Talking to Your Employer

Painful gout attacks can keep you home from work. Negotiating more sick days or flexibility from your employer can be stressful. Your best strategy is to put your game face on and talk to your employer about what’s going on, with assurances you’re going to continue to deliver and how you’re going achieve that—despite unexpected absences that may last several days.

You can do this whether you’re newly diagnosed, or have had gout for awhile. Even if you’ve already talked to your boss about gout, demonstrating renewed commitment to both your health and your job could make a significant difference for you at work.

Prep for the Talk

The more you prepare, the more confident, competent and responsible you’ll appear to your boss and coworkers. Try these strategies:

  • Talk to your doctor about the impact gout might have on your work.
  • Get a doctor’s note documenting your diagnosis to give to your employer. This will help your employer understand the seriousness of the disease.
  • Have a treatment plan in place so you can briefly outline the steps you’ll be taking to tackle gout.
  • Practice what to say on a family member or trusted friend beforehand.
  • Be prepared to explain what gout is and how it affects you.

Tell It Like a Pro

This is your employer, not a buddy or a relative. Be clear, brief and professional about it by sticking to the facts. Getting emotional or providing too much personal detail will make it uncomfortable for both of you.

Sample Script:

“I have a form of arthritis called gout. It’s sometimes called “gouty arthritis.” It causes sudden and severe inflammation of the joints and painful attacks. It’s caused by abnormally high levels of uric acid in the blood. My doctor has me on a treatment plan and I’m taking my medications as directed. I’m also doing everything I can to tackle this, for instance, by ___________ [give an example here, eg. making sure I don’t become dehydrated]. To ensure this doesn’t become a problem at work, I’m going to _________, _________ and _________. [give examples of what you’re going to do at work, eg. make up any extra sick days in overtime hours.]

How to Stay in the Game

The most important thing you can do is to stay committed to tackling gout. Doing everything you can to prevent the disease from progressing will help minimize the effect having gout will have on your life and career.