Identity and Work (Permanent labor force non-participation)

When I was diagnosed with RA I was working part time in a bank as a customer service representative. The friendships with people I had known for years and with fellow workers were important to me. But with RA fatigue and bad feet it became difficult to do that job as RA progressed. It was a gradual change but continuous and unwelcome.

A TD Bank in New York. Surprised to see familiar company elsewhere.

I started working part time in market research at that point and found a sit down job on the phone was far more possible for me. When the company owner found true love (and busted up two marriages in the process) two of us there decided that we could do the job so we made a deal to buy the company.

It is so much easier to be the boss. Management accommodates your every need. I had a great collection of suns and garage sale art and really enjoyed talking to our clients and solving their problems. There was some friction. My partner at one point said that if she had known the extent to which RA would affect me she never would have gone ahead with the partnership.

The sun wall

However all good things come to an end. We were bought and my contract ended. Suddenly no authority and a basement full of pictures. After 20 years as working with no end in sight the sidewalk suddenly ended.

And as you all know working with RA takes quite a toll. To do a demanding job many of us find that working is pretty well all that you can do. We go home and rest and then try to squeeze the rest of our lives in the weekend. Something has to give and it is often social, family and creative lives that atrophy.

I have said on occasion that I feel as though my life could be represented by a bonsai tree.

Have any of you found good ways to deal with the new horizon of not working?

So far I am consoling myself with a rich new group of virtual friends and news from my old office is like a dispatch from a war zone.

Maybe it’s time to have fun and play with grandchildren…

Anet has had rheumatoid arthritis for 30 years. She spent the last 20 working full time in market research. Now health advocacy and the quality of life with chronic illness are major interests. “It’s great to have time to blog and tweet and go out for lunch”. Follow her on Twitter @anetto

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