Working with a chronic illness is difficult to say the least. Even though we are in pain, feel fatigued, juggling doctor appointments, etc. we still may have to work. We still have bills to pay and most likely have a pile of medical bills we have to pay. We want to work. We don't want handouts. Life doesn't stop when someone has a chronic illness. We may have to put our dreams and careers on hold because of our chronic illness. If this is you, know that you are more than your illness. You are more than your job. You are more than what you are physically able to do.
It's important that we find a job we can do physically so that we don't further exacerbate the symptoms we are experiencing. With endometriosis, if I worked for eight hours a day standing on my feet, my pelvic pain intensified and worsened. I was exhausted, fatigued, had nausea and headaches. This is why I haven't been able to work full time in the last five or more years as a pharmacist or pharmacy technician. I haven't had a job more than a couple of months since 2013 because of my health.
I am now working in a local restaurant office for about five hours a day Monday through Friday. I'm able to sit most of the day verses standing on my feet. I haven't been experiencing pelvic pain and I attribute that to not standing while I work. I thought after withdrawing from pharmacy school that I would never find something else that I would like, but I have. I'm a nerd and enjoy numbers, spreadsheets, and working on computers. I took Accounting classes in high school and college, but never really considered doing anything with it until this opportunity came up, which I'm thankful for.
It's important that we put our health first even while working. It should be okay to ask for accommodations. If you feel like you're having to jeopardize your health for you job, it's okay to speak up for yourself and even quit if that's what you need to do. It has been hard to recognize where my health is and to quit school and work when I needed to. It's hard speaking up for myself, but if I don't, people won't know what I'm going through or help if they can or are willing to.
If you're not able to work, that's okay, too. You are more important than a paycheck. It's okay to apply for disability and ask for help. Know that you are not alone.
Here are five tips that I think are important:
I hope you find this helpful.
Picture from: urgentcarefl.com
Samantha Bowick, MPH is the author of "Living with Endometriosis: The Complete Guide to Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment Options" and "Living with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency" as well as a fellow sufferer of multiple chronic illnesses and patient advocate.