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Working with Chronic Illness

I had a conversation with a customer a few day ago about chronic illness. He was recently diagnosed with MS and still getting used to it. He was using a Alberta service to get back into the work force fitting his new needs. Because you have to work, to have something to do... long way to retirement and we are still fit enough, capable enough to do so.

I though about that and thought... damn straight. Yes, we have a chronic illness... or more than one as the case may be. And yes it is difficult to cope with and we have to know our limits and moderate our activities. And yes this does factor into what jobs we can actually attain in the first place, and how much work we can actually do. BUT, we have a lot to offer. We are capable in many ways. We get a lot of benefits from working. We have the desire, the motivation, the need often even... so there is no reason we should not get assistance to be placed in a job that would work best for us.

He helped me see it is a better light that I currently was. Which was... tormenting myself to get through the day. Working for the sake of working because apparently I am functional enough to work just enough. Although just enough in my case is part time, so I should not even be working full time. I think that is why my outlook is rather negative because I am exceeding my limits every day and it is beginning to have an impact. One impact seems to be I keep getting sick. Horrible flu. Then this virus that attacked my the casing around the heard. It is because I am tired, stressed and my immune system is suffering.

But this customer reminded me that we are people with health problems, but we are Not those health problems. We have a right to have a life like everyone else does. It is harder to manage in some ways, but we learn to adapt and cope. Work is one of those aspects that we want to attain and have to find something that works around our disability, or with it I should say. I liked the way he looked at it. I believe he is well on his way to coping well.

The main problem is finding that perfect Balance. A job you can sustain that does not make your health worse, and thus you perform well and do not miss work. That is difficult to find. Especially with chronic pain, that seems to just be so present all the time. Not saying it isn't possible, especially since there are some good employers out there. Just finding them is difficult.

I do know if we do not find the right balance we often exceed our coping, by pushing through the pain to work. We cut out other things in order to manage to get to work and then crash at home. Like cut out socializing and leisure activities. Using all your energy to get through work. And this never works for long. You burn out. Trust me. Happened to me often and went on short term leaves over and over and over again as a result. This is precisely what we should Not do. We need the right balance.

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