IBS and self-employment: is it the answer?

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If you have IBS then you know what a grind it can be some days, getting yourself into work and getting through the day.  With a horrid assortment of symptoms to ‘choose’ from – pain, stool frequency alterations, mucus, bloating, distension, nausea, fatigue, etc.1 – some days work is just the last place in the world that you want to be.
If you add into the mix unsympathetic superiors, sniping colleagues, horrid canteen food and coffee, staff toilets and stressful deadlines, really the modern workplace can be an IBS sufferer’s worst nightmare!  Everything about it just seems designed to aggravate your symptoms to the nth degree.

If you’re anything like me you probably dream fondly of winning the lottery and escaping away from it all, to a world of yachts, sandy white beaches and pristine ensuite lavatories.  Don’t we all!  A more realistic dream of yours may be self-employment.  Do you ever wonder if it might be the answer to your troubles?

What are the upsides of self-employment for the IBS sufferer?  Well, there’s certainly the issue of self-determination and control.  This is a major problem for an IBS patient working a regular job.  You can’t necessarily take a comfort break whenever you feel like you need one, or at least not as often without being conspicuous.  If you work in a call centre you definitely can’t take a break whenever you like – they schedule the heck out of you!

If you’re in some out-of-town commercial or industrial centre then you’re probably stuck with canteen food, too.  Not so great if you’ve made a few dietary adjustments you feel help your condition.  They’re hard to stick to when you’re faced with bacon and eggs or sugar cereal in the canteen in the morning and your stomach is growling!
Of course there are stresses associated with most jobs.  Deadlines, irritable managers, problem colleagues, coffee that doubles as toxic waste, angry customers…  none of it calculated to ease a troubled gut.

So would self-employment fix all these troubles and render your life – even with IBS – a stress-free haven entirely under your control?  Ahem.  I have my doubts.  Self-employment has its own stresses – fluctuating income, anyone?  Non-paying clients?  The IRS?  And if you work on client sites, you probably just wind up stuck with their canteen rather than your own.  You may have more control in some ways, especially regarding ‘comfort breaks’,  but maybe less so in others – droughts of work, not having the flexibility of moving around into other positions in a big company, having to take whatever work is available in hard times, sucking it up and smiling sweetly at nasty clients.

It’s a big choice to make and you’re the only one who can make it.  Only you can know if your IBS is a big enough factor to tip the balance – so think long and hard before making that leap!

1. Tresca, A.J. http://ibdcrohns.about.com/cs/ibs/a/romecriteria.htm

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