For those who are diagnosed with lupus, you may be panic and wondered how it can affect your basic activities in life. In fact, your current health condition is an important factor that determined what you can or want to do. If you are in the middle of a flare, you may not want to expend a lot of energy until your doctor has given you the green light to resume your normal routine activity.
However, even if you are not experiencing any flare, you may want to curtail any vigorous activities and avoid putting any strain on your body. So what are some of the routine activities that will be affected due to lupus? How you can make changes to be as active as you will used to be?
Working With Lupus
Of all activities, working is the most concern activity especially if you are the breadwinner of the family. You may be concerned that your lupus might interfere with your ability to work which may threaten your financial security. Even though you have lupus, you will probably want to do as much as possible of what you used to be.
Other than the monetary benefits, the feeling of independence, the sense of self-fulfillment and self-worth are equally important as well. In fact, many lupus sufferers question themselves whether they should continue to work as there are times that they feel too tired to shoulder their usual work load. So what are some of the common job-related concerns and what you can do about it?
Common Job-related Concerns
First and foremost is to ask yourself if you feel comfortable doing the job, in terms of emotionally or physically. It is fine to continue working if you are not wearing yourself down or comprising your health.
Does your employer still want you to work there? Or will a new employer accept your current physical condition? Next, you may be worried if your colleagues will accept you as like before or they will try to avoid you. Will your condition and its treatment affect your performance, attendance or punctuality at work? If it does, will this cause any difficulties in your work?
Lastly is the amount of stress involved which relate to the choice of employment. Due to the negative impact of stress on your physical condition, this is certainly something you will want to minimize. If you find that working is creating a stress that is counter-productive, you may consider a job change, reducing working hours or at least a change of responsibilities within your job scope.
You may be concerned that symptoms or side effects will prevent you from adequately performing on the job. Lupus may cause you to experience fatigue and other discomforts and this may affect your productivity. You may feel tired easily and feel that you just do not have the necessary stamina to complete your job satisfactorily.
Besides, your rate of working may slowed down and you may be absent or late more than usual. If your employer is aware of any of these problems, you may be afraid that your value to your company will be questioned and your job may be in jeopardy.
So what should you do? It is advisable to pace yourself and take rest breaks whenever necessary and possible to get re-energized. Try to build your stamina slowly and do not expect too much at once by reducing the time involved in non-essential activities.
If you can adjust your work hours, you will find that it will be less stressful to avoid the traffic and you can reach your work place on late. Will your employer make any special provisions for you because of your lupus condition? Most of the times, if your employer is satisfied with your job performance, there should not be any problem.
You may be uncomfortable about approaching your employer to find out if these changes can be made. It may even bother you to seek “special treatment”. However, do take note that what you may need is just small or minor necessary modifications as compare to the cost of hiring another new employee to replace you.
But what if your employer is not willing to consider such small modifications? Well, if this happens, just do the best you can. If your employer decided to ask you to leave the company, then this may be a chance for you to look out for other jobs which suits you better.
Should you discuss your lupus condition with your employer?
How appropriate is it to discuss your medical condition with your employer? How much should you share? Just remember you are not looking for sympathy but rather, a common understanding that allows you to continuing working with lesser work load.
As each situation or case is totally different, you will have to decide about how much and what to say that are most comfortable for you. Some employers will be very supportive and understanding, while others will be somehow apprehensive about retraining or hiring a person who has any kind of physical problem.
Remember that your employer’s responsibility is to keep productivity at its highest possible level. Therefore, it may be helpful to reassure your employer that you will work to keep your condition from interfering your own productivity.
What if your employer refuses to retrain or hire you?
If you are applying for a job, it is important to know which questions your interviewer is legally allowed to ask, and which questions must not be asked. For example, a potential employer can ask if you have any health or medical problem that would interfere with your ability to do the work involved in the position for which you are applying.
Keep in mind, however, that this question cannot be asked in more general terms. Besides, by law, an interviewer is not permitted to list a series of medical problems and ask if you have any of them. But it is not recommended that you lie about your condition during an interview.
However, you can be circumspect about how much information you provide and respond with only the bare minimum necessary. Ask a close friend or family member to bombard you with difficult questions. Practice your answers so that you can confidently and smoothly respond to these kinds of questions during your interview.
Once you have begun work, your employer can ask medical questions only if they are asked with the intent to find reasons why you are not able to handle the responsibilities of your position. Be aware that your employer is required by law to accommodate your reasonable and special needs.
If you have gone through a period of time when you could not work because of lupus, your return to work will be a very important step, not only for you but for your family members as well. All of you will hope that life is about to return to a more normal state.
So when should you return to work? Some people are ready to return as soon as they feel better. What you choose to do should depend on you, your doctor, your employer and the nature of your work. If you are apprehensive about your return, have confidence in yourself. The more positive your attitude and the better you present yourself, the more quickly you will adjust to the work force.
What if you have been out of work for a while and are ready to re-enter the job market?
You might worry about whether you should go back to your old job, or whether anyone else could even consider hiring you. The decision to hire you or not to hire you is based on a number of factors. Among them are your prior sickness or absentee record, your present state of health and the possibility of prolonged absences in the future.
The employer will certainly want to consider whether you and your medical condition will create any problems on the job. Concerns about morale, sick benefits and liability usually top the list. The most upsetting cases involve employers who are unwilling to hire you simply because they know about your condition. At this point, you are faced with 2 choices. You can either give up and look for something else or try to educate the employer.
This can be done through discussions or reading materials, or you can put your employer in contact with a doctor or a nurse. If necessary, your doctor can probably reassure your prospective employer that you are fit for the job and should be able to handle it in more or less the same way as someone with lupus.
All this groundwork is frequently worth the effort. If you get the job, your relationship will already be a good one. Greater understanding will exist. In addition, it is nice to know that your employer has at least some insight into your condition.
What if you have to change jobs?
Due to new limitations, your old job may no longer be right for you. If this is the case, you should certainly consider changing to another job, even if it means getting additional training. Certainly, the prospect of having to look for work is more daunting to some than it is others. But if you are unable to continue working at your present job, do not feel despair.
There are many ways in which you can get the training you need to move into a different type of position. Your first step might be to check with any of the government services that offer vocational counseling. Counselors in these offices will work with you to determine exactly what your aptitude is for different jobs.
You will then be able to get the training and support you need to obtain employment in the desired field. If you need help finding jobs that are appropriate for you, your state employment services may be a good place to start. Some people feel that for financial reasons, you should postpone looking for new employment until your old employment has been terminated. This planning of course has its pros and cons.
If you receive unemployment benefits for losing your job, this could ease your financial burden. But if subsequent employers are reluctant to hire you because of your grounds for dismissal, this tactic may explode in your face. In fact, only you with your unique knowledge of your own situation can decide which course of action is best.
As you know, there are many benefits to working, including satisfaction, pride and money. But what if you cannot work? Or what if you are between jobs? But a paying job is not only the type of satisfying work that is available.
Many meaningful, productive activities can be pursued on a voluntary basis. Check with non-profit charities, religious organizations, political groups, hospitals, schools, senior citizen centers and the like.
These types of organizations can always use some extra help that you have never been able to participate in before, due to work commitments. And this work will help you feel good about yourself in the bargain. What if you just do not want to work? If this is your preference, and you are able to manage without a job, that is great. But do not use your condition as an excuse for not working.
Instead, try to find out what is really bothering you and explore alternatives to eliminate the problem.
Going Back To School
Teenagers and young adults with lupus may have problems in school that are similar to those experienced by people who work. There may be times when your condition just does not allow you to feel comfortable enough to attend classes. Or you may be concerned because pain or other physical restrictions prevent you from participating in your usual activities.
When necessary, you should inform your teachers about your condition so that they can help whenever possible. For example, a child with lupus may be concerned about the comments of other students while in school. Having teachers who are aware of lupus may help to minimize this potential problem.
Tips To Handle Daily Routine Activities
Among the things you do each day are numerous routine tasks which may become limited due to your lupus condition. If this is the case, you may probably feel frustrated or blame yourself for not able to accomplish these activities just like before.
So what should you do? Continued to feel depressed or upset and yet does not want to ask for help due to your own dignity? In fact, there are ways that you can explore so as to reorganize your lifestyle, your house and your daily routine activities within a short period of time.
Plan, Organize And Simplify Your Tasks
Your goal is to make daily living as easy as possible since one of the most important factor in your treatment program for lupus is energy conservation. In fact, conserving energy is essential since you can avoid unnecessary or excessive fatigue.
In most cases, problems with daily living can be conquered without professional help. It can be very satisfying for you to develop your own solutions to these problems. You can begin by evaluating everything you do on a day-to-day basis and see how you can make every single task you do easier.
For example, you may want to recognize your home and habits in such a way that make movement easier and puts things within easy reach. You can replace small drawer handles with bigger ones. You can wear clothing that is easier to get on and off especially if you often have to spend a lot of time fiddling with buttons or zippers.
Try to reduce the amount of energy you expend in performing any activities by modifying the method you use. You should rest intermittently, frequently and whenever needed. So that you will then be able to do more of what you want or need to do.
Remember any activities that cause you pain should be modified as much as possible and you should not do any task that causes severe pain. If you have already reduced a task to the bare minimum and absolutely cannot do anything more about it, put a limit on how much pain you are going to let yourself endure. An ache that lasts 5 to 10 minutes may be bearable if it is not severe, but severe pain may be a problem.
Besides eliminating unnecessary activities and making the remaining tasks easier to accomplish, you will want to learn how to use planning and pacing to conserve energy. It is recommended to chart your activities, including your required tasks, optional social and leisure activities. This may help you better organize your time.
The more advanced the planning the better especially when big tasks are involved as this will give you time to figure out exactly how you are going to perform a given task, what equipment you will need and how the task might be broken up to allow for rest periods.
Some effective tips to conserve energy include:
- Pace yourself appropriately
- Include sufficient amount of rest
- Work, move and play with moderation
- Include relaxation regularly in your routine
- Reduce the chances of stiffening up, move or stretch as needed
- Prioritize your activities that are necessary and eliminate the unnecessary ones from your routine
- Reduce the amount of time you remain standing
- Build in short rest periods frequently, and longer rest periods occasionally
- Distinguished between activities that are light on energy and those that can drain off your energy. Balance what you do and when you do it.
- Organize your day to do the more energy-involved activities when you have more energy.
- Think about reorganizing certain critical areas of your home to reduce the amount of stretching, reaching and bending that would normally be required.
- Improve your ability to delegate task to others when necessary. This can include delegating to children as well.