Can You Have It All With RA?
Last updated: August 2014
Recently there’s been a lot of talk about whether women can have careers AND families, and be good at both.
I think this is also an interesting question when it comes to chronic illness, and specifically, RA.
Can you have family and a career AND RA?
I certainly would like to think so.
And I’m going to ignore the family piece, because I don’t really have experience with that yet.
But I now have experience being in a full-time work situation, and have discovered that it is harder than I had imagined.
Being a student, I only have class a few hours a week and spend most of the rest of the time doing homework and assignments. But aside from the time that I actually spend in class, I can do my work at home, in my pajamas.
So can you have a career AND RA?
Many of the people that I know with chronic illnesses are self-employed.
On the one hand, this is great because you can make your own hours, take off days when you don’t feel well, and can work from home, in your pajamas, if you have to.
On the other hand, you might not have a consistent paycheck, and you are probably paying astronomical amounts of money out of pocket for insurance, if you have insurance at all.
To me, the realities of not having a consistent paycheck and the lack of insurance, is extremely anxiety provoking, and I wonder if that worry is worth the benefits of being self-employed.
On the other hand, I also wonder if having a more traditional, 9 to 5 job is sustainable when you have RA.
I am currently working 9 to 5 four days per week. And it is completely exhausting. I absolutely love what I’m doing, which is great, but during the week, that’s pretty much all I can do. And then the weekends become bogged down with whatever I couldn’t get done during the week, and attempting to catch up on the rest.
Granted, these are internships, so I’m not getting paid, but if I was, I would have a consistent paycheck, and most likely, health benefits, which are obviously incredibly important.
Those two things are pretty hard to pass up in terms of feeling safe and secure.
But I am completely exhausted. I sort of wonder, if when school starts again, if I will feel like I am getting a break.
I’ve always known that I won’t be a student forever, but I never really considered what it would be like to no longer be a student, and the perks that come with it that I will lose, as a result.
In some ways, being a graduate student is more flexible that being a full-time employee.
It’s really a struggle because I love what I’m doing right now, so that makes the exhaustion worth it.
But I wonder whether that is sustainable for the next however many years I end up working for.
And I find myself questioning the feasibility of both being self-employed and having a full-time job.
They both have their pros and cons.
So I guess I’m back to the original question: Can you have RA and have it all? I wish I knew the answer, but I’m not so sure.
Did you know rheumatologist Dr. Donica Baker is answering community questions?
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