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Has RA Forced Early Retirement or a Career Change?

Whether due to RA symptoms like pain and fatigue, circumstances like an unreliable schedule, or dealing with bosses who just didn't understand - we are looking for experiences with retiring or changing careers due to RA.

  1. At age 57, I retired from a career as a School Nurse. I loved my job, until I just couldn't do it anymore. I had a long difficult course to the RA Diagnosis. I was desperate for pain relief and beyond fatigued. Work was almost unbearable and all my symptoms were made worse by the stress of work and anxiety over lack of diagnosis and treatment. Every morning in the shower the Fire and Rain lyrics, "My body's aching and my time is at hand" would run through my head. I chose to retire less than a month before my diagnosis. My body and spirit were just burnt out. After diagnosis, my principal asked me to reconsider my decision, and I just couldn't. I thought maybe a year into treatment I'd regret leaving work. Nope. Treatment did not go as well as I expected and I found I wasn't feeling as well as I hoped. The ability to alter my schedule around my pain, fatigue and healthcare appointments has been essential for me. I also want this time with my grandchildren in case my mobility worsens over time. I realize every day how blessed I am that early retirement was an option for me.

    1. I haven’t worked since 2019 at the age of 59 when I was starting to feel as though I was free to really live for me. RA changed me in ways that I didn’t think was possible. I have since tried to grab every opportunity possible to change my perspective on how I was going to live through and with the diagnosis. I’m now 62 and the mental health and the physical health goes hand and hand to move forward and keep going no matter what. I live in Ohio and my body is the unpaid meteorologist for me. Is this what my Grandmother talked about and didn’t go into full details of what she was experiencing 🤔 This site is and can be life changing for anyone with RA. I live my life on a daily basis one day at a time and that’s how I get through 🙏🏼

    2. I had to stop working back in 2005 when I was still in my 20s, unfortunately. The absences and frequent days I had to take it easy just made it impossible to work for anyone else. It’s why I became a writer and fortunately I was able to eventually secure paid work (that I love, by the way, helping people), and it worked out. For a while there it was dicey, though, but like you I took one day at a time, slowed down, and things eventually clicked. It’s the mantra of living with RA - one day at a time! You are not alone. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  2. My work has always required extensive travel. But of course, there was no internet or Zoom when I started working. Someone once figured out that I spent 82% of my work time out of state, and later out of the country.
    I was diagnosed in 1992, before the biologics. MTX was barely helping. I knew I couldn't go on forever. It wasn't until about 2010 I decided it was just to hard to do business travel, and with technology so improved, there was no reason I couldn't work from home. So I planted the stake in the ground. Wish I was able to do it earlier. It was a life saver.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences! I started working from home once COVID hit, and I wish I would have known about it sooner, so I definitely understand where you're coming from. The advent of Zoom has made things more flexible and workable, too!

      Take care,

      David ( Contributor and Moderator)

  3. My RA hit me like a lightning bolt 4 months post major surgery & being told I may lose my job of 15yrs. didn’t lose the job, got RA under control, so to speak, but wound up retiring early.

    1. Hi, I had a very similar experience. I retired at 60 due to too much stress as a retired nurse that transitioned to Head Start teacher. My rheumatologist got me back on my feet within 3 months as I was diagnosed early and put in a research study receiving Methotrexate and Humira. But the expectations for the job were beyond my capacity. I loved working with the families but the lack of administrative support caused me to retire early. I always look for a positive with a negative. I was able to support my daughter in Maryland with a difficult pregnancy and birth!

    2. Hi . Great idea to find the way to turn the negative into something positive. Hoping your daughter and your grandchild are both doing well. Best, Richard ( Team)

  4. hi, so my retirement went a little bit different but ultimately included RA. In July 2017, my RA was active but I was still able to function untill I was given LIPITOR. I was having SOB, tightness in my chest, and couldn't do the stairs quickly like I was use to. I saw my Dr. for these ussues back in May and had been going through various tests. The last test I had was a Stimulated Stress test on June 28. On July 3rd I received a call from Dr. that I had heart issues and he had me start on LIPITOR. By July 9th I was in terrible pain all over and very weak. I was sent to hospital by ambulance, both my daughter and Paramedics gave me 2 asprin. There was no issue with my heart, so they sebt me home late that night.

    I went and saw my family Dr. as soon as could which wss Tuesday. He immediately said it's the LIPITOR. Sent me to hospital to be admitted and called in his order's.
    They were suppose to Start an IV but because a nurse told attending Dr. I was drinking water said to forget the IV. He wanted it on to glush out the med. I went home(to my daughters) on Friday but had to rent a Roll-a-tor walker as I couldn't walk without it.
    I barely made it up the stairs by sheer will.

    I ended up on sick leave from work for the full year. I turned 65 that next year and I knew then I wouldn't be able to work again I retired.

    The effects of the LIPITOR (my Rheumatologist said) triggered Fibromyalgia, diagnoised Jan 2018, then PMR, Polymyalgia Rheumatica, diagnosed July 2018. My RA became very active after that. I have tried a few new meds since but so far none have worked. Will be on Rinvoq starting September 3rd.

    I was forced into a complete retirement and no longer able to look after my mother which I had been doing since 2014 and before, which was traumatic for me. I required assistance myself for bathing and dressing for 2 years after this. I still struggle with the issues of dressing, bed making, but have adapted, although it does take me twice (or more) as long to do things myself.
    That was my job, a Personal Support Worker, PSW, in the community .

    My story

    1. you wrote this so honestly and passionately, thank you for sharing with us. I'm sorry that you were forced to end working before you were truly ready to do so. I know that you are facing the impact RA has created and it's a daily struggle. Thank you for being part of this community 💜 - Reggie, Team Member

    2. Thank you Reggie, for your kind words and support. It was a very hard trying time for me. Especially since I could no longer look after my mom.

      I struggle with fatigue pretty much all the time now. I hope and pray Rinvoq will help out with this along with controlling the RA. I really need a break right now.

      Thank you so very much, all of you.

      Blessings and Prayers

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