux
    Posted at 01:33h, 01 March Reply

    I am so sorry to hear about everyones low immunity. Jess I feel so bad for you and anyone else who can not enjoy the simple activities due to IBD. I do love reading your stories I used to suffer and have an amazing suggestion for you.

    I found an all natural product that my body will absorb the nutrients and not just the calories. I have been healthy for just over a year now. It has truly changed my life. My website is above. It is a new site for me so not alot of info about me on it, but tons about the jucie and RVL program I now follow. Please look at this with an open mind, my friends tried to get me to try it for 2 years. I was not interested, wow.. the trouble I could have saved myself.

    To give myself some cred’ for being on this site. I am an ileostomate due to UC. I am happy to talk with you about MonaVie any time.

    • Jill Jeneroux
      Posted at 01:35h, 01 March Reply

      not sure why my date stamp is 1:33 am? anyone know how I can fix that? it is actually 8:34pm

  • Ed
    Posted at 02:26h, 01 March Reply

    I am fortunate to have employers and supervisors that understand my illnesses. Maybe not understand, but at least accept that it is beyond my control.

    I had a Crohn’s flairup yesterday. It started out feeling like a stomach virus, which is going around. I emailed that I thought I had the stomach bug and would not be in. The people I work with appreciate that.

    A MINOR (I emphasize minor) Crohn’s flairup is bad enough, but by late yesterday evening I wasa able to rule out stomach bug and pretty much confirm a Crohn’s flairup (ya’ll know how that is done). Crohn’s is not contagious, as far as I know. Flairup is settling down now, but today was kind of rough.

    I sympathasize with you Jess, Crohn’s is no fun. But the best thing you can do is educate those you work with about it. Also, explore the option (depending on your job) of working from home on occasion. Sometimes not being at work doesn’t mean you can’t work.

    As always, my thoughts and prayers are with you, and all like us. We are not alone.

  • Chloe
    Posted at 18:49h, 01 March Reply

    i know im not the best person to give you advice, considering am only 12 and not employed yet. but i feel that going to school, girl scouts, or another important thing is similar right? who am i kidding. i cant deciee those things for myself! sorry Jess. i hope you get better soon. your job sounds so cool! i want to be just like you when i grow up.

    • Jill Jeneroux
      Posted at 19:40h, 06 March Reply

      Chloe that is one of the best things anyoen could say to another person. You are very wise.

  • Pipp
    Posted at 09:32h, 02 March Reply

    I hear you.. I don’t get more than the average 2 but they hang around for a god awful amount of time. I have found that wearing gloves when out from the moment it starts to get cold till well into spring helps a fair bit. All those surfaces that you and everyone else touches can be a source of infection, but only if you manage to transfer it to your face. Generally speaking you tend not to touch your face so much with gloves on and that I have found to be simple yet effective.

  • Jill Jeneroux
    Posted at 19:38h, 06 March Reply

    just updating my website. the url changed. How do I change it, on here, permanently? Thanks

  • Nina
    Posted at 03:29h, 08 March Reply

    It’s true–being ill with an auto-immune disease is difficult. People in our lives love us and sympathize, but don’t really understand that even though I slept for 10 hours last night–I worked all day and need a nap when I get home. It’s exhausting, but I try. I always hope for some cure or at the very least some kind of treatment that will make my life–our lives–as ostomates easier, but until that day I soldier on and keep a smile on my face. Being diagnosed 3 years ago when I had to have an emergency colectomy because I was on the verge of death and coming up on my 3 year bag-iversay (to use your words) on March 18th–it makes me realize that inspite of all of the ups and downs, I’m really glad to be alive.

  • Katie
    Posted at 23:28h, 09 March Reply

    My son had his entire colon, ilieum and part of his small intestine removed when he was seven years old. It started when constant illness and well you know…the “path.” What amazes me is his strength to keep pushing on. The disease spread to his lungs and bronchial area and began destroying it. The endless doctors, hospital stays, treatments would be overwhelming to an adult (it is overwhelming for me and I wasn’t sick) but Josh never complained and never does! He gets IVIG every three weeks…he smiles! He plays baseball, football and hockey and he does really good at it, despite all this immune stuff encompasses. And when my 10-year old’s bag exploded on the ice…he went out the next day and told his team his secret. He then went onto to play in a game and score the only goal! The strength that you all have is simply amazing. I am a better person because, I, first-hand get to witness this amazing spirit and zest for life. Kuddos, to all of you out there, that push on, deal with this “life” and smile.

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