What you once took for granted (walking, working, taking care of family & yourself) can suddenly become difficult when faced with any chronic disease & chronic pain. What you once did effortlessly can start to look like a mountain to climb when managing illness-so what do you do?
Well, first you examine your status honestly. You assess your abilities. Here’s some of those questions you may be asking yourself-and some suggestions to help you find a NEW GAME to make them happen! After all, life isn’t going to stand still-the kids still need to eat, the house still needs cleaning & stocking, and very likely-this means you MUST adapt.
Can you work, but not reliably? You may not be able to punch a clock any longer-but you’ve got some energy and love for keeping some part of your career in your life? You HAVE OPTIONS but you must make them happen! They aren’t going to come to you-you must prepare!
You may want to apply for social security disability. You are entitled to the money you put into the system if you can no longer work or earn what you used to because of chronic illness. You can apply even if you still work as long as you do not make over $1020 monthly. It’s time-consuming but do-able. You can apply online at http://www.ssa.gov. You don’t need a lawyer to apply-and most lawyers actually want to wait until you get your first denial to take your case-so applying is the first step. Remember-this isn’t an easy or immediate solution. This is thinking ahead for your future-it may take up to 3 years to get approved (no guarantees either) but stay vigilant. It’s usually a matter of WHEN, not IF that you will be awarded SSDI. So hang in there-and get started!
Now that your thinking long term-you can think short term. What about NOW, what about the sick days, the doctor appointments, the unreliability factor in your work or job performance & attendance. Well-I suggest take it head on. Ask for part time and keep records of your physical health and lack of work ability. This will be important to your SSDI case if you have applied.
Asking for less hours is a necessary tool to keep your stress levels down and your disease symptoms minimized. It’s a MUST. You may end up surprised that working less hours brings you better health management. If you can take your work home, ASK! You never know unless you bring it to your boss’s attention-if you are working in an occupation that you can be productive from home-making your own hours can take away that issue of not being able to do a 9 to 5! It’s always worth a try! If possible, you may want to consider working as an independent contractor-this way you can continue your work at your own pace-and from home, where it can be much easier to manage your health, it keeps you in the career you love, and continues to bring in an income! If there was ever a time or reason to give being independent a shot, THIS IS IT! If the company you work for or your occupation doesn’t offer a “work from home” alternative-maybe spend this time looking for one.
For immediate financial needs if you reduce your hours or find yourself out of work due to health issues is to apply for state help. Food stamps are usually available on an emergency basis, you can apply online in most states and many cities have community services that might be able to help pay rent and utilities. Churches and synogogues can be very helpful assets as well. You may be able to find roomates to share expenses, caregiving opportunities or bartering options!
Once you’ve got your long term and short term financials down-it’s time to manage your home, your family and your disease. Once again, you’ve got to change your game!
MANAGING YOUR HEALTH!
Get your doctors and specialists in order. Make a folder for all your medical records (labs, doctors notes, etc) and keep it updated. This is two-fold. One-it will be necessary for your disability case later on, and Two-you can better coordinate your healthcare this way. Bring your newest labs, tests, dx’s & list of meds to all your appointments. This shows your docs you mean business and your taking your care seriously.
Ask questions! If you need better pain control, it’s time to get that referral to a pain management specialist. They can offer ways to manage pain that go beyond simply taking medications. There are procedures, cortisone shots, nerve blocks, and surgeries that can make your quality of life BETTER! Now’s the time to take care of YOU!
Get all your specialist appointments caught up, see your general practitioner and get all the referrals you need to your specialists! Now is the time. Again, this will help you manage your chronic disease & give you the paperwork and info you need for your disability case. Remember ASK QUESTIONS at your appointments! If you are undertreated, or suffering, SAY SO, and ask. It might be time to change your medications! If your not feeling that your doctor is “on your team”-FIRE HIM/HER! Docs are like night & day. A good fit is very important. It can mean the difference in your attitude, your pain level, the very basis of how you feel about your disease can change with better quality control of your healthcare. Make those good choices NOW!
And lastly- HOW TO BRING IT HOME!
Time to manage your household. The players have changed so your game must change too! You must try to take control of the house by managing your time and abilities! DELEGATE CHORES! It’s all about the organization of the household and family working as a TEAM!
Cook meals in advance if you can and freeze them for another day. Take your time preparing meals, doing the prepwork in stages. (Cut up the veggies, then go sit down. Go back & do some more, etc) Get family to help out with the everyday homecare things like washing clothes, putting them away, walking the dog, doing the dishes, straightening the house! You can no longer do it all. You can even arrange a meeting with family and your doctor to discuss what he/her thinks of your abilities-having a knowledgeable professional to relate your needs to your family can go a LONG WAY! This could be your doctor, your parents, anyone other than you!
It’s all about QUALITY OF LIFE and FINDING that QUALITY! You may still be able to do the things you love, keep the career you’ve worked so hard for and wanted but in a different way! You won’t know until you try, and you really have no choice if your taking care of a family! Make it easier on YOURSELF! You deserve it!