Fibromyalgia and Work

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by pearls, Dec 31, 2002.

  1. pearls

    pearls New Member

    For the past 2½ years, I've been struggling with my fibromyalgia while I contine to work. I am a California fourth grade teacher. Even for healthy teachers the job is too much. In my school, our workload has gotten heavier and heavier for the past five years. This year our district decreed that we have to be on the job an additional 45 minutes per day and our supevision duties have increased to at least twice as much as last year - this in spite the fact it is against our contract (the grievance mills grind slowly). The paperwork load continues to grow. There has been no respite in other aspects of the job. There are a number of teachers suffering physically and I've even noticed some of my doctors commenting about the number of teachers having problems. Under these circumstances, I've found it extremely difficult to work and care for myself properly.

    My question: can a person with fibromyalgia in a situation like mine push herself so much that the fibromyalgia becomes too far advanced to "recover?" In other words, can my job make it so recovery to an acceptable level becomes too difficult?
  2. Kathryn

    Kathryn New Member

    I can't give you a scientific answer, but I am pretty sure that is what I did to myself. I used to be a city bus driver until last August, when the combination of fog & pain became more than I could handle. I had been forcing myself to continue working since about 1990. I am now at he point where a good day now is about the same as a bad day 10 years ago. I am hopeful that since I am no longer working, I will start to have a few more days of little discomfort, but who can say? I do believe, and literature supports this, that we tend to be over achievers. Hope you find yourself in remission soon.
  3. annl

    annl New Member

    I can most certainly relate to your situation. I am a New York City first grade teacher and the workload has become overwhelming in the last few years. Our schoolday has also been extended this year. Basicly my life now revolves around work. I have been bringing home alot more work than in prevous years and it takes me alot longer to get it completed - can't concentrate, I'm forgetful, always tired and in pain. I come home and do my school work and try to sleep. My weekends are spent doing all the cleaning that doesn't get done during the week and more school work - checking work and doing lesson plans. Most of the teachers in my school are young - just out of college in the past few years and they are well, so therefore they are able to handle all the stress. Also, our pricipal keeps everyone on pins and needles. She never has anything nice to say and she is very unsympathetic. I don't know how much longer I can handle this. As the year progresses, I just become worse and worse. The only thing that keeps me going is looking forward to the breaks. A few years ago I was able to work the after school program and the summer program. Now I can't seem to make it through the regular school year.

    I don't know what the answer is but I do know that my job is making my condition much worse. I was starting to feel a little better over the summer when I was able to rest when I needed to and was relieved of all stress. I need to work so quiting my job will never be an option.
  4. pearls

    pearls New Member

    I feel trapped. The "get well" system at work - to which I contribute yearly - seems to be a metaphor for the difficulties we have with needing to work financially, but not being able to quit. You can be in the hospital for an appendectomy or to have a baby and the staff will send a beautiful plant and a card. If you have signed up for disability insurance, you can tap into it if you have an appendectomy or have a baby. But if you have fibromyalgia and all that chronic pain means if you are not sick enough to go to the hospital or to stay home all the time, and I can attest that you won't even get a get-well card, or a plant, or your disability insurance. Everyone there knows I am sick. Some pray for me. I was one of the "lucky" ones who actually looked sick for a time, so they could see it. But still, I'm treated like I'm well and the lady with the new baby is sick!
  5. teach6

    teach6 New Member

    My system has a great disability plan, which has allowed me to be able to go on leave while awaiting approval of SSDI and disability retirement.

    I have to agree with you about the teaching load becoming unbelievable in the past few years. I don't think it's all because I was living with undx'd CFS and FM either. I hear about it all the time and how unhappy the teachers at my old school are this year.

    Of course, some of it probably has to do with an administrator who spends every other weekend out of state with her significant other. You can't run a school efficiently when you are never there!

    My older son has just started with the NYC public school system. This year he is teaching Pre-K, which is what he wanted. Last year he taught first grade in Orlando and it was really messed up there!

    I posted about disabilities in the workplace earlier today. You may want to check that out. It is long, but has some really good information.

    Good luck to you all.


  6. Annette2

    Annette2 New Member

    Hi Ann. I read that you're a teacher in NYC. Where do you work? I'm originally from the Bronx! About 30 years ago I worked for School District #10 in the Bronx. I get so homesick sometimes.......

  7. coyote

    coyote New Member

    Hi, I am an elementary art teacher working in six schools. I teach K-5 and have to carry all the art supplies with me except for one school that has an art room. This has become exhausting. Get this: one school has an elevator and the art room is on the second floor. The principal wouldn't allow me to have a key to the elevator, so I got a letter from my Dr saying I have a disability. He still refused, and YELLED at me in the hall "I said no, and don't ask me again". I went to another teacher (friend of his) who talked to him and I finally got a key! There is so much misunderstanding and ignorance about the disease out there.
    All the classroom teachers complain about how much the workload has increased, especially with the new testing of kids at grades 4, 8, and 10 (to graduate). i teach about 38,39 classes in a 7 day rotating schedule. I have about 850 students in that 7 day rotation. I would like to quit or go out on disability, which I've purchased, but meds are so expensive, and I am worried about the future, being single.
    I have a great deal of diffuculty caring for myself properly, also, and the housework definitely gets left to the weekends. This makes the weekends tiring also.
    I don't know about working beyond a recovery point. I hope not.
    It's hard to figure out when to say "Enough".
  8. annl

    annl New Member

    Hi Annette,
    I have been working in Brooklyn for the past 13 years - first as a paraprofessional and this will be my 9th year as a teacher. I was in K for 5 years and now I'm in 1st grade. I really love working with the children and would hate to give it up but my work is suffering due to this DD.
    So, where do you live and work now?
  9. LisaMay

    LisaMay New Member

    I really think we can push ourselves too far before we realize what we've done. It is a vicious circle. I've just left a greenhouse position due to the enormous physical activities performed daily. I've taken a job teaching mentally retarded adults basic skills in a non-profit facility. I hope I don't burn myself out and end up feeling worse. That would be a disaster.

    My acceptable level of recovery changes as I get new meds, exercise, or whatever change I make. Some days are really a struggle, but I keep on going. You just have to find what works for you.


    P.S. I've always heard that the school systems overload their teachers. No wonder why there is a shortage of caring individuals who want to dedicate their lives to teaching our children to become our future leaders. Bravo to you for doing a great job!
  10. pearls

    pearls New Member

    Say, "Hello," for me to your father! I was a choir teacher for some years (with a sideline as a professional church/synagogue musician) until my voice problems and a few other things prompted me to get a self-contained classroom credential. I enjoyed my career as a choir director.

    Thanks everyone else for your replies. Working is a constant concern of mine.

    Phooey! I wanted to choose the guitar icon since it was the closest thing to being a choir teacher. Guess I'd better choose the circle to the right of the icon next time!
    [This Message was Edited on 01/01/2003]
  11. fifty1ford

    fifty1ford New Member

    Greetings Pearls,

    I am not a teacher but a Systems Engineer for a large Minneapolis based corporation and struggle to get myself to work every day. Some days the struggle seems insurmountable, but with the help of my Doc, Acupuncture Treatments, Tai Chi and Myofacial Release Treatments (just had one, but it was great and expensive), I've been able to strengthen my immune system and continue working.

    I've only missed one day of work in the past six months due to a sinus infections which I was able to fend off without resorting to antibiotics for the first time in years. I typically get two or three sinus infections a year, which is down to about one with the daily use of a Nehti pot.

    The FMS and CFIDS causes a daily struggle just to get out of bed with all of the fatigue and aches! Many of us do not have a choice but to continue working to support our families and such. The only advice that I can offer would be to fill your toolbag with as many varying treatments as you can to suppliment traditional medicine.

    Hang in there and Peace,
  12. kuntryhart

    kuntryhart New Member

    I am not a teacher, just a lowly secretary in a Real Estate office. I used to be a realtor until it got to be too much for me. After a day showing property I would get where I couldn't pick my feet up to get in the car or in the front door at home. I didn't think recovery was an option with Fibro anyway....So, I gave it up and took over the secretary position when it became available. Most days, especially latley, I don't really feel like going to work, but I just don't have a choice. The bills keep rolling in each month, and I have to work to pay them. I am hoping that this flare up will pass after a while, and I'll feel like doing a little more.I have no retirement, disability insurance, or even workman's comp at this job. If it weren't for my husband's work offering medical insurance, I wouldn't have that either. I know this won't make it easier for you to push yourself out the door each morning, but know that you are not alone. There's a bunch of us out here!! :) kuntryhart
  13. pearls

    pearls New Member

    My gosh, when I read about that incident you had with the principal and the elevator my blood boiled! Why the heck can't he let anyone who has a load to carry, let alone those of us with disability, use the darn elevator?! As to not letting you use it when you got the doctor's note, he's probably one of those ignorant people we have to educate whos think the only handicapped people are obviously blind people and those who are in wheelchairs! I told my husband about that one and he's a teacher, too. That kind of idiocy sound like so many administrators I've worked with (though there were good ones, too), and it is right out of the cartoon, "Dilbert!"