Since my diagnosis last August, I’ve largely hidden fibromyalgia from most people in my life — especially at work. I don’t want to be perceived as weak, unreliable and all the other things I imagine people will think if they were to find out. Being reliable and responsible is extremely important to me; I feel like it sort of defines me as a person, and fibromyalgia has been chipping away at my ability to be those things. It’s been difficult to accept the changes that come with constant fatigue and pain.
So yesterday I did something that was sort of a big deal for me. I talked to my boss about potentially working fewer hours a week. Every day at work, the last hour to two hours is a struggle for me to get through. My brain is fried — fibro fog is in full effect — and I am extremely tired. Sometimes I leave because I fear I won’t be able to drive myself home safely if I wait any longer. That means my evenings are filled with pain and fatigue, and doing any kind of household chores or other tasks is difficult. Also, my health care team at Mayo Clinic last year told me it’s important for fibro patients to rest before you feel you need it. So what am I doing to my body every day when I push through pain and fatigue to stay through every minute of my eight-hour day? I can never stay on top of it; I’m always pushing myself past my limit. No wonder I feel terrible all the time.
As much as I don’t want to admit it or be the person who backs away from “staying strong” as people like to tell me to do, I can’t help but wonder what a reduction in my hours could mean for my health — now and down the road. Asking for reduced hours means lots of difficult things — less money in my paycheck, a bit of a hit to my ego in admitting I can’t handle a full day … but I see the potential benefits to my health and well-being and, frankly, I’m excited about the possibility.
It’s still an exploration at this point; nothing is in writing yet. But I have to say, I’m a little bit proud of myself for putting my health and my needs first.