How does a person with Fibromyalgia keep a job?!

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-13-2012
How does a person with Fibromyalgia keep a job?!
6
Wed, 03-06-2013 - 8:45am

Please tell me how you manage to keep a job and raise a family while suffering from Fibromyalgia. :(

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-06-2000

The short answer is you just do, but of course that's not exactly helpful, even if it is essentially true.  It's hard (understatement) to juggle work, kids, marriage, etc., when you are exhausted and in pain all the time.  It's made more difficult by the fact that no one can "see" what's wrong with you and there's a huge lack of public education about FM and people who suffer from it.  There's a perception that we are just lazy, love taking meds, don't want to work, etc., but the truth is, it is enourmously difficult to function until you find a good treatment plan.  AND, everyone is different, so my plan may not work for you and vise versa.  It's frustration to say the least.

I'd say the first thing you need to do is get a good doctor and work on managing your pain and other symptoms so you can function as well as possible.  You need to be fairly disciplined with your sleep schedule, diet, exercise, and managing stress.  What works for me is a fairly healthy diet, getting about 7 hours of sleep a night, doing yoga and running on the eliptical about 2 days each a week, and resting when I'm tired.  I know that sounds easy, but trust me, it's not!  I would rather go out with my kids or friends, but somedays, I need to lay on the couch and watch TV, read, soak in the tub, etc.  I also see a chiropractor/Chinese medicine doctor who does deep tissue massage, electrical stim, lasers, adjustments, and herbal treatments to help me manage my pain; I go every 2 weeks.  I take Tramadol 50mg 1-2X a day, extra strength Tylenol with it, and flexeril at bedtime.  I also take vitamin D and B 12 injections to treat deficiencies.  It is a lot to maintain, for sure, but I'm able to work 3 - 4, 12 hour shifts a week, look after my son, go out with my friends, and enjoy my life.  I even bought a motorcycle last year and I love every minute.  Sure, there are days when I just can't do what I want, even riding my bike is too hard, but I have more days where I feel good.  The other thing is coming here to vent and get advise!  It really helps you feel better knowing you are not alone and other people are having the same problems.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask!  

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-13-2012

You bought a motorcycle and ride a bike??? I am very impressed!

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-06-2000
I love it, though there are days when I just can't ride my bike due to pain, balance issues, etc. I work around what I can and when I can't do what I want, I just think about all the things I CAN do.
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-19-2007

I worked for 10 years with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue: Depending on your benefits at work, you can try various things. I was in the Federal Government so I went on part-time whereby I took one day of LWOP (leave without pay so as not to affect my pension) in the middle of the week. This helped a lot. I also joined a gym near my work and lots of stretching and light weights similiar to the ones suggested on this site. Also, one of the gyms had a hot tub, so that was beneficial relief.

As it progressed or work became more stressful, with permission from the Health Canada doctor and my own doctor's letter, I switched to flexible hours as some mornings the pain was severe, so time was made up later in the day. In the winter time, with pain travelling, I was able to get a handi-cap sticker for my car. Work stress played a lot into and having a boss in the end that did not support working with persons with a disability, etc., of which I won some compensation via my union, did not help. Eventually, after 10 years I went on long term disability, was approved for a medical retirement. The approval of my retirement and pension plan disability was evident with all the sick leave and annual leave that was constantly being used up.

If you can not find a job with benefits, then it becomes more difficult, unless you have a sympethetic boss. Fibromyalgia is a disability and most states and provinces it is the law: employers have to abide by these laws when empoyin persons with disabilities.

Hope some of this helps.

anonymous
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2012

I have been working all my life even before Fibromyalgia so I felt awful not working and having all day on my hands to feel the pain. Work helps me to forget about being disabled for a while. I have both Fibro and Chronic fatigue so some days it can be a challenge to get going.

 I get up a couple hours before I need to leave to ease into my day. This keeps the stress level down which so affects my pain level. It also gives my pain meds time to kick in and to take a hot shower to loosen my stiff joints. On SSID you are allowed to work or make up to 800 a month without getting in trouble. I didn't work for a few years after going on Disability but found it to be making me feel worse. I started not getting up at an early hour, showering and getting out of the house. I put weight on and felt in a slump. A friend asked me if I wanted to work a few hours a week as a Caregiver. I said yes and I have worked from 2 -4 hours a day since then. I get paid cash because it is easier and right now I work 2 hours a day in the mornings 6 days a week. I think 5 days would be better but I don't have a reliable back up.

 I go visit a 90 year old woman and do some light housework, empty trash, do dishes, make her bed , take her to appointments, do a little shopping, etc. I generally stay with the person until they pass on and I am on my 7th client now. The family likes knowing I am checking in daily on their Mother and she likes the company. I recently saved her life by noticing she was just not looking right and briought her in to the ER. She had early pnemonia and was inpatient for a few days but lived. I think Caregiving has helped me to do something positive each day for someone else and get paid for it. I am not married and living on disability is hard to do. This helps me have a little money to put into my old car or get something I want or need. The pay is 15 dollars an hour or around that and no more then 4 hours a day is what I can comfortably do with fibro. There is no way I could work 8 hours but 2 is perfect. Just thought I would mention caregiving as a job that is something a fibromite can handle and even enjoy doing.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2000

You just do.  I feel fortunate that I was diagnosed by an internationally acclaimed doctor who ran the fibro clinic at GU in DC.  Fibromyalgia was presented in a more positive light than what I hear some of you saying.  Therefore, my overall attitude was positive.  That was over 25 years ago,  Even when I moved from the DC area to a tourist area in the south, I've been able to find great doctors who are willing to keep me on the same plan I've been on for years.  It took a lot to figure out what meds work best for me.  I think a lot is your general attitude ... how do you get up and go to work?  Your feet hit the floor and you soak in a  hot tub or shower, stretch your body out, get dressed, and go for it.  It also helps if you LOVE your job and what you are doing;  I need less pain meds when I'm working because I'm so busy and engaged in something other than how crappy I may feel.  I work 6 days a week -- by choice -- because I'm passionate about the cases I handle.  Not much time for exercise ... but great to keep the mind on other things.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but FM (and previously CFS) just has to move out of my way because I am going to do what I love and love what I do and I don't have time for foolishment, muscle spasms, and limitations.  I am on the green side of 60 now, and I've been knocked on my butt a few times by CFS and later FM, but it doesn't define who I am and who I want to be. So ,,, just live your life with as much gusto as you can and you may find there are things more important than how you feeo to give your energy to!