Monthly Archives: May 2011

My chronic (Coeliac) career

I’m delighted to announce a new feature here on worklifespirit. ‘My Chronic Career’ will present interviews with people who have chronic health problems focussing on not just their medical experience, but also the impact on their life and career.

Jenna Blair from Shrewsbury, Shropshire has kindly agreed to be interviewed. Thanks Jenna!

(Please come forward to be interviewed if you work and have a chronic health problem by contacting me)

Can you tell me a bit about your Coeliac history?

Coeliac history  – I was diagnosed aged seventeen after many inconclusive trips to various G.Ps and around eighteen months worth of steadily increasing symptoms. Explanations of my ill health, extreme exhaustion, loss of memory and fainting fits ranged from being told I was ‘doing to much’ to suggestions of leukaemia and ME. Severe anaemia led one G.P. (I will never forget her) to question whether Coeliac disease may be the cause of all my problems. A blood test hinted that this may be the case and an endoscopy proved her suspicions. Within a few weeks of adopting the gluten free diet (the only way to treat/manage Coeliac disease) I had what I can only describe as a new lease of life. Looking back, I had got so used to feeling so ill that it was only when I became well again that I realised how truly terrible I had felt for such a long time.

And how about your working life? What career path have you taken?

I studied English at degree level and then went on to complete a PGCE in primary education leading to a five year teaching career. I now work as an administrator for a dance company with a successful education vein and other arts based organisations. I am looking forward to building an arts based career with a focus on education.

Did you know about your condition before you were diagnosed?

I did not know about Coeliac before my diagnosis.

How did you find out further information about your condition when you were diagnosed?

The Coeliac Society (now Coeliac UK) was an essential source of information and guidance.

Finding information is different now with the internet, which sites do you find useful in terms of information / support and advice about your condition?

Coeliac UK and many gluten free food manufacturers (such as Juvela and Glutafin) have useful websites, many featuring excellent gluten free recipes.

Thinking about working and having your condition – what do you find / have you found most difficult to manage / cope with in the world of work?

Situations involving food – e.g. Professional development courses with lunch included – usually sandwich based which is not suitable for anyone following a gluten free diet. I always take my own lunch along to this type of event nowadays and do my best not to feel awkward about tucking into my own homemade snack while others linger around the buffet table!

What is your top tip for employers – what could they do to support people with your condition?

Provide/request gluten free options for Coeliac employees at professional development and similar events.

What is your top tip for employees with your condition?

Forward planning – think ahead in terms of food and always take your own along if you are unsure whether there will be gluten free options. It’s hard to concentrate if you’re hungry!

When you have a flare up of symptoms – what is your ‘coping mechanism’?

I stick to strict gluten free diet so luckily my symptoms don’t flare up very often.

Do you think you have developed any personal skills or qualities as a result of having your condition? 

An understanding and tolerance of anyone having to follow a restricted diet … and an increased interest in and love of food and cooking.

What advice would you give people who have just been diagnosed with your condition?

Advice to newly diagnosed Celiac – contact Coeliac UK, ensure you stick to a strict gluten free diet and look forward to feeling well again.

What advice would you give to the family and friends of someone who has just been diagnosed with your condition?

Newly diagnosed Coeliacs need support to cope with following a restricted diet and also with coming to terms with having a chronic, life-long auto-immune deficiency.  Following a gluten free diet can make people feel awkward and embarrassed and family/friends can either add to or help with these feelings.  Jokes about being a ‘fussy eater’ are not funny … understanding, patience and an interest in the condition are much more helpful.

Do you have a chronic health condition and a career? If so please come forward to be interviewed by contacting me!

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Festivals and food policies

Over the last few weeks I have become increasingly aware that UK festivals are starting to impose restrictions on what refreshments ticket holders are able to bring into the event.

Old news you might think, restrictions on alcohol and glass packaging have been around for some time….but no…these are 100% restrictions on ANY food OR drink (including bottles of water) being taken into the festival arenas, and restrictions on what can be taken into campsites.

Heaven only knows why small scale local “no food or drink can be taken into the festival arena” festivals feel the need to impose such draconian rules – do they think they are Coach “No food/Drink allowed into the concert area” ella or something?

How does this relate to ill health? For starters, refresh your memory of the Equality Act 2010

1. Will the security staff have the relevant skills, knowledge and training to enable them to identify, and make a judgement, on sight of the following:

  • A person suffering from diabetes who needs to carry certain types of food with them?
  • A person suffering dehydration who needs to keep their hydration levels up?
  • Someone who is lactose intolerant and needs to bring in some lactose free milk for their tea / coffee?
  • Someone who is coeliac and needs to bring in gluten free food?
  • Someone who has severe food allergies and needs to keep their food free from allergens such as nuts?
  • Someone with heart disease and who needs to be on a low fat diet?

2. If I am considered disabled, and I am refused entry to a festival arena because of, for example, the gluten free rolls I want to bring in to an arena for the burger I would like to buy, will the company be falling foul of the Equality Act?

Then consider health and safety…

3. I believe those festivals that confiscate water from patrons to have not carried out an effective risk assessment on this policy. The risks from dehydration, dirty hands (not all water is for drinking, it is also used to wash hands after using the appalling toilets) and dirty cuts from falls are greater than….. what? What is the realistic risk from a bottle of water? Well there isn’t a risk, it is cynical marketing ploy. If the company doesn’t let you bring your own refreshments into the arena, they can charge a premium to the vendors there…. I imagine it goes like this…”we’ve got a policy that people aren’t allowed to bring in anything to drink or eat and so you’ll make loads of money, that’s why we charge you more”

Then think about your customers needs – the customers that you are meant to serve…

4. I love festival food – hot fresh chips with plenty of salt and vinegar slathered with tomato sauce, warm doughnuts with creamy hot chocolate and cheese crepes – yum yum yum! But after approximately 2 hours of this type of food I get uncomfortable symptoms of Crohn’s as my body struggled to digest all this fat, cream, sugar and salt.

5. So I look for the ‘healthy’ alternative and I am delighted to find the all the traders selling Jamaican, Indian and Indonesian food, but no…..Hot spicy food, Crohn’s and chemical toilets – No thank you.

6. So I have a jacket potato, which means I won’t starve. But I don’t want to only eat jacket potatoes all weekend.

Why is this type of policy a bad idea?

A. The first thing to realise is that I have money to spend and I have choice. I will choose to visit festivals that meet MY needs and choices. In the context of health I call this my ‘Poorly pound’ (ooh I’ll copyright that one ©). I will prioritise the following:

  • Good quality, clean toilets, and plenty of them
  • A reputation for a variety of food including more healthy choices
  • Not having to explain myself to people who do not have any right to know about my medical history – this is how I will feel at a festival that has these restrictions

B. The second thing to realise is that it is unlikely to impact the bottom line in the way that you think. I want the freedom to bring my bottle of water and my snacks in, and I will purchase additional food and drink as well. By not giving me choice I will not buy your tickets and you are missing out on the poorly pound from me and the healthy pound from my family. You will save money on security staff who have better things to do than to look through people’s bags enforcing a silly policy. Oh, you don’t need my money? Did you sell out already? No we are in a recession and everyone is tightening belts. You do need my money.

C. It causes bad feeling. Your event should be remembered for the fantastic atmosphere, brilliant line up and helpful staff. It should not be remembered for the jobsworth security staff who took away the carton of juice from a toddler, the skips of perfectly good confiscated food greeting visitors at the entrance and every single patron grumbling that the only possible reason this ridiculous policy exists is because it is a cynical attempt by the event marketeers to extract more money from vendors. “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it (Franklin)”

D. It goes against festival spirit – customers have a well developed radar and growing distaste for festivals which are run heavily in favour of marketing and events companies – and with a limited budget they will seek out the more authentic experiences – i.e. not yours. This is linked to reputation above.

Fortunately there are some festivals that have a much more sensible approach, and will therefore benefit from my ‘poorly pound’ such as Latitude “Food for personal consumption is permitted onsite including in the arena”.

Lets look at some excuses:

  1. It is a health and saftey risk – I am the queen of health risk assessment – I live my life making decisions based on risk, whether it be to assume that dish does not contain mushrooms or weighing up the odds of surviving surgery. I write many risk assessments for my work. The risk associated with me not having fluid and food are greater than the risks of me having them on my person.
  2. It is standard practice – No it is not. Latitude, V and Leeds don’t feel the need to have this policy, for example.
  3. Vendors want us to have this policy – No vendors want you to create a good value event that meets the needs of customers.  They want high levels of footfall and generally happy punters. They are happy to pay for premium spaces, but not at the expense of customers who then dig their heels in and refuse to buy from anyone at all.

So what have I missed?


Book review – The Foul Bowel

The Foul Bowel by John Bradley. CPI Antony Rowe, Chippenham, Wiltshire. Yknot Publishing, 2010.

The Foul Bowel – 101 ways to survive and thrive with Crohn’s Disease is part autobiography and part Haynes Manual for surviving the medical intervention and social isolation that comes with inflammatory bowel disease. Aimed primarily at people with Crohn’s and their families/supporters this book should also interest medical staff working in grastro-enterology who want to develop their understanding of the patient perspective.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a book called ‘Foul Bowel’ with a cartoon on the front depicting an all too familar scenario for the Crohn’s patient, but when it arrived I was impressed by its size, weight and high production values. A quick flick through showed a nice typeface, cartoons, tips and medically related quotes from famous people. It looked like Foul Bowel was going to be quite different from any of the other Crohn’s books available on the market which tend to read like a medical text book or misery memoire.

The book is divided into 18 sections beginning with ‘Diagnosis Day’ and ending with ‘Looking Forward’. Each section is readable as a ‘pick up put down again’ or as a continuous narrative, though as a Crohnie I’ll admit that I did start at the end just to check that there was a happy ending!

Bradley tells his story as it happened, looking back to his life, work and interaction with medical services. Dotted throughout the text are added remarks and tips that come from the benefit of hindsight, and everything is tinged with the gallows humour of the veteran crohnie who long ago came to terms with the ubiquitous hospital gown, random side effects of barely effective medicine and brush with morphine addiction. This style is perfect for such a heavy subject and is well supported by the great cartoons that are well judged, clearly link to the anecdotes in the text and jolly funny.

Bradley and I have had very similar Crohn’s history, though I have not had the large numbers of strictures he has experienced, and it was quite a relief to see that it wasn’t just me that well, lets say, had issues with gowns (especially gentlemen of a certain age in hospital gowns), issues with side effects (the side effects work just fine, why doesn’t the bit that I need to work, work?) and several blissful weeks attached to a morphine pump following major surgeries knowing worrying wondering if I might be addicted. There are many, many other tales in the book, and you are bound to recognise yourself in some of the situations – nodding sagely if you had it as bad as Bradley (learning how to cough after major abdominal surgery in order to prevent your lungs from developing infections) and chuckling wryly if you haven’t (I didn’t try to date any of the medical staff)!

A key theme throughout Foul Bowel is the importance of taking responsibility for the management of your health and your life – basically because no-one else will.  Crohn’s is such a difficult condition, from the pre-diagnosis completely random signs and symptoms  (I was variously asked about TB, Chronic Fatigue, HIV and leukemia before they settled on Crohn’s) through to the inconsistent results from drugs and their side effects, that the medical profession does rely on us as patients to help them as much as possible. Bradley also offers some insights into manging work with Crohn’s disease that will be useful people who are trying to make decisions about balancing their work and their health.

I think that the only addition that I would like to see is a listing of all the tips as an appendix / aide memoire, but then I am a lists kind of person.

In conclusion I think that this is an excellent book for anyone suffering Crohn’s disease, or their family /carers who would like an insight into the disease and it’s management. I also heartly recommend it to anyone in the medical profession looking after people with Crohn’s. It would make an excellent gift for the Crohnie in your life – a veteran like me can laugh out loud, a newbie can see what may be ahead and be armed with the tips and advice offered by Bradley.

You can buy the Foul Bowel from John’s website – if you co to his website you will see all the different country and delivery options. Happy reading!

Disclosure: I was delighted to receive a complimentary copy of the Foul Bowel from John Bradley to review for my blog.

Report: Crohn’s, Colitis and Employment – From career aspirations to reality

Crohn’s and Colitis UK (NACC) has published new research about working life for people with IBD  called Crohn’s, Colitis and Employment – From career aspirations to reality (link opens a pdf). The research states, amongst other  findings:

  • 68% of people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) feel that they have little or no control over their working conditions and a third receive minimal or no support from their employer.
  • 78% of respondents worry about managing their symptoms (which can include urgent diarrhea, extreme pain and fatigue) or flare-ups while at work and as a result of their condition,
  • a third feel at risk of losing their jobs.
  • 52% agree that they work harder to make up for any shortcomings as a result of their condition
  • 40% worry that their colleagues or managers think they are not “pulling their weight” at work on occasions.
  • Researchers were surprised to note just how many people with IBD soldiered in to work, despite feeling ill (80%).

Employers were surveyed (private sector only) as well and this research showed that 66% of employer responders either admit to being totally unaware of, or only to some extent aware of, the needs of employees with IBD.

The research also showed that young pre-employed people with IBD felt quite daunted by the prospect of gaining their first job – not surprising since many people are diagnosed between the ages of 16 and 29, coinciding with the start of higher education or work.

  •  69% feel that their IBD has prevented them from reaching their full educational potential, and
  • half have ruled out some career options.
  • When thinking about future employment, most (82%) are worried about managing their symptoms; 66% are concerned about not being able to do their work adequately and 65% worry about employer flexibility.

I think that these young people have a point. Draconian working practices that include limiting time to go to the toilet in the private sector such as that alledged by staff who work for employers such as Lidl and the well known toilet monitoring of Call centres would be miserable for anyone with Crohn’s. Realistically there are going to be some careers which are out of bounds for Crohn’s patients who decide to put their health first – but which ones? Well that will probably depend on the individual, their age and their experience – one person’s perfection is another person’s posion.

The recession has increased competition for jobs, apprenticeships and education opportunities – even those industries which use to find it difficult to recruit need look no further than the local job centre to find high calibre candidates. Shrewsbury (county town in the UK, population 70,000) Waitrose just opened and there were 900 applicants for 33 jobs…. competition like this is going to be imtimidating to young people with a chronic health condition – regardless of equal opportunities provisions.

Educationally, there are issues as well. I loved studying my first choice of a biological sciences degree, but I do wish someone had told me that I would be attending lectures 9am – 5pm every day and then working til all hours on coursework – I wonder how much of my colon I sacrificed to my BSc. I envied my fellow students who were studying English at a mere 2 hours of lectures a week – so much more flexible to manage for someone with flaring IBD. True they worked just as much as I did but at least they could read and write independently when sitting on the toilet, or curled up in bed – and who knows, those codeine based pain killers could have produced exceptional creative writing! But again, it depends on the individual – if you know you lack initiative then the discipline of attending a laboratory every day all day will be less stressful than a full week of potentially nothing ahead of you.

I believe that good quality personalised career and educational advice is key – and that is one thing I hope to do with my Blog – so watch this space!!!

Crohn’s and Colitis UK is asking employers to make some sensible “reasonable adjustments” to the working conditions of people with IBD such as easy access to toilets, time for doctor/hospital appointments separate from their holiday allowance and flexible working.

The onus should also be on the health care system and the individual to work with employers to develop a successful working arrangement. As a starting point, check out www.GoodDeskBadDesk.co.uk for a visual demonstration of how employers can make a difference to the working lives of people with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis.

This is another area that I will be exploring on the blog.

To receive a free copy of the Report or the Summary Findings you can email info@crohnsandcolitis.org.uk.

Please help card in German for people with IBD

Travelling abroad with an IBD, indeed any health problem, has a few additional complications on top of the standard hassle of not forgetting anything important, leaving on time and not losing your bank cards.

To help ease some of the stress I’ve developed a variation of the NACC’s ‘Can’t wait card’ for you to use when travelling abroad.  This card will help you communicate when you need to use public toilet facilities but don’t know where they are. If there are no public facilities nearby then the card also asks if  you can use private / staff facilities. The second side of the card is for those occasions when there is a public toilet, but you need to pay to use it – and you don’t have the right change.

Although many people speak English across the world, and there are phrase books that help you, my experience is that rushing to try to find a toilet is stressful and difficult to communicate. You are often misunderstood. These useful phrases often don’t appear in phrase books. In some rural areas the majority of people don’t speak English.

Please help card in German

I have had the following text translated into German and put it into a Credit card sized pdf that you can print out and laminate. You can keep it in your wallet/pocket for emergencies.

This is free to download but if you can afford to it would be great if you could donate to a charity which supports Crohn’s and Colitis .e.g. through my Just giving page.  If you can’t print this out and laminate it yourself please contact me as I can do this for you. I will charge a fee for materials, postage and a donation.

What the card says

SIDE 1:

Culturally appropriate greeting

Please help!

I have a medical condition which means I need to use the toilet urgently.

This condition is not infectious or hazardous to other people.

Please can you show me where the nearest toilets are that I can use?

If there are no public toilets nearby, may I use your staff facilities?

Culturally appropriate way of expressing thanks

SIDE 2.

Culturally appropriate greeting

Please help!

I have a medical condition which means I need to use the toilet urgently.

This condition is not infectious or dangerous to other people.

I do not have the entrance fee required to use these toilets, and because of the pain I am in I do not have time to get the correct change.

Please will you let me use these toilets? I will come back and pay afterwards.

Culturally appropriate way of expressing thanks

Directions

  1. Please make a donation to Crohns and Colitis UK through my ‘Just Giving’ page
  2. Print out the Please help card in German
  3. Cut out the two card shapes below
  4. Glue them together, so the text is showing on the outside
  5. Place in a laminating sleeve
  6. Laminate!
  7. Alternatively you could make two cards by not gluing them together and laminating them separately.

Acknowledgements

Grateful thanks to Pauline Kussell, student from Germany currently residing with my friend Carla in Shrewsbury, for her translation of the text into German for this card.

An if you have missed the embedded links here they are:

Just giving donation page for Crohn’s and Colitis UK

Please help card in German

Over the next couple of days I will be uploading a French version of the card. Do you speak another language? Can you help this project? Contact me if you can!

New feature: My chronic (Crohn’s) career

I’m delighted to announce a new feature here on worklifespirit. ‘My chronic (Crohn’s) Career’ will present interviews with people who have chronic health problems focussing on not just their medical experience, but also the impact on their life and career.

John Bradley from Oakville, Ontario, Canada and author of the Foul Bowel kindly agreed to be my first interviewee. Thanks John! You can find John at his website www.foulbowel.com and on twitter.

(Please come forward to be interviewed if you work and have Crohn’s by contacting me)

Can you tell me a bit about your Crohn’s history?

My first symptom, an ocean of blood in the toilet bowl, came out of the blue in 1976 in my first year at university. I was finally diagnosed in 1983 after multiple misdiagnoses such as haemorrhoids, stress, depressions blah blah! I had an immediate surgery –  resection of the terminal ileum and 3 strictureplasties. I was the 3rd person in the world to have a strictureplasty, my surgeon in Birmingham invented it. I thought that would be it but the disease was rampant and uncontrollable for the next 10 years, meaning I was permanently feeling terrible and had another 4 surgeries, 2 more resections and another 20+ strictureplasties throughout the small bowel. I was convinced I would not live to see 40.

Things then miraculously quietened down though I still had plenty of health problems, but minor in comparison to what had gone before. A combination of steroids and Imuran mostly kept the Crohn’s ok. But after 10 years on steroids I had become dependent plus had early osteo so in 2002 was transitioned over to the then new Remicade (Infliximab) which changed my life. I have felt mostly very well since then.

I knew I had a couple of old strictures still in there so in 2007 I signed up to be a test patient for a new procedure, a Double-Balloon Enteroscopy. However, it all went wrong as it perforated my small bowel. The same evening I was taken down for emergency surgery which removed the perforation, strictures and old diseased bowel leaving me with about 150cms of small bowel. But that procedure also went wrong and during the night I had a major internal haemorrhage that was not discovered until I was going into shock. Major drama ensued with a ‘kill or cure’ massive injection of fluids then straight into surgery again where a leaking artery was discovered to be the culprit. Since then I have been well.

And how about your working life? What career path have you taken?

When I was diagnosed in June 1983, I was 3.5 years into my career in marketing at Cadbury’s in Birmingham. I asked the gastro, “so what does this mean for my career?” and he said, “Carry on as normal”. Worst advice ever and I’m glad I didn’t listen to it because it made no sense to me. I was in a stressful job where my peers and I worked long days. I realised that with Crohn’s I had to work smarter than my peers as I probably wouldn’t be able to work as hard over the long term.

So, after the first op, I came back into a job in a service function where I knew I could over-achieve even if I was feeling unwell or having time off. A couple of years later I moved back into marketing into the one job there that was more long-term focused (managing their Easter and Christmas product ranges), my reasoning being that, as I was always working on the season 18 months ahead, if I was too unwell to come in tomorrow, nothing would go horribly wrong. I made myself become a much more efficient manager than those around me as I knew I could not work long days on a regular basis. I changed jobs a couple more times between my ops, but always to jobs where I knew I could deliver results and never have to use my Crohn’s as an excuse for under-performance. I rarely shared with anyone in the workplace how bad I was feeling as I didn’t want the illness to cloud people’s judgement of me as a marketing professional. Basically, when I was feeling well I pushed myself, when I was feeling crap I got by.

In 1996 after 4 years without surgery I pushed for an overseas assignment and got a move to Cadbury Canada. I did well there, got promoted a couple of times and ended up as Senior Vice President of Marketing. I reached that level a few years later than some of my peers from the early days but so what? I think with Crohn’s and career you have to look much further ahead than other people and not let yourself end up in a job that you cannot cope with when you are flaring.

Did you know about your IBD before you were diagnosed?

Hadn’t heard of it. My mum was a nurse so she was devastated by the diagnosis. I, however, was ecstatic because I had a diagnosis!

How did you find out further information about your IBD when you were diagnosed?

No internet in those days so I went o Birmingham Reference Library and looked it up in medical textbooks. Probably a bad idea in hindsight as those books just focus on what can go wrong. But I have always had a thirst for knowledge about my condition, otherwise how can you keep control?

Finding information is different now with the internet, which sites do you find useful in terms of information / support and advice about IBD?

To be honest, I’m such a veteran now I don’t look for much more information. I Google for new news and go to talks about new developments. I do go on quite a few Crohn’s websites but more as someone passing on experience rather than asking the questions. I do get a lot of moral support from my 300+ Crohnie Twitter friends though.

Thinking about working and having an IBD – what do you find / have you found most difficult to manage / cope with in the world of work?

Not making it your employers problem. That was my main focus until I left the corporate world for good in 2003 when I realised I had actually been too successful – I was in a so senior a job that I could not balance the two. So I took a package, we downsized the house, went down to one car and have been far happier if a lot poorer!

What is your top tip for employers – what could they do to support people with IBD?

Hmmm, I don’t have any really given my mantra that I think the onus is on the Crohnie to stop it from ever being a workplace issue. Otherwise you are dependent on others for your own success.

What is your top tip for employees with IBD?

See above. Stay in control of your destiny, even if it means doing a job you can do in your sleep, because you might have to! Plus work for as big a company as you can where one person off sick is less of an issue.

When you have a flare up of symptoms – what is your ‘coping mechanism’?

Humour

Do you think you have developed any personal skills or qualities as a result of having an IBD? (I for example have encyclopaedic knowledge of public toilet locations!)

Definitely. Much more focused and forward looking. I am still working on my dealing with doctors skills though!

What advice would you give people who have just been diagnosed with an IBD?

It’s not the end of the world. It may well not be the life you thought you were going to have but you still can make the most of it. I think I have had a great life so far.

What advice would you give to the family and friends of someone who has just been diagnosed with an IBD?

Let them lead you as to how much to ask about it.

Do you have Crohn’s and a career? If so please come forward to be interviewed by contacting me!

Please help card in Spanish for people with IBD

Travelling abroad with an IBD, indeed any health problem, has a few additional complications on top of the standard hassle of not forgetting anything important, leaving on time and not losing your bank cards.

To help ease some of the stress I’ve developed a variation of the NACC’s ‘Can’t wait card’ for you to use when travelling abroad.  This card will help you communicate when you need to use public toilet facilities but don’t know where they are. If there are no public facilities nearby then the card also asks if  you can use private / staff facilities. The second side of the card is for those occasions when there is a public toilet, but you need to pay to use it – and you don’t have the right change.

Although many people speak English across the world, and there are phrase books that help you, my experience is that rushing to try to find a toilet is stressful and difficult to communicate. You are often misunderstood. These useful phrases often don’t appear in phrase books. In some rural areas the majority of people don’t speak English.

Please help card in Spanish

I have had the following text translated into Spanish and put it into a bank  card sized pdf that you can print out and laminate. You can keep it in your wallet/pocket for emergencies.

This is free to download but if you can afford to it would be great if you could donate to a charity which supports Crohn’s and Colitis .e.g. through my Just giving page.  If you can’t print this out and laminate it yourself please contact me as I can do this for you. I will charge a fee for materials, postage and a donation.

What the card says

SIDE 1:

Culturally appropriate greeting

Please help!

I have a medical condition which means I need to use the toilet urgently.

This condition is not infectious or hazardous to other people.

Please can you show me where the nearest toilets are that I can use?

If there are no public toilets nearby, may I use your staff facilities?

Culturally appropriate way of expressing thanks

SIDE 2.

Culturally appropriate greeting

Please help!

I have a medical condition which means I need to use the toilet urgently.

This condition is not infectious or dangerous to other people.

I do not have the entrance fee required to use these toilets, and because of the pain I am in I do not have time to get the correct change.

Please will you let me use these toilets? I will come back and pay afterwards.

Culturally appropriate way of expressing thanks

Directions

  1. Please make a donation to Crohns and Colitis UK through my ‘Just Giving’ page
  2. Print out this document
  3. Cut out the two card shapes below
  4. Glue them together, so the text is showing on the outside
  5. Place in a laminating sleeve
  6. Laminate!
  7. Alternatively you could make two cards by not gluing them together and laminating them separately.

Acknowledgements

Grateful thanks to Irma Elizabeth, Spanish Teacher, for her translation of the text into Spanish for this card.

An if you have missed the embedded links here they are:

Just giving donation page for Crohn’s and Colitis UK

Please help card in Spanish

Over the next couple of days I will be uploading French and German versions of the card. Do you speak another language? Can you help this project?

Raise money for charity by answering just one question!

It is early days for this blog, but not early days for my career in business or career in Crohn’s Disease (16 and 20 years respectively). I know what I have learnt over this time and hope to share with you, but I’d like to know what you’d like to see on this blog! So readers…

  • What do you want to read about on this blog? 
  • What work / life / spirit situations do you find yourself having to manage differently because of chronic ill health?
  • What are your tips for managing ill health and the rest of your life?
  • Carers and relatives what would you like to read about?
For every comment (1) on this post I will donate 20p (2) to Crohn’s and Colitis UK
1) When you comment, please answer one of the questions above – entirely random comments don’t count!
2) Up to a total of £50 or the end of July 2011 – whichever comes first!

EFCCA “IBD Impact” Survey

Take part in the largest ever survey of IBD patients in Europe! This study is looking at the impact of Crohn’s and Colitis on all aspects of life. The survey is completely anonymous and is being managed by the EFCCA, the European IBD Association. Get a nice cup of tea,  and visit the IBD Impact Survey website to take part. The survey takes 20-30 minutes to complete, and will provide invaluable evidence to influence national and European governments.

Restaurant review – Mirage Mezze, Shrewsbury

Over at my Yogaspirit blog I occasionally write something that would be useful for WorkLifeSpirit.  In this case it is a review of a local restaurant that serves deliciously tasty middle eastern food which is not OTT with the spices, and based in a thriving market hall with lifts and toilets. Enjoy!

Please go along to read the  rest of the review at Yogaspirit: http://catharinehinton.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/restaurant-review-mirage-mezze-shrewsbury/

Mirage Mezze, Units 27/28, Shrewsbury Market Hall, Shoplatch, Shrewsbury, SY1 1QG (Tel: 07760 537448)