By Ron Kallemeyn
Fibromyalgia affects people differently, but its main symptoms are chronic, widespread, profound pain, extreme fatigue, sleep disturbances, and sensitivity to touch, light, and sound. If you have Fibromyalgia you know that some days are better than others. Sometimes you can’t even get out of bed, let alone be productive at your job. You agonize over missing work, but your boss allows you to use up your sick time and then to make up the hours when your sick time is gone. However, there will come a time when these accommodations no longer are enough to allow you to do your job. When that happens, it may be time for a career change.
Most jobs require regular attendance and productive workers. Sure you can ask for accommodations but they can only go so far. More information about Fibromyalgia accommodations can be found at the Department of Labor’s job accommodation network website (askjan.org). Flexible hours/days and extra long breaks are a few of the accommodations that will allow you to maintain your regular job.
Of course, some jobs can be accommodated better than others. Telemarketing and telephone customer service are much easier to accommodate than a factory worker or police officer. They are much more likely to allow for telecommuting as well. This is where you stay home and do your job through your computer and/or phone. Another option would be to get retrained into a traditional work-at-home job or business. Jobs like medical billing and coding, transcribing medical or legal documents, or a language translator. You may need education or training for these jobs, but there is a continuing need for these services.
Say you have spent a ton of money and time on your education and training for your profession. Perhaps you could take your education and years of experience and become a consultant in your field. Your company hired you full-time because your skills matched their need. There are smaller companies that only need your expertise on a limited or part-time basis. They are all looking to hire a consultant to meet their needs.
Of course, this requires you to start your own business which has some drawbacks. On the other hand, it has some huge benefits for people like you. You get to set your own hours and you can take or refuse whatever work you want. A great place to get started is on websites like Elance .com and Guru .com. Both of these websites have jobs posted that people need to have done. You bid on the posted jobs and the person needing the service hires the bidder that they feel best meets her needs. If your bid is accepted you make a contract and then perform the services. It is a great way to build clientele and experience for your consulting business.
Keeping with the entrepreneurial spirit, you could also open your own electronic store front. Billions of dollars of goods and services are being sold on the internet each day. There is no reason why you couldn’t cut out a piece of that for yourself. Whether it’s on an auction site or on your own website you can sell anything there is a market for. There is plenty of material online to help you learn about online marketing. You can even set it up so that you don’t ever have to touch the product you sell.
Having Fibromyalgia is not a death sentence to your career. Through the use of accommodations you may be able to stay at your job. If you can’t, then striking out on your own might be the way you can stay in the same career. You set your hours and your work load which works out well when your Fibromyalgia is acting up. Even if that isn’t what you want to do, you may be able to start some other kind of business. Trust me. You will still use your education and experience in this new endeavor. No matter what you decide, in order to stay working and productive you must find something that has flexible hours and schedules so that you can perform the service during your productive periods.
Jul 13 2010, 03:50 PM