I’ve been sitting on the idea of this post for a while, not sure if I really wanted to write on this topic because I feel like I’m complaining. What made me decide to write about working with a chronic health condition was simple: I got another one of my monster headaches and was out of commission for two days.
My entire adult life has been plagued with annoying headaches. But that’s all they’ve been: stupid pains in the head. Now that I’m entering a new “stage of maturity”, these annoyances have become nearly debilitating migraines that last 2 days and come on every 10-14 days.
My doctor calls this a chronic health condition.
And here I thought I was just going through the typical headaches a lot of women experience.
There is no way I can compare my headaches to the chronic health condition anyone else goes through, nor do I wish to minimize any illnesses. My husband is a stage 4 colorectal cancer SURVIVOR. He knows what it’s like to have a chronic health condition. I will never compare my crummy migraines to what he has gone through…there is no comparison. And I cannot compare what I go through to what any of you go through.
I know my headaches eventually go away and some day (hopefully soon), they will cease all together.
So I hope you believe me when I say this: I know what it’s like working with a chronic health condition. Or, I should say, NOT working with a chronic health condition. I honestly don’t think I could work a regular 9-5 job. Who would hire someone that calls in sick every 10-14 days and is out for at least a day ? It’s times like this when I am truly thankful I have a flexible, remote job.
Since I started working from home (which was not the result of my migraines, as I talk about on this page), I have come to realize that having a chronic illness doesn’t mean I cannot work. In fact, I can work, and successfully, too.
I’m able to work because I acknowledge these 6 things:
What I do When My Chronic Health Condition Rears Its Ugly Head
#1 I Know My Limits
When I feel a migraine coming on, I go down fast. I used to continue working even when I felt that familiar spark behind my right eye, thinking I could keep going and get a lot of work done. I pushed myself to the point of making mistakes and starting things I wasn’t able to finish. It took me a while to realize this, but now I know my limits. I know that little spark means it’s time to quit. Put it all away and start out fresh when I’m well again. I know that I can’t be my usual self, like I was yesterday,
But what about my family? They still need attention so I manage the house in a very modified way. I make sure to have plenty of “heat and eat” dinners in the freezer. I rely on friends and relatives to help with the little things. And when they’re not available, I muster up the strength to do what needs to be done, making sure to have a barf bag handy 🙂 . Seriously.
#2 I Accept My Plans And Goals Will Change
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to change my plans because of one of my headaches. I hate doing that. It’s a bummer because I know someone will be disappointed, but I just can’t go through with the plans. When it comes to setting goals, like last Friday I wanted to write a new article for this blog, I have to concede to the pain welling up in my head. I didn’t get that article written. I just have to accept the fact that my plans and goals WILL change.
#3 I know There Will Be A Backlog
Not being able to work for a day or two causes things to pile-up. For me, being a self-employed blogger means I have to work extra hard to get an article out. That means researching, writing, and editing have to be done on what I would normally consider “my” time. And if I was fortunate enough to be an employee of a schedule-flexible company, I’m pretty sure I would have a backlog of work that had to be done NOW.
Not only will my work load accumulate, my everyday life tasks will too. I’ve learned to pad in some time to make sure to catch up on whatever needs catching up on.
#4 I Look For Flexibility
The ideal job is one that is totally flexible. Being able to work the schedule that suits me would be the best way to cater to my chronic health condition. Setting my hours, being able to take care of my health needs, and still retain a job can be accomplished easier than a lot of people think. A lot of companies are proud of their flexible (and remote) work environment, like Automattic, Hubstaff, Modern Tribe, Zappier, The Search Monitor, and Upworthy. Work at home jobs in transcription and teaching EFL (teaching English as a foreign language) are awesome ways to work whenever I am well.
#5 I Know It’s Coming So I Don’t Stress
That nagging thought “today is day 12, will I have one tomorrow ???” kind of stressed me out. I would anticipate the pain at any moment, not knowing if I should cancel tomorrow’s plans or not. You know what ? That was a real pain in the rump. One day I just decided to quit fretting the migraine that was lurking around the corner. When it hits, I’ll deal with it.There’s nothing else I can do. Besides, everyone I know understands how poorly I feel on my migraine days and they are all pretty forgiving.
#6 When I’m Well, I’m Good
I treasure the good days. The days I’m feeling well are 180 degrees from my bad headache days. The good days are the ones that take the majority of the work load. I become a work horse on these days. Ok, a little bit of a stretch of my imagination there, but in all seriousness I do my best to get a lot of work done. I tell myself “do it while you can, girlie” which, I believe, is a good attitude to have because it makes the bad days a little less guilt-filled.
How Do You Handle Working With A Chronic Health Condition?
We’re not immune from bad days. And when we have to make a living while dealing with a chronic illness or health condition, it can take a toll on our bodies. The 6 things I’ve outlined above help me cope with my condition, making it easier to see that I can take care of myself and still work.
I would love to know how you work with your chronic health condition. What kind of work do you do? What do you do to get through each day ? Please let me know in the comments.