RA & The Workplace

It’s three o’clock in the morning, and I just got home from a social outing with my new coworkers. The evening was fun…not only am I getting to know the people that I work with a little bit better, but I am also celebrating the fact that my cold of ten days is finally tapering down. (Let’s hear it for immunosuppresants!)

I marveled in my ability to actually dance, even though my knees are once again being slightly affected by my rheumatoid arthritis. The last time I went dancing was a few months ago. To be honest, I felt a little awkward dancing with my crutches that evening a while back…but I did have fun that night, and in the end that is what matters most. While I was not using my crutches this evening, I did have the sense that they *might* once again be coming out of their corner in the vestibule sometime soon.

During the evening I spoke with another professor in my department, and opened up a little bit about the fact that I live with rheumatoid arthritis. I’ve had a relatively good past couple of weeks (despite my cold), but over the past couple of days I’ve noticed that pervasive pain returning to all of the joints in my body. I guess my need to bring up this topic was somewhat preemptive….I’d rather explain the presence of a cane or crutches now, ahead of time, instead of when I am “in the weeds” (as chefs would say).

Even though I had expected the receive a supportive response, I was still surprised with how overwhelmingly supportive the response was. To sum it up in a few words, I was told that if I ever did have a day where I was not able to make it to campus, one of the other professors in the department would happily fill in for me.

And while deep down inside I hope to not reach such a point, I do find a lot of comfort in knowing that if I do have a really bad day, my colleagues are willing to step up and help me.

Speaking about disability in the workplace is always a sensitive topic, and I don’t think that there is a simple answer for how it should or should not be done…but I am learning, firsthand, that in my situation being open about it is only helping me to feel more confident about this recent commitment that I have made.

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

7 Comments
7 comments
  1. Laurie says:

    So glad you arw getting out and about! I went to dinner with friends Thursday nite,,,we weren’t out as late as you, but it was still fun.
    My RA is still behaving so I am enjoying it while it lasts.
    I have made a giant leap of fate…applied for a new job back at my old hospital. Made it through the first 2 rounds of interviews, so Tuesday a.m. I have the important one with the director of nurses.
    The worst part of changing jobs for me will be that my rheumey is not on their insurance, So I will have to up my flex medical spending to cover her office visits.
    anyway have a good weekend and I;m glad you are feeling better!

  2. Abi says:

    Glad you are enjoying your time out. I have had RA for the past 8 years.
    You are right about being open about your disability. My workplace have been very very supportive from the start. I have now been there 3 years. From the start they made sure I am able to work from home and provided a laptop. I now work 2 days a week at home and on days I am unable to get to the office, my boss is very understanding and lets me work at home. This has made such a difference to my working life.
    Stay better. Have a good weekend!

  3. Robin says:

    I’m so happy that you had a good experience with sharing about your RA! I wish more people would experience that kind of support. I also hope that you don’t have to have another professor fill in for you, but it is good to have that back-up!

  4. Kim Lewis says:

    You’re right some days are easy, some aren’t. I just keep going to stay lubricated like the Tin Man!
    ;)

  5. RA Guy's Mom says:

    So glad to be reading that you are out doing a bit of socializing…I think it’s important to be able to incorporate some of that into your life. Now with your new job it’s going to be bringing new work colleagues into your life and, that too, I believe is good. It’s great to read what you wrote about sharing about your RA with your co-worker and the response you received!–it’s so helpful to have that added support system in place. What can I say?–I’m happy for you, son!!

  6. Lana says:

    Good to hear. It does make sense to be open about our limitations with RA. Sometimes, it is a bit harder when RA isn’t so obvious. I have a tendency to push myself more than I should. On some level, I think it is denial and the other side of the spectrum is that I am not ready to give up my independence even though it does take a toll sometimes.

    Anyways, RA Guy, I am so happy for you that you are working and that you are getting out. Self-esteem helps us pull through.

  7. Terry says:

    Glad to hear your getting out and fitting in well with your coworkers.

    I have found most everyone, supervisors and coworkers to be very supportive of my RA. However, never underestimate their ignorance or misconceptions they have about RA either. I work with a good crew on my printing press and have educated them over the past 5 years. They are a good group to work with.

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