Monday, August 31, 2009

Working and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a thief. It steals so much from our lives. Very often that includes the ability to make a living.

There are ripples out from this one issue into every other area of life. Here’s a short list I bet you could add to.

Standard of living
Health coverage
Loss of your productivity to family, employer, and society

My heart breaks from what I hear every day:

One woman left her husband because he could not work any longer. She could not accept his being on disability. Maybe she saw him as lazy because his disability is invisible to her.

One woman I know is terrified of losing her health insurance and her house. Actually, I have heard that from more than one person, come to think of it.

I know one lady who works for a man who will not acknowledge the physical problems her Rheumatoid Arthritis brings. Her boss makes her stand on her feet for hours doing a job which could possibly be done while sitting.

A dear friend of mine still works at her job every day; but I do not know how she makes it through each day. She is literally not able to anything else besides her work. There are fears about how long she will be able to do this.

One person told me she knows she is no longer a “viable” employee so she will be laid off from her job soon.

I know many RA’ers have had to trade down to a job that they like less, but is more suitable.
Then there are many like me (and the restaurant owner in the video) who were self employed when RA disabled them. She said, “Now I feel even if I applied to somebody else for a job, they wouldn’t want me.”

What about you? Let’s begin a conversation on this which may help one another. At the same time, we will be letting the non-RA world see what we deal with.

How has Rheumatoid Arthritis affected your ability to work at a job?

Related posts:
Functional Measurement of Rheumatoid Arthritis
6 Ways to Get Hard Projects Done With RA

What Causes the Fatigue of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Postblog: I have just noticed that one of the blogs that I follow also wrote a post on working and RA! (Good job Terry.) Here's the link to that blog for a clear view of his work with Rheumatoid Arthritis pain. The blog is called Dual Sport Life.


Jules0705 said...

I was diagnosed 4 years ago. In that time I have scaled back from 2 almost full time jobs (1 @ 40hrs a week and 1 @ 25-30 hrs per week) to only one full time job. It took moving out of New England to allow me to do that. My job is fairly physical. I am on my feet approximately 6-8 hours a day. I do everything from customer service to shipping/receiving textbooks. My boss is somewhat understanding. When I need to, I can spend time doing paperwork- but even then I am interrupted many times to walk here, there etc. I wore a pedometer on a few "normal" days just to see and I averaged 7500 steps a day without being in our busy period. One of the bigger issues for me is that as I am the second youngest there and don't "look" sick (and therefore it's easier to forget that I deal with this)- the expectations for the workload are higher for me than for 3/4 of my colleagues who are my parents age or older. I *could* constantly remind them and refuse to do some of it- but it wouldn't really do any good in the long run. I don't know how much longer I will be able to do this job. I also don't know how I can afford to give it up because that would mean losing my health insurance and without it- there is just no way I could afford Enbrel. It's definitely being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Terry said...

Hello Kelly,
Thank you for including a link to my blog on woking with RA. I have a very physical job working on a large printing press. One of my job duties is loading rolls onto the press by pushing them (3500 lbs avg) into the carriage. There is a lot of lifting, bending, climbing up and down stairs and a lot of trimming and cutting on rolls with a knife. Some days it is hard to hold the knife firmly in my hand, but I am determined to do my job without asking for any help or special privileges.

Had a really good night last night, just got home and finished working out. Going to crawl in bed so I can go do it again tonight.

Living It, Loving It said...

I blogged about that awhile back.

RA is definately a tough on the job for me. I am a legal assistant and the repetitive motion and the sitting for long periods takes a toll on me. Somedays,I am so exhausted, I can't do anything when I get hom.

kcsalmi said...

I am 26 years old and in July I lost my job as a nanny. I am in school to obtain a Ph.D. in Clinical Psych and I pray that my illness of Ankylosing Spondylitis does not force me to exit the work force before I ever enter it in my desired career. I have been searching for a job for months but I am only looking for part time work, full time is too strenuous for me with my illness.

I am so very lucky that I have a supportive husband who has a full time job and good benefits. I need to bring in 200 dollars a week in order to make it work financially for our family but even that has been proven difficult with my illness. I spend so much time in and out of drs offices and hospitals from complications from my meds that I have lost jobs, friends, and family. I am finally thanks to rawarrior's amazing blogs able to recognize my limitations but know that I am not alone whereas before I felt completely alone.

While I only have my husband and two friends who ever ask me "how are you feeling" or "can I help with anything" I understand that if it is so hard for me to emotionally handle that there must be so many of my friends that cannot emotionally handle it so its just easier to not ask. That is what my parents do, they don't ask because it brings them to tears to know the answer.

Monday I went to the zoo, all of the walking left me in so much pain that I had to stop at my parents house (half way between the zoo and my house) and lay flat on my back for two hrs before I could stand the 45 min drive to my house to take meds and then lay in bed with tears streaming down my face until 4am when I finally fell asleep. I still have trouble assessing what my limitations are and some days I am ashamed to say I can't do that but I am slowly mourning who I USED to be and acknowledging who I am today.

The other difficult thing is that I have been trying to conceive for 23.5 months now and between the fatigue and pain it is difficult to even be intimate let alone what life would be like pregnant and off meds. I so badly want a child, I feel like a mother without a child but with my AS I have to recognize that it will be difficult to conceive let alone giving up all of my meds and eventually caring for a child.

Thank you all for being there, it is always comforting to know that I am not on the journey alone.