RA and Work: How I Handle Flares
Working a full-time job with rheumatoid arthritis is a unique experience for each individual. The way it is managed depends on various factors, such as the nature of the job and the frequency of flare-ups. However, one's outlook also plays a significant role.
Personally, I consider myself fortunate to be a part owner in a family business. We have a close-knit team, with even non-family members caring for each other like relatives. This is extremely beneficial for me, as they understand the challenges of living with a chronic disease that can abruptly disrupt my physical abilities.
During difficult times of pain, it is crucial for me to communicate effectively with my colleagues. I find it best to inform them as soon as I sense a flare-up approaching. By doing so, they have ample time to prepare and adjust their expectations before the pain becomes overwhelming. Having witnessed me struggle with mobility in the office, my co-workers can identify the signs of discomfort.
When a flare-up occurs, I strive to continue with my regular work activities as much as possible. Each flare-up is unique, and by maintaining a normal workflow, I instill trust in my colleagues that I will not abandon my responsibilities at the first sign of discomfort. In truth, I can work through some flare-ups, and I believe it is important to do so. This earns the respect of my co-workers, so when I am forced to rest due to a severe flare-up, they understand the severity and are willing to assist.
Even when I am in excruciating pain and confined to bed, I make an effort to contribute to work. I take my laptop home with me and try to accomplish small tasks remotely. This not only benefits my team but also portrays my determination to not give up and burden them with all the work.
In my opinion, having the perseverance to endure is crucial. I also believe in putting in extra effort when I am feeling good, so that my colleagues are enthusiastic about helping me when my pain does slow me down. Taking one's job responsibilities seriously is important, and I hope that every person living with rheumatoid arthritis will give their all every day, tailored to their individual capabilities. Approaching work in a manner that earns the respect of colleagues has a positive impact on how we, as individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, are perceived. I aspire for all of us with rheumatoid arthritis to be recognized as resilient, because that is truly what we are.