So I have been coping with chronic pain and chronic illness pretty well lately. Or should I say Functioning? Because that is the main point. How much pain you can be in and Function. Fit into the slot society wants us to. Be like everyone else, when clearly we are not. And we have to find ways to cope and manage to do so. It seems cruel and unfair. And, well, it is isn’t it? That is why we have accommodation in the workplace so we can adapt to a work environment. Assuming you can get accommodation. Assuming you Can adapt.
Two main problems with chronic pain and working in broad strokes.
Absenteeism: You can’t get to work because you are in an acute intolerable amount of pain and/or other symptoms are too significant. This can be a massive problem with unmanaged pain. It can lead to a leave of absence or disability.
Presenteeism: We are there, but we are not well. We are not functioning well and our pain and associated symptoms of pain are inhibiting our capacity to be productive and work. We could have memory issues, concentration issues, productivity issues, fatigue issues, brain fog and just overall problems thinking through the pain. This can lead to a great deal of stress, worsening of health and work-related issues due to poor performance.
And there is a level of both of these with working with pain. A high level of absenteeism and, well, work gets cranky. Too much presenteeism with high pain and productivity drops far too low and that is certainly noticed.
And these issues are not easily resolved when it comes to Chronic conditions. Because chronic pain, well, it doesn’t have easy answers. You can’t force yourself to Function and be Productive. You certainly can’t force the pain to stop. And you can’t ‘push through the pain’ because frankly it just doesn’t work. Try a decade of that, and trust me, it doesn’t work.
- Disability: You cannot function at work or manage the pain in order to do so.
- Management: accommodation of some sort with hours, flexibility. Working pain management to be able to handle the pain to do so.
- Compromise: Reducing hours to part-time or casual so you can handle the pain and work.
So I have compromised and I have had management of my chronic pain. And I have had treatment for my depression. And I have reached a level of functionality I didn’t have previously. I would call it High-functioning because I was low-functioning before. Okay, maybe mediocre functioning. Because I still have absenteeism and certainly still have presenteeism, but they are a lesser degree because I adjusted my work to part time. And afjusted my pain management. Sort of got to a middle ground of barely handling it.
But the pain is relentless nevertheless. And exhausting. The fatigue is thick. The battle… endless. And you realize, best case scenario sucks balls. Because I assume this is the best case scenario. Maybe I can achieve better. Daily migraines don’t seem wildly impressive but my intensity is… better on… most days. Fibromyalgia baseline pain is manageable. I am having a problem with allydonia though. But… functioning, right? And that is what matters, at the moment. We do want to achieve our goals. To have a quality of life. To manage productivity. And you realize it is all about sucking a little less than it did yesterday. It isn’t a victory, that we all crave. That elusive cure. But it is certainly like conquered ground. Forward motion. It is better relative to what it Was. Since that was hellish it sort of makes sense you feel like you have made progress. Yet, work is still an endless battle of absenteeism and presenteeism. With less income due to compromises in job role and hours. Feels somewhat hollow in its accomplishment. Like you give up a lot for still a lot of struggle, just less struggle. The suck of this ‘functioning’ is better than non-function but it still sucks all the energy from the rest of your life.