A couple weeks after moving to California in 2004 I began working as a cashier to get by until I found something more permanent. Over the eight months I was there, I developed a habit of passing out. I ended up applying for a position in the office of the same business and I knew the question of my health would come up. I told them that I would not have any problems because I would be sitting at a desk not standing at a register in the heat of summer. What the doctor diagnosed as vertigo continued, but not to such a serious degree, until my "abnormally large" tonsils were removed. The problem was that the reputation of being "the sick girl" was already in place.
A few years later my husband was diagnosed with diabetes and my stress/anxiety level was continually high. I began having debilitating stomach and intestinal cramps on a daily basis which was diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (lovely phrase, isn't it?). The last place I wanted to be during those moments was at work and I began leaving work early, taking longer lunches, or just calling in sick. I will admit that I was completely undependable during that period even though I hate the thought of that. As life became a little easier, my symptoms slowly disappeared.
And once again I am dealing with becoming the undependable person again because of the Rheumatoid Arthritis. I manage to get through most days just dealing with some annoying joint pain and fatigue, but there have been a few where I sat at my desk nearly in tears. This last Saturday was one of those days. From the moment I walked into the office, I debated about leaving early. On top of the fact that every inch of my body was aching and I had a fever, I could not concentrate for the life of me. Everything was taking three times as long to complete and I was making mistakes that I would not normally make. I kept thinking that I might just push through as long as I could or leave at lunch, but I could not get over the thought of walking out on the work I had. I ended up leaving with only ninety minutes left, but took work home with me that needed to be sent to corporate the next day. After a very long nap and some pain medication, I was able to be semi-comfortable in a cushy chair and finished the paperwork which I dropped off at work the next morning.
But I can't help wondering if it's worth it. Is it worth so much physical pain to get through a day of work just because I do not want to disappoint someone? I want to keep working and I know that I need to keep working, not just financially but for my social and emotional health. But at what point do I say enough is enough and I need to do what is right for me, which is usually rest.