You might be surprised that I actually think about working from time to time. I know that I spend a lot of time here at OMA&P! talking about all the chronic illnesses I manage and sharing my tips for making life more fibro-friendly. I perhaps have failed to mention that prior to life with fibromyalgia, chronic pain and fatigue, I worked full time for over 10 years when I only had type 2 diabetes, chronic Hepatitis C and cancer survivorship issues. Unfortunately fibromyalgia has been the deal breaker, disabling me and making me unable to work. But that doesn't stop me from wondering every once in a while: What if, one day, I could go back to work?
You see, the truth is I miss going to work each day. And I miss much more than the paycheck. I miss the social interaction, having colleagues and spending my lunch and break times socializing with other people. I miss the sense of accomplishment I got working on tasks, projects and from getting things done. I miss developing my career, gaining experience, moving along my career path and striving towards my long term goals.
What would it take for me to go back to work in my current condition? I'm not entirely sure, but I have some thoughts on the subject. My preliminary list of requirements for working while disabled include
A job I can do from home
Hours that I set for myself
Tasks that are amenable to being done in 15 minute work sessions
Control of deadlines or due dates, so I can give myself plenty of time to complete tasks and review my work before I submit it
The ability to set work aside for a day or a week (or two) when I get a cold/flu, brain fog or a fibromyalgia flare-up
A back-up plan to potentially hand off an assignment to someone else if I am unable to complete it on time
Projects that use my hands sparingly, so as not to aggravate my thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms
Work that doesn't require a lot of time on the telephone
Assignments that are simple, straight-forward and require only a moderate amount of brain power
And lastly, at this time, a position that only require up to 5 hours of work per week
To be honest, I am not sure what kind of job fits this list of requirements. Even if I could find a job that fits, I would need to consider what other activities would I have to give up in order to fit work into the available energy I possess. I estimate, using the rating scale at the CFIDS and Fibromyalgia Self Help website, that my current level of functioning averages around 30% of my previous, healthy normal. What that means, in practical terms, I that I have moderate to severe symptoms almost all the time, I am able to leave the house several times a week (but not daily), I can do around 2 hours of activities a day and I require many rest breaks during the day. Realistically, I probably need to be closer to 50 and 60% of normal for work to really be a possibility.
This whole exercise seems to reinforce my initial thoughts that my ability to return to work is dependent on an improvement in my symptoms and level of functioning. But that won't stop me from wondering right now what my life might be like if I just got 20 to 30% better, another big "what if?" Despite all the uncertainty about my future health, I refuse to give up hope and stop wondering "what if?" After all, what if your thoughts create your reality? If I have a choice, and I always do, I chose to believe that one day I will figure out how to go back to work despite my disabilities. Perhaps all I need is some more time to figured out what jobs work for me now and how I'll get them.
Do you ever think about what it would take to go back to work now that you are disabled? Share your thoughts on the subject by leaving me a comment.