Old 07-02-2015, 12:55 PM #1 (permalink)
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Default Balancing work and fibromyalgia

I am a newbie to fibromyalgia. I am curious how people balance work with fibromyalgia.

I was just diagnosed with fibromyalgia last May - I think I was lucky and got diagnosed within 6 months of symptoms, so I really have just a short experience of living with it.

I told my boss and a few trusted coworkers about my diagnosis - they have been very supportive. (unfortunately there are other people in our organization who are less trustworthy) Right now we are in the middle of an all hands on deck, high stakes problem. There is a certain pleasure in working on a good, tight team to solve a real problem, which is why I work in this field. On the other hand, the stress is definitely impacting my pain level. I am also having more trouble sleeping.

Any tips out there on managing work and fibromyalgia?
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Old 07-02-2015, 03:41 PM #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Balancing work and fibromyalgia

I am struggling with the same problem right now DK. I am seriously considering a new career path, moving towards something that is low stress and not extremely physical. I have no idea what that will be yet, but I know that my job isn't going to become less stressful and I must find something else.
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Old 07-02-2015, 05:01 PM #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Balancing work and fibromyalgia

Sadly a lot of us have to stop working, I think asking your Dr tog ive u a good med to help u sleep well will help u cope a lot better.more sleep good sleep less pain.
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Old 07-02-2015, 09:13 PM #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Balancing work and fibromyalgia

I'm sorry to hear so many have had to stop working or are close to it. I guess that possibility is something I should be prepared for. I will focus on getting enough sleep.
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Old 07-02-2015, 09:16 PM #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Balancing work and fibromyalgia

Dizzyray, if you figure out a good career path I'd be interested what it is... I am the main breadwinner for my family and the idea I might not be able to work is a little frightening.
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Old 07-02-2015, 10:33 PM #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Balancing work and fibromyalgia

Hi DK, I'm still learning how to balance fibro and life/work, so I'd be interested in how others do it. My job as a nurse is mentally & physically stressful, but I love it and would never want another job. I delegate the hard physical tasks when I can, take my meds, breathe, and pace myself even if that means coming in on my day off to finish charting. If you feel the same about your job, as it sounds like you do, I hope you find a way to stay.
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Old 07-03-2015, 03:39 PM #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Balancing work and fibromyalgia

Thanks wisgrl - I do love my job, and I also work with some really great people. I am an engineer in a manufacturing facility. Making things is not nearly as important as taking care of people (like you do), but I do feel I have a calling to keep our little plant competitive to preserve jobs and help the local economy. Hearing you are able to keep working at such a demanding job gives me hope.

My job can be pretty stressful - usually I'm trying to figure out how to fix a tough problem with a lot of time pressure. Over the years I've gotten used to working under pressure. But now stress that feels normal to my mind makes my body hurt. I like your suggestion to breathe - it is so easy to forget! Pacing and delegation can be a real challenge; that is probably a good place for me to focus on improving. Right now swimming is what is keeping me going.
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Old 07-05-2015, 03:34 AM #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Balancing work and fibromyalgia

Hi Adam,
fibromyalgia hit me kind of suddenly. Last January I played indoor soccer every week and jogged or walked every other day. I was starting to have symptoms, pain in my hands and wrists, but it was subtle enough that I just kept plugging away at life as normal. Then I had a really severe flare up that pretty much disabled me from doing even simple tasks, much less being able to drive or work effectively. While I was waiting for a diagnosis I was trying I tried swimming and found it made a huge improvement. Other gentle exercises like walking or riding a bike are not nearly as effective, though they do help.

I swim every day I can (usually 5 days a week), followed by some time in the hot tub and/or sauna when I focus on breathing and stretching. I usually get about 30 minutes of walking in too. Repetitive motions are a problem, especially for my fingers and wrists. My boss is very supportive and approved a special keyboard, mouse pad and voice recognition software for the computer, and that is a huge help. I was not sleeping well until my doctor gave me Trazodone a few weeks ago. I'm also asking my family to take on more tasks at home and bowing out of social engagements when I am too tired. I was already eating healthy - I figure now that'smore important than ever. I guess that's about it; I am still figuring out what works for me.
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Old 07-05-2015, 11:57 PM #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Balancing work and fibromyalgia

Oh yes, absolutely! In addition to the normal stress of working, being a parent, etc. I had an extra helping of political stress at work for several years. Thankfully that situation is greatly improved now and I am under much less stress than I used to be.

You are right, this is a big change for me, but in many ways I am lucky. I got a diagnosis pretty quickly, and the people I have told have all been supportive.
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Old 07-06-2015, 12:32 AM #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Balancing work and fibromyalgia

I worked with FM at a stressful, education administrative job where I was responsible for an entire district's special Ed staff before I was finally diagnosed. For about 6 months, I would almost fall asleep (from the fatigue) in 8:30 a.m. meetings, I had dizzy spells almost every time I stood up from my desk to walk, I experienced major shoulder and back pains and attributed it to needing a good massage...I visited my general practitioner several times and requested xrays, cat scans, and repeated lab work, to no avail. (I actually thought I had shoulder or back cancer! I couldn't imagine being in that much pain and they could not figure out what was wrong.)

Finally, I spoke with an x-co-worker who stopped working years ago because of a disability to see what she had. When I described my symptoms, she immediately diagnosed me with FM and refered me to her neurologist who confirmed it a week after receiving my blood test results and conducting a nerve study. My neurologist also diagnosed me with polymyalgia rhreumatica - which is a lot like FM but more pain in the hip area - and immediately told me she would complete any disability paperwork I needed her to and she gave me a handicapped parking permit that day! This all hit me like a ton of bricks, but I'm glad I had disability insurance and 3-months of leave. I can't imagine having to work with the pain I experience at least 4-7 days every week!

I've heard that a few FM sufferers are able to continue working, but I have no idea how. Just getting up to see my kids off to school some mornings is a painful chore. I can't imagine doing a whole lot more. I'm also about finished with my 2nd graduate degree, and the cognitive brain fog is making me wonder whether I'll be able to finish...

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Old 07-07-2015, 08:55 AM #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Balancing work and fibromyalgia

I'm sorry to hear you had to stop working. I hope you can finish up your degree

I hear you about the brain fog. For me it comes and goes in a matter of hours. When I realize that's what's goung on I try to be patient with myself.
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Old 07-10-2015, 01:48 PM #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Balancing work and fibromyalgia

Hi all,
I am new to the website and I already feel better after reading just a few posts. I am embarrassed to say I have fibro for some reason - as I am a nurse and lots of folks around me think that it means I have head problems. (at least that is how I feel).
My issue is the stress at work. I have a history of terrible neck and shoulder pain that led to the brain fog, feeling terrible in general and bad headaches. I have been on low dose lyrica for a bit now and felt fairly well. Started running/walking again and thought life was getting back on track. THEN - work changed and my stress level has gone through the roof. They have essentially tripled my work load. This whole past week I have gone right back to poor sleep, terrible neck pain and constant questions from folks asking what's wrong as I don't look well. I don't want to use it as an excuse, as I will be viewed as weak. I don't want to take time off, and doubt I would be able to get a doctor's excuse for it anyway. I am just struggling................sorry others feel the same, but it's nice not to be alone. Not sure what to do.
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Old 07-10-2015, 04:25 PM #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Balancing work and fibromyalgia

Welcome wanna work.it saddens me to think u are scared to admit to ppl u have fibro , tell them ,it doesn't mean u have to stop work just say ,yer I look like shit and I feel it I have fibro.u don't need to do or say anything more.
I think you need to admit it to yourself also.you can't beat it with a stick God knows I wish I could , you can't run and hide from it .what you can do is say ok your my shadow and your here to stay,but that don't mean we're friends ��
This is 2015 why are we still hiding in the shadows about what we have.theres no if buts or maybe about it,we got fibro.and the sooner ppl understand that the sooner we will be better understood.hugs xxxx
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Old 07-11-2015, 02:03 PM #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Balancing work and fibromyalgia

Hi wannawork, glad to hear from you!
I am still surprised at how much stress affects my symptoms. I'm used to just forging ahead; now I have to think of a different strategy. When you feel like there are no options stress is so much worse! What forgetmenot said about fibromyalgia being your shadow resonates with me - I think of it like just another problem to manage, like a cranky coworker or a machine that breaks down all the time. This helps keep me from blaming myself for having fibromyalgia and gives me more of a sense of control.

I have only told a few trusted people about my diagnosis. Everyone else knows something is causing pain in my hands, but they don't know exactly what the problem is. In an ideal world I would be able to be open about it. However there are some highly political people in my workplace, so I have to be careful. Our business is contracting, which can really bring out the worst in people because of fear and resentment about lay offs and increasingwork loads.

I hope you can find some relief. I am using intermittent FMLA to cover time away from work; maybe that would work for you too?
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Old 07-12-2015, 10:08 PM #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Balancing work and fibromyalgia

Thank you both Forgetmenot and DK engineer. I do need to work through accepting and not feeling ashamed. I also need to work on how to control my stress response. I am a work in progress! I appreciate the wisdom and caring.
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