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Can You Have It All With RA?

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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Jane Burbach
    5 years ago

    I have recently diagnosed but long standing RA and have managed to build a 25 year career with the last 8 years in self employment. I also have two teenagers who I have raised alone for the most part.

    I would say a career is possible depending on the severity of your disease. While I have a 25 year career, there have been periods of time when I was completely disabled. Which is difficult whether you are employed or self employed. I’ve only been on meds for a year and I’m better but it also depends on the course one’s particular disease takes.

    As far as health insurance goes, something like 75% of the people with ACA policies think favorably of the coverage, etc. And there are no longer preexisting condition exclusions.

    As far as family life goes with children, having a supportive spouse who empathizes with the effects of the illness would be helpful, as well as family and friends who don’t mind helping out.

    I haven’t had a good support network and think it would have made all the difference in the world as I raised my children. I became ill at a pivotal time in their lives and they have had to work through resentment and forgiveness. It’s a work in progress.

    Anyway, it’s all possible but depends on one’s individual illness and support system.

  • Jane Burbach
    5 years ago

    Please ignore my ggrammar and typing errors. I’m on my phone and was distracted. 🙂

  • Ali
    5 years ago

    Also think it is different for everyone.

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    5 years ago

    Ali, I agree that it is different for everyone, but I am hearing similar sentiments from others with RA all too often. I would love to hear from someone who does it all and maintains their health.

  • Ali
    5 years ago

    Very well said! People don’t get it unless they have it.

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