I believe that honesty is the best policy, but for years I hid my HAE from my employer. I assumed he’d use my HAE as a reason to hold me back, since it is a chronic condition that is hard to understand. So I just called in sick whenever I had an HAE attack instead of trying to explain what I was going through. However, I felt that missing so many days made me seem unable to do my job.
Oddly enough, prior to having an approved treatment for acute attacks of HAE, it seemed that a majority of my HAE attacks happened to occur on the weekends. If I spent all Sunday night dealing with an abdominal attack, I’d have to call in sick on Monday because I was just too exhausted to go to work.
My boss was getting tired of my frequent absences, so I told him about my condition. I do not think he understood the severity of HAE and instead rolled his eyes. At that time, I didn’t have any printed material to show him, so he would have to take my word for it…and he took my word as an excuse.
That is, until my wife had to call in sick for me one day while we rushed to the hospital. When I woke up, I found both of my eyes swollen completely shut and swelling developing in my face and throat. My wife and I know that we should always go to the hospital for a laryngeal attack, and that’s exactly what we did.
Shortly after reaching the hospital, I was intubated and placed in a medically induced coma to help my body rest. When my boss came to visit me in the intensive care unit, I was still in a coma, and my entire body was swollen.
From that point forward, he understood why I missed so many Mondays.
Today, there are more resources available to help us explain HAE to others. Websites can be a place to direct employers for information.
I’ve also discussed my plan of care with my employer. If I should have an HAE attack at work, I want my employer to know how to help me.
My office manager has a list of emergency contacts in case I have an attack at work and need to go to the hospital. It’s reassuring to know that someone at work knows what to expect if I have an HAE attack.
What about you? How do you explain HAE to your employer? Leave a comment.
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