Working – Does It Ever End?

Within the last few weeks, a troubling thought has come to the forefront. Despite my best efforts and lots of prayers, it remains with me. I do not want to have to work another 9 years so I can afford to retire. And I wonder if I will physically, let alone mentally, be able to work.

Changing jobs to accommodate RA limitations

My career is my calling. I have worked as a registered nurse for thirty-four years. As my RA has progressed, I have changed jobs to accommodate my limitations. I currently serve as a parish/faith community nurse at a local church. My job entails case management, work with seniors, calls and visitation, education, transportation to MD appointments, monthly senior luncheons, and several committees.

I also serve on the Executive Committee for the Council on Aging in our county. I originally started part-time and fought for a full-time position with benefits 2 years ago. The church has been very kind and tolerant of my illnesses. I am blessed to have this position.

Questioning my career

However, I am struggling. I have been working from home since March 16, 2020. I usually start the week okay but, by Thursday, I am beat. Just getting through Thursday and Friday takes monumental effort! Add to that my non-existent ability to do housework and it can seem glum. Never have I questioned my calling as a nurse. Never. Until now.

Managing the emotions of RA's impact on my calling

I am not depressed. I am angry. Angry that because of RA, I do not have the energy or drive that I used to have. Angry, because once again, I feel like my body is letting me down. I “percolated” on this all night and this morning. Then I realized I needed to write and share with this community that understands. As I wrote, something new was revealed.

Learning new tasks despite RA's challenges

In the two months that I have been working from home, I have had to learn so much! As you know, brain fog and pain impede learning capacity. I started out at home in an RA flare. And a change of meds! Listed below are all the things I have done and learned:

  • Two new programs installed on my laptop.
  • Zoom meetings, attending, scheduling and hosting.
  • Constant Contact program, including developing new templates and creating email lists
  • Researching four websites daily for COVID-19 updates, creating data tables and sharing with groups.
  • Attending a virtual symposium and multiple webinars.
  • Digested 30 pages of Phased Re-opening Plan for my county.

Now it begins to make sense! No wonder my brain is coming up with alternate scenarios. In addition, I am typically an extrovert and like lots of hugs. Those needs have definitely not been met. How are you doing during these times?

Coping and adapting to these changes

Now that I have reasons for my apathy, it no longer has a stranglehold on me. I am sure it will flare every so often, but I understand now. I am grateful that I can still work. I know many of you are not able to work and it is difficult. So on those tough days, even when it is just tough getting from the bed to the bathroom, how do you remind yourself that there is still hope?

Recognizing my strengths and accomplishments

Remind yourself that you should only compare you to you. In other words, it does not matter if someone else can walk five miles a day. For me, walking to the mailbox and back is a banner day. And on those bad days, if I can make it to the bathroom and back to bed without falling or peeing on the floor, I have scored a touchdown for that very bad, no good day!

You will read many stories here. I have gained wisdom, humor, and encouragement from all the stories. When I start to feel like I do not measure up, I remind myself that getting up and going is a win every day, even when the going may be slow and arduous.

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