Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
RA Snapshot: End of a Workday

RA Snapshot: End of a Workday

With relief, I finally make it to the end of my workday. All day long I have tried to focus on the task at hand, rather than the pain, and shake off the remnants of last night’s medications. I am proud that I not only made it through the day but actually accomplished some work in the midst of all the hurt. I didn’t always take time to acknowledge my strength for making it through a painful work day, but in the 18 years since being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease [RA/RD], I have learned to recognize the grit I have developed. Therefore, I celebrate the accomplishment of completing a day of work.

Locking and popping of joints

That is, I celebrate until I stand up from my desk, knees and hips popping, and put my work bag on my shoulder. Wincing, I feel the weight of the bag not only on my shoulder but also on all the joints below my waist carrying my weight. I am careful not to make my bag too heavy with contents, yet RA/RD multiplies weight exponentially, making ounces feel like pounds.

With a deep breath, I start making my way toward the stairs that lead down to the school’s parking lot. My body wants to limp, but as both hips and knees are hurting there is no side to favor; even if I could limp it would only throw my body out of alignment and create additional problems. So I try to walk straight and tall, albeit gingerly and slowly.

RA daydreams: gliding through the air

For a moment I daydream about how wonderful it would be if I could fly through the air, gliding to my car, rather than go down the staircase. However, as my body doesn’t spontaneously develop the ability to hover in the air, I descend the steps. I go slowly, one stair at a time, both feet sharing a step before attempting the next one. With some distaste, I hold onto the handrail. I am aware that it is cold and flu season and my suppressed immune system has a hard time fighting off germs. Wondering how many schoolchildren have touched this rail without washing their hands today, I decide the risk of not holding onto the railing and potentially hurting myself, even more, outweighs the risk of germs. I will use hand sanitizer once I, finally, make it to the car.

As I hoist my bag into the passenger seat and then hoist myself into my minivan, I feel a moment of relief at not only making it through the workday but also making it to my vehicle. However, the relief is temporary, for as soon as I apply pressure to the brake pedal a fresh jolt of pain surges into my inflamed right hip. I take a deep breath, wonder momentarily how quickly self-driving cars will become the norm, and drive, steeling myself for the home and family tasks that still await before I can close out this day.

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

Comments

  • spljoy
    3 months ago

    Thank you for noting that we who continue to work should be proud of ourselves for doing so but that we pay a price for doing so. Hours on the phone or typing can seem mundane to others but can result in hours or even days of pain for those of us with invisible illnesses. Hopefully, you are patting yourself on the back for working, that is if reaching back to do so doesn’t hurt too much.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    3 months ago

    Hi spljoy,

    Yes, it is important to congratulate ourselves on our minor-to-others-but-major-to-us accomplishments! I was diagnosed at the age of 22, and I spent far too long comparing myself to my peers and being hard on myself. Now that I’m approaching two decades post-diagnosis I am finally getting significantly better at celebrating what I manage to do versus lamenting what I can’t do (again, it’s a work in progress).

    I know exactly what you mean about how hard it can be to do desk work. You may find you can relate to this article as well: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/trying-sit-pretty/. It’s about how painful it can be to sit at a desk job.

    Thank you for sharing, as it is so helpful to know that our challenges are not ours alone.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Tamara

  • starscream
    3 months ago

    I’ve discovered that a full backpack which I only load as much as a purse is much easier to hold. I’m lucky to have an elevator at work. I get to walk eight blocks to the nearest subway which really feels good especially in the cold. So the stiffness is much better before dealing with the subway steps. On days when I drive to work at a different location it is all pain and I never loosen up. I have to force myself to pace in the library or one of the halls. It’s hard to force myself to start walking but once I do it feels much better.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    3 months ago

    Thanks for sharing, starscream! It’s always so fascinating to hear other people’s experiences, as RA/RD can treat people so similarly and yet so differently. For instance, my joints hate the cold, but they do feel better with some movement.

    I appreciate you sharing what helps you as well as the challenges you face.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Tamara

  • adramsey
    3 months ago

    This mirrors my usual workday. I am so tired and sore by the end of the day that I just want to go to bed when I get home.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    3 months ago

    Hey adramsey,

    I feel you, literally! Thanks for sharing, and I wish you as comfortable an evening as possible.

    Gentle hugs,
    Tamara

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    3 months ago

    Oh I feel it for you Tamara. When I worked, I would have the same end of day ritual, except my space was close to the door and my backpack was usually light.

    The worst part of my day however was always the drive and walk in. Wow the wobble up the walk to door was tough. Heres to home, sweat pants and sweat shirt, I still look forward to that every day work or no.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    3 months ago

    Thanks for sharing, Rick! I have a plan for write more of the snapshots of a time of day, and the mornings are definitely one of them! Yes, here’s to sweats and the comforts of home. Wishing you all the best, Tamara

  • Poll