I didn’t expect this to happen to me. I have been working at my current job for 7 months, and now I find myself home bound. Per my doctor’s orders, I am not upset about not going back to work right away since I was in the hospital for almost 2 weeks and I need rest and recovery right now.
I didn’t want my co-workers to know that I have lupus (even though I had a bunch of doctor’s appointments), because I wanted to show that I was capable of doing the work. I do a damn good job in my position, but I have to know my limitations because I do have them with my medical condition.
Since I’ve only been working for 7 months, my leave is unpaid (only when you work wherever you do for at least a year do you get paid leave). Hopefully I will come back by early/mid June.
If you have a chronic illness, there is a likelihood that you have contemplated getting medical leave (or actually did get it) or quit altogether (I hope I never get to that point). I’m so lucky and blessed to have a great job with caring and understanding co-workers (perks of working in non-profit), since a lot of people work in toxic environments.
Rather than resent not being to go back to work right away, I am trying to embrace it and rest so that I can come back stronger. Here are some things to do while on you’re on break, whether it’s self-care or tasks you need to complete:
1. Go to doctor’s appointments as needed.
After a horrible flare, expect to have A LOT OF follow up appointments with doctors. I have one coming up with my rheumatologist next week, I just had my appointment with the PCP on Monday, and I am about to continue with my cytoxan (infusion for lupus patients) this week. It’s rough, especially when you’re not able to drive at the moment. But don’t miss an appointment at all after having a flare, especially because it’s so difficult to schedule an appointment.
2. Read positive and inspiring books.
I want to read other books more, but right now I am reading the Bible for wisdom and comfort. You will need the extra strength and comfort you can while going through a horrible flare or sickness at the moment to carry you mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
3. Work things out with other appointments.
Optometry and/or dentist appointment? Do them right now while you’re on the break. Need to deal with the DMV? Now’s the best time.
4. Tighten your budget.
Especially if you’re on unpaid leave. For me, this is something I’m going to have to do more of since I cannot drive at the moment, and I will have to take Uber, Lyft and/or the bus to go to work and a lot of my money will be going to transportation (thankfully Cecilio will pick me up). Just be careful and don’t spend willy-nilly like you used to while you’re on the break.
5. But at the same time treat yourself.
I know it contrasts tip #4, but you have got to treat yourself to something nice for your sanity. I bought a few things from Credo Beauty last night because I wanted to get some makeup and body care that would make me happy after the hell I’ve been through (I just tried to keep myself from overspending though, I just bought a body wash, highlighter and blush while getting 3 samples). My sister and I were talking about junk food (she has lupus too, but more severe) and she said she still eats chips (and I still love my Hot Cheetos!) because her life is hard from all the medical issues she has to go through and she just wants something that will keep her happy and pleasured in life!
I plan to start journaling now, whether it’s to answer questions from the “Study it!” box from my Bible, pray, keep track of my appointments and medications, etc. There’s no right or wrong way to journal. You can even record the little accomplishments you did throughout the day at the end of the night, knowing no matter how little you did or how small the task you accomplished, you did it!
Rest up and heal so that you can come back work stronger than ever. After having sore muscles from not working out in a while, fitness experts recommend not working out for another 24–48 hours so that your muscles grow. Muscles do not grow from working out. In fact, they tear down. But they get stronger from resting. You just or are going through a rough thing physically and emotionally, so you just need to go easy on yourself.
8. Work on another passion project, like blogging.
While I was working, I tried to work on my blog too, but it was/is hard. But now that I am on leave right now, I can put more focus into my blog and make some changes to it. I have so many over due posts right now and I am excited about it.
9. Work out.
I know what you’re wondering: I can barely get up off the bed and you’re telling ME to work out? It doesn’t have to be anything intense! It can be a walk around the neighborhood. Anything to get your blood flowing and muscles getting stronger. You need to, especially if you’ve been bedridden like I was (in the hospital, I did go out and walk around the hallway a few times, but it was hard to do so while being hooked up so I stayed in bed 97% of the time). I refused to get PT afterwards because I was lucky to recover fast, though my movements and dexterity are still somewhat slow. The more you move, the stronger you get. I love Ballet Beautiful workouts for the aesthetic results I get (the instructor, Mary Helen Bowers, makes me really lean and slim), but since I’m on prednisone I’m not going to get those. However, her workouts are gentle on the joints, and relieve pain in your back, hips and core while strengthening them and improving your day-to-day movements.
10. Take things one thing at a time, everyday.
When you struggle with a chronic illness, especially after a flare, every little task can seem so daunting and overwhelming. Managing your medications, doctor’s appointments, figuring out what you have to do for work and your driver’s license, etc. But just remember as long as you’re on your leave, you don’t have to complete every little task everyday. Do what you can and break the tasks down.
How do you manage self-care and completing tasks while on medical leave?
Hannah is a travel writer, graphic designer, and the founder/editor of Hannah on Horizon. She is based in Sacramento, California, living with her husband and two adorable dogs. She shares tips on how to experience luxury travel on any budget, and how to maximize time at each trip or destination, no matter what your budget or amount of vacation time at work. She enjoys making you feel like you have visited each destination with her through her storytelling and informative writing style.