Friday, June 12, 2009

Getting it All Done Friday (or Sorting It All Out Saturday): Fibromyalgia on the Job

I am a bit late for my Getting It All Done Friday post, but this is a good a time as any. (I can always call it Sorting It All Out Saturday.) Most of my followers know that suffer from fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis: two conditions my employers are unaware that I have. One thing that I always stress about suffering from these conditions or any chronic pain condition is that support and education are essential. I also wish that someone or something had warned me about pushing myself and ignoring my symptoms for so many years. One significant factor is that I am finding it quite difficult to hide my condition as well I did previously. I am smart enough to understand that my flare-ups are a result of a combination of stress, contorted positions and repetitive motions. While I can focus my own ways not to allow my condition to affect my job, I work in a high-pressure environment. However, other factors and persons are not in my control. You guessed it; I am in an administrative position as a legal assistant and I cannot control the stress that others bring with them; I can only train myself to respond better.

I have not yet concluded that it the time to approach my employers is here. However, I have taught myself ways to deal with my symptoms and not allow them to interfere with my work. Here are some pointers that I have come across in my research to make my workday a less painful experience.

• Give your body a break, especially if you sit in a sustained position or a job requires contact repetitive movement.
• Turn away from your computer every twenty to thirty minutes to relax your neck and rest your eyes.
• Get up and walk around to get your body moving and focus back on track.
• Arrange your work area so you have access to all the things you need so that you are not consistently moving.
• Pace yourself. Do not attempt to take on everything at once. Pacing and scheduling are very important.
• Make sure your computer screen is the correct height so you do not have to stress your neck to see your screen.
• If you talk on the phone a lot, a headset is a good way to keep you from straining and putting pressure on your neck and shoulders.
• Install an anti-glare screen for your computer monitor.
• Allow your chair to be your back support. Keep your arms at a 90-degree angle to your keyboard. Keep your feet straight and allow yourself legroom to strength your legs often.
• Make use of a document holder so you are straining your neck to see your document.
• Breathing techniques can so along way to easing stress.
• Getting up to stretch often and practicing movement therapies can go a long way in making your day less painful.

The following video offers some more insight on assistance that employers can provide and ways that employees can take control of their symptoms and manage their conditions.

Fibromyalgia can make one’s life difficult and it can put a strain on one’s career, but I am leaving proof that adjustment and understanding can go a long way. I am not required tell my employers about my conditions because I do not have a full disability. When and if I feel the time has come, I will. For now, I have fibromyalgia and RA but it does not mean that fibromyalgia or RA have me. I take charge of my life everyday and my job is my key to keeping it that way. RA and Fibromyalgia do not own me, define me or even change me. Yes, I have bad days and I have bad flare-ups, but I move forward and I listen my body. Sometimes it tells me to rest and sometimes, it tells I can on more. That is the biggest lesson of any chronic pain condition and every pain condition has roadblocks. There are times when you cannot knock those roadblocks down so you just have to find alternative routes.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I'm trying hard to get back to my career, and I feel, ironically, that one of my biggest obstacles is my doctor who doesn't believe I should try it yet. It has been four years since I left! I've only gotten worse, so I don't see how waiting any longer will make it easier.

    In any case, I will use these tips you provided!

    Thanks for having such an informative page! :)

    -RA SB


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