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April 21, 2008, 7:17 pm
Working While Chronically Ill
In researching my column on how small business owners deal with health insurance, I talked to Rosalind Joffe, an executive coach who specializes in helping people who have chronic illnesses. Ms. Joffe has suffered from multiple sclerosis and ulcerative colitis, both of which have stabilized with treatment — the removal of her colon for the colitis, and the medication, Avonex, for her MS. Prior to getting sick, Ms. Joffe had two successful careers, first as a multimedia producer and then as a professor of communications at Boston University. She became a coach because she wanted a job that she could do from home and that would be flexible enough to allow her to modify her schedule whenever she had a bad day. She credits her ability to make that career change to the fact that her husband had a good health insurance policy that could cover her as well — yet another example of health insurance affecting a career choice.
According to Ms. Joffe, and to research conducted by the National Organization on Disability, only 32 percent of Americans with disabilities (ages 18 to 64) are working, but two thirds of those unemployed would rather be working. Ms. Joffe says she encourages people with chronic illnesses to figure out how they can work rather than go on disability. Research, she says, shows that remaining employed can actually lead to better health, not to mention improving self-esteem and maintaining social contacts.
You can learn more about Ms. Joffe’s work at cicoach.com, which provides resources for people with chronic illnesses and KeepWorkingGirlfriend.com a blog that promotes a forthcoming book for women suffering from autoimmune diseases, written by Ms. Joffe and Joan Friedlander. Both the site and the blog have extensive information and links to all kinds of resources, books, blogs and support organizations.
Ms Joffe is at her best when she poses questions to think about, as in this post about how to know if self-employment is a good fit for you. If you’re hungry for more than what is on her sites, Ms. Joffe, like a smart entrepreneur, offers a lot of extra information in newsletters and pdf workbooks and in the book, “Women, Work, And Autoimmune Disease,” available for preordering on Amazon.com.
Start your journey to successful work while living with chronic illness by using Rosalind’s workbook.