Medical Self Advocacy, Self Care, and Your Career

Female doctor writing prescription to patient

I’ve previously discussed on this blog the unique work ethic and personal characteristics that are born from the trial by fire that is chronic illness and pain. But let’s be real. Managing a career while having a chronic illness is hard. It requires a lot of extra time, energy, and forethought to say the least. Having a robust self care routine is crucial to daily success and is definitely not optional. Today’s blog post will be about the self advocacy and self care required for business and career success while working with a chronic condition.

First of all, you should not be alone in this effort of self care. You will need a lot of help and support from your medical care team. As an example, chronic pain can have a significant impact on your daily work experience and you may need daily pain management to be at your best at work. However, getting proper treatment for pain can be difficult to say the least. This is where being a strong self advocate can make a huge difference in not just your health and quality of life, but in your ability to function and carry out your job as well.

So what does a good self advocate do? Your entire care team, including your general practitioner and relevant specialists, should all be aware of and fully bought into your career goals. I know, I know… shouldn’t you be getting proper treatment regardless of your career goals? Yes, you should be. However, the fact remains that general practitioners and pain specialists alike are becoming more and more hesitant to prescribe even obviously medically indicated pain management. It can be immensely helpful to communicate what you are looking to get out of your medication. Are you just needing to make it through a work day? How many productive work hours do you get out of each dose? Does your dose cover the whole work day or just part of it? How much does your medication help you function and how does that translate into increased career and life success for you? Providing this information to your care team will help them stay motivated to better serve your career related medical needs. My care team knows that I have my own business, that I’m fund raising, and that I have many big goals that I need to feel my best to achieve. My doctor having this knowledge helps her to better help me.

Outside of medication management, your self care routine should include physical activity and good sleep hygiene to further support your health related goals. Maintaining healthy energy levels is crucial to working while chronically ill, so the importance of sleep and exercise cannot be overstated. Exercise can of course be difficult for those with pain or muscle weaknesses or imbalances, so get started with a physical therapist and slowly ramp up your activity level. Physical therapy can also be a great opportunity to address career specific postural concerns. Do you have trouble sitting or standing at your job for long periods of time? Does your job require repetitive movements or uncomfortable work stations? Bring this up and address it with your physical therapist. It’s important to not stop with physical therapy, however. Get a gym membership and continue your exercise outside of physical therapy to keep seeing benefits.

Make self care and medical self advocacy one of your career goals and you will see results. Make sure your medical team cares about enabling your dreams and if they don’t… get a new team that does.

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