Workplace: Office Politics
We catheter users like routine. Most 9-to-5 jobs like routine too. So the two should mix really well, right?
Ugh – we know the truth. Two routines don’t make a right – in fact they can overlap, clash, and bump into each other like two figure skaters practising on the same rink. Some routines need a bit of extra care and timing if they’re going to work alongside each other.
Let’s say you’re starting a new office job. There are all those first-week settling-in rituals. Find the mug shelf. Locate the toilets. Figure out the washing up, the Wi-Fi and the fridge space. But mainly, office politics is all about people – and they can’t always be pinpointed quite so swiftly. Just as we were talking about in the blog posts on friendship/social life, cath users are pretty careful about who they tell about their condition, and how much. Information is power that you don’t want someone holding over you.
In an ideal world, it’s easier to be upfront with everyone (though that can be very vulnerable) or no one (though that can be very isolating). So instead we try the middle ground, picking and choosing. Colleagues may be trickier than friends to select as confidantes, so necessity may govern who you’re upfront with.
Purely from my experience (and I’m no 9-to-5er), it can be helpful to tell your boss and possibly your more immediate line manager. They’ve probably heard all sorts, and some can be very understanding on such things – better to be informed. That way they know you’re not shirking off if you spend longer than most in the toilets.
In my line of work as a sitcom writer, I mostly don’t feel the need to tell my producer bosses, because they’re generally not in the same office, and it’s all very freelance. But a couple of my jobs have meant months in the same office, so sure, I’ve told those bosses or co-writers. They don’t need all the details (and trust me, they clearly don’t want to know – in fact I’ve never seen people change subject so quickly), so I find a simple “I’ve got a wonky bladder, by the way – lifelong thing, organs born on the outside… so if I’m a while in the loo, I ain’t shirking…” generally covers it. Most say they hadn’t noticed I took long toilet trips – they were probably glad of a chance to check their emails mid-meeting.
Don’t forget: you’ve got workplace rights, and that includes medical care being taken into account. And there’s no guilt here; I find I take far less time in the loo than my colleagues take on cigarette breaks and the like. If you’re a cath user AND a smoker AND an obsessive tea drinker then… well can’t you combine two of them? (I’m not advocating for a second that you light up on the loo. That’d be weird. Cup of tea on the loo though? Sure. Classy.)
The opinions expressed here are of a personal and anecdotal nature, and are in no way a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult your doctor or nurse if you have any questions.