Working with a life-threatening illness such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is difficult to manage, regardless of whether that work is full- or part-time. Exhaustion, illness, and hospitalizations often get in the way of being able to complete tasks efficiently, and may also prevent me from meeting organizational deadlines. Not only is this hard to accept as an employee striving to do my best work, I can imagine it also is difficult on my manager who depends on certain tasks being done by our team.
As someone who supervises a dedicated team, I think my manager understands that we all try our best. With that said, when I can’t get something done, I know she understands that it is not because I don’t want to, but rather that I am fighting off an impact of my disease. Thankfully, I can say with confidence that my current manager is not like anyone else I have ever worked for. She is excellent at her job and manages my team with what I consider to be fairness, understanding, and compassion. That’s why I’d like to write this as a column of thanks to a manager who helps me more than she knows.
The last few weeks have been very busy with a surge of work to be completed before our fiscal year’s end. On top of this, I have been battling a respiratory infection that is keeping me from the office more than I would like and causing me extreme fatigue, which I am really struggling with. I fear this is interfering with my ability to get work done. My manager does not share that fear and, instead, she is the first person to tell me to share the workload among our team and to take the week off to rest. While I didn’t do this, I felt a lot better after talking with her about what I feel I could do while battling this infection, and what I can’t. She supports me when I need it, and is realistic and blunt with me when I deserve it.
Following are some of many other reasons why I’m thankful for my manager:
- She trusts me. In particular, she trusts me with my health needs and how they pertain to my ability to work. When I am being stubborn, she offers her thoughts, which often differ from mine since I want to work and she thinks I need to rest. In the end, she trusts me to make my own decisions. I wish she knew how much this means to me. When living with a life-threatening illness, there aren’t many times in which the control and choice is in my hands. She gives me choices and does not enforce when I can or cannot work but leaves it up to me, trusting me to choose what I need when my lungs are not cooperating.
- She has an excellent sense of humor. I have never been supervised by someone with whom I can share jokes, stories, or comments like I can my current manager. This has enabled me to feel as if I can go to her with concerns, frustrations, or fears pertaining to work or illness, and she will try her best to understand. If nothing else, she usually figures out how to make me laugh, and I wish she knew how much this means to me.
- She gives me (and our team) independence. While we need her approval for many things, we have the independence to make decisions about an equal number of other things. I often follow the motto: “Do it now, ask for forgiveness later,” and as long as I can justify why I did something, I know I will be supported by my team and our manager. I wish she knew how much this independence means to me, and how unique it makes our workplace.
- She has my back. In situations in which I have done something incorrectly, my manager is the first to help me resolve the issue and learn from the mistake. When I bring concerns to her, she gathers the necessary information to understand and then works on resolving it from an unbiased perspective. Not only does she work hard to resolve the issue at the moment, she thinks about how to ensure the issue doesn’t come up again or what to do if it does. Lastly, she checks back with me about concerns I bring to her. I wish she knew just how much this means to me because it allows me to feel cared about and understood.
I am aware that she sometimes reads my columns, and if she happens to come across this one, I want her to know how much she is appreciated and how grateful I am.
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.