Hello everyone! I’m Jess and this is my first blog post for Arthur’s Place, so I’ll start by introducing myself.
I’m Jess – never, ever Jessica – I’m 22 years old and I am studying for a Masters and working part-time. Because of this, I don’t really have any spare time in which to do anything, but if I do get any, I like to cook dinner with my friends, or sing, or badger my parents for pictures of my dogs, who sadly live 150 miles away. Oh, and I have been living with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) for nearly seven years, although I’ve only been diagnosed for two.
I got my diagnosis just after my 21st birthday, so my first year with AS was also my final year of undergrad. This means that this year is the first time I’ve really adapted to a new lifestyle since I finally got an explanation for all the not-normal things that were going on. I’ve moved to a new place and now started two jobs (and had numerous interviews for future full-time ones), and this in turn has led to a new project which I wanted to share with you all.
Moving to London, one of the first things I did was order a ‘Please Offer Me a Seat’ badge for the tube, and then spent the next two months marvelling at how useful it was. As I started a job, though, I quickly realised how helpful it would be for something like this to exist outside of the commute.
After getting two months deep in a job and suddenly having a flare, and having to explain to my employer that I was actually not the able-bodied individual they thought they had hired, I was longing for something that would make explaining an invisible condition easier.
I am sure many of you are familiar with the unpleasant task of hearing your boss or colleague ask “what did you do???”, expecting a tale of tripping on the stairs or turning an ankle whilst running for a bus, only to be regaled with the 30-second edits of a complex medical history and the knowledge that this could happen at any time, with no warning.
I realised that what people with invisible disabilities, which are unpredictable in severity from day to day, needed was something that they could use both to start a conversation with their employer and to signal when they were having a flare. After wishfully thinking about this idea for three months, I mentioned it to a friend and we decided to go for it.
Enter Codeword Pineapple. Codeword Pineapple provides a pin badge and information card, for free, to anyone with an invisible disability. The card can be given to colleagues to explain the purpose of the badge, and the badge can be taken on and off as required, giving you an easy way to demonstrate the fact that you are having a flare when it’s not visible on the outside.
We chose the pineapple because, like people with invisible illnesses, it fights back – it has an enzyme that tries to break down your mouth as you eat it – and it’s the most resilient fruit out there. The badge and card will open the conversation so that you don’t have to, at the time when you least want to, acting as a codeword for your condition by making the invisible visible.
If you would like a pineapple, head to www.codewordpineapple.org.uk for more information and fill out our order form – it’s free!
Meet Jess and other friendly folk on Arthur’s Place Social, our Facebook Group
(Any opinions expressed in Jess’ blog are not necessarily shared by Arthur’s Place. Nothing that you read in Jess’ blog constitutes medical advice.)