Need advice re: training situation


I’m supposed to do some training tomorrow, where I’ll be standing up in front of people for a full 8 hour day. There is a 1 hr lunch break, and 2 15 minute breaks. I’m not supposed to do more breaks than that.

However - because I’m on chemo, I occasionally have to run to the bathroom to lose food out of one end or the other. I don’t usually have more than a minute’s notice (if that) before I have to run.

How the heck should I handle this? Cancelling the training or having someone else do it is not an option.

Oh, and to top it off this is the first time I’m training this particular group of people, so they don’t know me at all and I could very easily make a bad impression. Yay! :smack::smack::smack:

I would be completely upfront about it. Otherwise they are either going to think you are pregnant or hungover.

This. If you can’t cancel, then you really have to manage your audience’s expectations.

“I’m currently undergoing chemotherapy which means I’m prone to sudden bouts of nausea, so please excuse me if I occasionally step out to go to the bathroom. If this happens, I’ll be back in just a few minutes.”

I hope you have made the situation clear to your boss(es), so that they don’t go “WTF” if they get reports of you stepping out of the room on a recurring basis.

Can you at least take something like Immodium to help control the lower portion of your GI tract for the day?

I agree. Explain that you’re dealing with a medical issue which may require you to sometimes leave suddenly for a short while. Apologize for the inconvenience, and thank them for their understanding.

You’re worried about breaks? Possibly two or three of your emergency absences could be cotemporal with the breaks, if they occur at appropriate times. Since any others would be unavoidable, instruct them that while you’re thus gone they are to review and/or discuss what has been presented so far*, and that these absences are not part of their breaks.

*Of course, do not try to enforce this, just make it the “official” policy so that you’re following your teaching regimen to the extent possible.

Yes, I’m on Immodium, which usually works but not always - I’ll be double-dosing on that as necessary.

Double agreed. I would also mention it so that anyone who is or has been recently sick will be able to avoid passing on any germs.

My hat is off to you, by the way. You have Grit.

If someone training me explained they were in your situation at the start of the session, I would have nothing but respect and admiration for them. Hope it went well.

Oh, and as an aside I think it’s silly to expect anyone, even intelligent adults, to absorb nearly 2 hours of training (which is what your schedule implies) without a break - especially multiple times throughout the day. I’m not an experienced trainer, but once when I had to speak to a group after they’d already had about an hour of being talked at, I got them all to stand up and do 5 star jumps before I started, just to get a bit of circulation going and help them refocus their attention.

Might also be helpful to have someone else present as an ‘assistant’ who can take over during these times & lead the discussion/review. Doesn’t have to be a full-fledged trainer – maybe just someone who has previously received the training or is doing the job currently. Certainly could be considered a ‘reasonable accommodation’ for someone who is temporarily disabled by the chemo.

(And I agree with Dead Cat that a full day of 2-hour unbroken training sessions is not going to be very conductive to much learning. At least try to break it up a bit – do a half-hour of training, then have them pair up with the person behind them to practice that part of the training , etc.)

After explaining the situation I would run a sweep on how many interruptions there will be. Get everyone to write their guess in their notes before you start and give a prize to those that are correct. I have done it with blowing my nose and coughing fits when unwell.

I realize that I’m two days late to respond to the OP, but I wanted to comment anyway.

First of all, you have my admiration and respect for doing work of any kind during chemo! I’ve nursed a friend and two family members through various chemo and radiation treatments and none of them worked during chemo. Walking to the kitchen to get a glass of water was an accomplishment on the day after chemo treatments. The rest of the day was spent in bed, knocked out by anti-nausea pills (understandably). I admire your strength and ‘grit’ (to steal a word from an earlier post)!

My take on the situation is the same as most of the other responses. Up-front honesty is the best way to handle a situation like this. But I also think how much you share is entirely up to you. Personally, I would say something like “I’m currently going through chemotherapy treatments and I may need occasional, brief unplanned breaks.” If anyone asks questions (such as your diagnosis and/or prognosis), I would politely say that I’d rather focus on the material at hand. It would be entirely up to you, but if you are willing and comfortable to discuss your health situation, you could say something like “let’s talk about that on break or after the class is over when we’re not on company time” or something similar.

On a more practical note, I would also consider wearing some sort of extra protection below the waist. :o I have IBS-C (Constipation Predominant IBS) and I take a medication daily to soothe the pain in my gut and facilitate more frequent ‘movements’. I can skip it when I absolutely must- such as when I’m flying cross country or on jury duty. But I take it almost every day. Sometimes, I’m fine all day and other times, I need to run to the restroom several times with no warning.

One day, I took my medication first thing in the morning (on an empty stomach, when it’s most effective). About 45 minutes later, I was asked to go to a meeting that would last 4-5 hours and to speak for 45-60 minutes on my area of expertise. It was incredibly embarrassing, especially at the ripe old age of 34, but I bought a pack of ‘adult underpants’ (diapers, basically) and wore them that day. I was wearing a suit, so they would be invisible with my jacket buttoned. I didn’t need them, thankfully, but it was reassuring to know that the worst case scenario (shitting myself in front of a crowd) wouldn’t happen! =)

Once again, you are my hero!!!

Hey all!

Just giving you all an update - I did the training yesterday, and it went off smoothly. I had to throw up twice, but the first one was just as we were taking our lunch break so I was able to just play it off as rushing out to get to lunch. The other time was when we were doing exercises, so the room was fairly quiet and I just slipped out, ejected the lunch I had eaten, and came back with nobody noticing.

BTW, for those concerned about the schedule, the training was all day, but it was broken up as follows: Lecture on how to do the Thing (9 - 10) -> break (10 - 10:15) going over examples of the Thing (10:15 - 11:30) -> lunch (11:30 - 12:00 ) -> practice doing the Thing as a group, so we could all benefit from each other’s questions and answers (12:00 - 3:50, with a 15 min break at 2:00) -> Wrapup, answering any last questions, etc (3:50 - 4:00). It went pretty well - people were saying how much more confident they are feeling about doing the Thing, so hopefully I’ll get good reviews on the training. I have to do it again for my home location tomorrow, so it’s good to have the practice!

Maggie, you’re truly amazing. It sounds like things went as well as possible for the employees you were training and that you handled the nausea in a truly above-and-beyond way. Well done you - many hugs of support.

My lord Maggie, kudos to you! I have significant familiarity with cancer and chemo (not me fortunately). That you did this at all boggles the mind and I’m so glad it went smoothly.

Ditto. You have true grit.