Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Accommodations In The Workplace For Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is hard on someone even if they don't work outside of the home.  For those who do work outside of the home, they may feel that managing their symptoms while in the workplace is impossible.  There are quite a few accommodations that can be made though, to help make your work environment easier to be at.  I found a list at WebMD.  I'm going to highlight some important ones in this post, but you can see the full list by clicking the link.

The first thing you should do, is talk to your employer and describe what having fibromyalgia is like for you.  Explain to your boss how you will have good days, and you will have bad days.  See if there's any way that if you're having a bad day, that you can either take some work home with you to reduce your day in the office, or if it's possible for you to work from home that day.  Explain that even being able to take short breaks, alternating between sitting and standing, would be helpful to you.

What to do when Fibro Fog set's in?  Explain what fibro fog is.  Explain that it's a symptom of your fibromyalgia.  Ask that clear, simple directions be written down for you to refer to.  Use schedules and organizers, to help you keep track of what you need to do, and of deadlines.  When using your scheduler or organizer, priortize your assignments so that you make sure you get the most important things completed first.  Try to work in an area that has minimal distractions, so that you can concentrate easier.

Providing written instructions, and reducing your distractions should also help to aleviate depression, stress and/or anxiety that you may be feeling.  Your boss should allow for time off for counseling if needed, and should provide sensitivity training to co-workers.  He or she should also give you a clear outline of deadlines and consequences.  You should be allowed breaks for stress management techniques, if you're feeling especially depressed, stressed or anxious that day.  Also check with your HR department to see what employee assistance and counseling opportunities the company provides to it's employees. 

Talk to your boss, about developing an ergonomic work station.  This can help to relieve pain and fatigue by making it easier for you to be at your workstation.  Having a company that's willing to allow a flexible work schedule and flexible use of leave time can be extremely helpful for days and times that you feel especially tired or weak.  Reducing or eliminating the amount of physical exertion you have to do at work, is also especially helpful for days you're tired and/or weak. 

If you suffer from migraine headaches, talk to your boss about providing air purification devices, and eliminating flourescent lighting and providing task lighting.  Again, a flexible work schedule that allows you to work from home is especially helpful on days you're suffering from a migraine or a sleepless night.  Many of the other suggestions above, also will be helpful on these days. 

I know that even with the best of accommodations and the most understanding boss in the world, there still may be days that you just feel it's impossible to go into work.  I completely understand that.  As a matter of fact, I've been in such a pain flare for months now, that I'm sure if I worked outside the home I'd have been fired by now.  All a person can do, is to try and do their best.  This is one of the reasons why awareness of fibromyalgia is so important.  If people do not really know what it is, then how can we expect them to really understand.  Awareness and advocacy of fibromyalgia and all of the other chronic pain and invisible illnesses will be a passion of mine, until the day I die.  I'll do everything I can to get the word out there.  To try and make people understand that this is a "real" syndrome.  The pain is real, and so are the ramifications.


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