Time is Relevant: Returning to Work
In 1905, Albert Einstein published his first theory of relativity (the special theory of relativity) and… well, hold on, let me stop here. I can go on and on about physics but let’s just make this simple. Why do I say time is relevant? Time is relevant to what? Time is relevant to the individual by which I mean, a day may seem longer to one person sitting around with nothing to do but stare at the wall than it does to a person who is busy and has too much to do in one day. A little different than what Einstein was talking about but it kind of fits.
For the last few years I have been moving at such a slow pace; I had nothing to do but focus on tiny tasks that would normally take a few minutes but instead took me an hour. I had so much free time that time seemed to stretch out for me; the days felt so long! Now I have started working, almost full time, and I am so busy that the days feel so short! How am I to get anything done? I got used to such a slow pace of life that now that I am working my way back into everyday society, everything feels like it’s happening so fast! No longer do I have hours to work on something but instead I must find a way to fit it into my schedule. I am working on this article (for example) before and after work on the days that I have a little free time. My personal blog needs so much work but I never have time to do anything with it!
On one hand it sucks; I don’t know how or when to do anything but work. On the other hand it’s nice; to earn money on my own again and be part of society. It has just been a little hard to adjust. I have been going to bed and waking up at the exact same time, every day, for the last few years and now my schedule is so inconsistent. I am finding that things as simple as “when to take my pills” has become an issue. Ironing clothes? A skill I had almost forgot! I am slowly finding out how and when to take care of business but it’s still tricky for me. I am just not used to it.
For the most part, while I am busy at work, I feel fine, but if I slow down? I get so tired! So I have to keep moving! I take Nuvigil everyday for energy but even with that I still feel like I need coffee! The thing is, I can’t take it right before work because caffeine goes right through me and “oxybutynin” doesn’t stand a chance against diuretics like coffee! So I also have to time when I eat, drink, and use the restroom. So fun! Not… but I am glad to be back as a working member of society. To feel like how I live my life is a direct reflection of how hard I work and not how a computer calculation thinks I should live. It’s motivating and it feels good.
Oh yeah, something else that is taking me some adjusting; the people. For 4 years I have been around more and more people who have a basic-to-huge medical knowledge. After a while I just accepted a lot of things as “common knowledge” in my community of people. Now I am in a completely different community where pretty much no one knows anything about health; who I am in the MS community doesn’t exist in my new life here at work. It feels weird to be on the very bottom of the totem pole again but in a way, it feels kind of nice (for now) because it really makes me feel like I am starting a completely new life.
Most of my MS symptoms are hidden well enough that no one could ever guess that anything was “wrong” with me. I walk down the stairs from the break room really slow but no one ever sees that. My balance gets bad when I work too hard but so far, at the worst, I might just stumble over my feet which is really easy to blame on any number of things. If I kneel and stand up I feel dizzy enough to black out but I can control that pretty well and not let anyone see that my world is spinning. My memory is the worst though; coworker’s names, my schedule, my employee number, etc. But I am learning to find ways around that so in a way, it’s probably stimulating to my brain. Neuroplasticity!
I am too new at this “returning to work” business to give any sort of useful advice as of yet. All I can say is that you know your limits and whether or not you are meeting them, surpassing them, or nowhere near that “line” in the sand. Listen to your body and don’t worry about what other people may think. As long as you feel you did your best at the end of the day, nothing else matters.
Have you returned to work after a long period of unemployment due to MS? Share your story and any tips you may have below!