Coping with a chronic illness, especially one where no-one can see that anything is wrong with you, can be exhausting. Then factor in trying to hold down a demanding full-time job alongside an illness, extreme symptoms, and medical appointments, and you are starting to get a picture of my life in recent years.
I am the product of two hard-working, loving, caring, happy and extremely positive parents and I am blessed with the best husband in the world, supportive siblings and amazing friends. My glass is always half-full and I’m happy to share it with anyone who is thirsty. I aim to look for the positive in things and that is the same when it comes to my health.
L-R: Toby Collins, Jacob Winstanley-Punch, Carrie Snaden, Tracey Thatcher, and Pete Snaden.
I was first diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis back in 1995 when living and working in Bristol. I was put on an 8-week course of steroids which sorted things out and I used exercise and eating a healthy diet to keep things in check. I had 10 years or so with very manageable symptoms and I thought ‘I’ve cracked this’.
We moved to our forever home in Cornwall in 2015 and a friend recommended me to Pete Matthew for a job at Jacksons. I let Jacksons know about my Ulcerative Colitis in case it did affect my attendance at work but I was hopeful that I could continue to keep the symptoms under control.
Unfortunately, I started to get more Ulcerative Colitis flare-ups which sometimes affected my ability to attend work but Jacksons were just wonderful – they were so supportive and allowed me to work my hours at different times when I was too ill to get into the office or needed to attend medical appointments.
My health was up and down over the next few years and I was almost constantly on steroids. Medical Specialists suggested courses of various drugs including biological injections and IVs to try and control the symptoms but with little success. With a very reduced quality of life, clinical malnutrition, and a lot of pain, it was agreed that I should have a full colectomy to remove the majority of my colon where the ulcerative colitis existed and I was left with a stoma and a bag for life. ‘Have bag, can travel again!’ became a bit of a catchphrase with friends.
Jacksons were amazing and so supportive throughout my extended time of working from home before the operation and during my recouperation afterwards.
Feeling useful and being able to do some work tasks really helped when I wasn’t physically able to do much of anything. As soon as I could manage the stairs, I started going back into the office and it was lovely to be in the same room as other human beings after working remotely for so long. Even when I was back to working full-time, I had superb support at Jacksons, reminding me that if working from home was easier sometimes or if I was tired and needed to finish early on occasion, then I must do it.
I have a second operation in the offing which means another six weeks off work. When I let Jacksons know of the operation their response was, ‘Whatever you need’. It isn’t just lip service, it’s what the management team and the employees are all about at Jacksons. On our website it says, 'People are always our top priority. We want Jacksons to have a positive impact on each and every person we meet.' This is how Jacksons operate and it isn’t solely for clients; it’s for all the employees as well. Jacksons have been so flexible, understanding and caring throughout my health issues. I feel very blessed to work for such an amazing company and with such a fabulous team of people.