NRAS
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Running on empty

Hi,

I’m usually a positive, upbeat person, but I’m finding this RA malarkey very hard going at the moment.

I have a very busy job, which is quite stressful - I don’t think stress gets me down, but I am aware I’ve been ‘running on empty’ for a long time. I drag myself in to work even if I feel rough. I think if I broke my leg I’d say ‘ah, don’t worry - I’ve got another one’!

It’s not possible to have an easy-ish day if I’m feeling under the weather. I have quite a senior post, and I’ve explored to possibility of a move but been told no.

I talked to my employers a while back as I was struggling, and dropped from a 5 day week to a 4 day week. My job didn’t really shrink, so if anything I’ve been squeezing 5 days into 4. I’ve survived like this for about 18 months, but it’s clear I can’t carry on at this pace. I am completely wiped out.

I stopped work for the Christmas break, and since then have had every cold, bug, migraine, mouth ulcers etc. I saw my GP and she’s signed me off for a few weeks to give me some space and a chance to build up again.

Before I went off I started exploring different options - I really can’t afford to drop to a 3 day week as I still have hefty mortgage (the cut to 4 days has been a struggle financially). I live on my own so there’s no-one to help me when I’m struggling (and I’m far too stubborn to ask for help!!).

I’ve just turned 55 and have been looking into taking early retirement. I already do some voluntary work and could do more of this when I feel OK.

My work pension scheme has a pretty relaxed definition of ‘ill health retirement’ it’s open to interpretation as to whether I might qualify, so I’ve put in an application.

I’m not sure what to expect now - I have an interview with the scheme doctor on 13 February. My concern is they won’t take into account my fatigue. My RA is quite well controlled with MXT, HQC etc.

Sorry to ramble, I guess what I’d really like is to hear any good advice or thoughts / ideas. I feel stuck and despondent. If I’m turned down I’m not sure what to do.

Thank you peeps - I love this place, I get so much from the community .... you understand what it’s like living with this 24/7.

17 Replies
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Bless you I feel the same and often wonder how much more can I go on working?

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Thank you, I feel just like you do - something is going to give sooner or later. Sending you a big hug x

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Hopefully you'll get it as it doesn't get any easier, I've been medically retired 2 years now and although it took me 6 months to adjust it was the best thing that happened and all the stress off letting people down and struggling at work went away and I go to the leasure centre most days and do body conditioning 2 days a week and Aqua aerobics and it has helped my Ra although I do have ups and downs, hope things work out for you

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Thank you for replying - that’s exactly how I would like to be x

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That is exactly how I would describe myself before I stopped working...Running on empty! I was a paralegal for 3 senior attorneys with a very heavy caseload, which was A LOT of work. I was in constant pain but I kept plugging along, and worked 50-60 hours a week! My hands have always been my biggest trouble and I’ve had multiple surgeries in the past. Then I had to get my right wrist (dominant hand) fused. You don’t realize how many things you do in a day require your wrist to bend til ya can’t do that anymore! I took 3 months off, went back for 6 months and just felt like I was gonna die. I was worried about finances as well, and I’m not single, so I know that is a huge deal for you. But when my doc said, Kellie if you don’t stop, you’re just buying time til you do this to your left hand. I put my notice in that day, filed for SSA and cashed out 401k. I was approved for my disability benefits 3 months later. Let me tell you as hard it was to make that decision, it’s the best one I’ve ever made for myself. I still have flares, but I feel so much better, I sleep better, and I think I will be able to hold my future grandkids, and 2 years ago I wouldn’t have been able to. I’m 48, had RA since I was 25. My advice to you is like my doc said to me...”Sometimes you have to stop a minute and decide if you have QUALITY life.” Good luck to you and I’ll be praying for you!

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Thank you for sharing that. You are so right with “QUALITY life” - I feel I am just about limping along at the moment, no quality in that. Glad it’s worked for you - thank you x

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I would recommend early retirement if your funds allow x

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I would say stop now whilst you can control whats going on. I didnt listen to my body screaming at me I just kept going until I collapsed. I could hardly move and to shorten the story RD stopped me being able to function as I was unable to move without help. I could talk but couldnt even lift my head. Medics were coming to the housr,taking bloods etc etc, mutterings about locked in syndrome. Different to you as I wasnt diagnosed then. i have not worked since (15 months). But really, my advice is to stop now whilst you can control whats going on. Im not saying the same will happen to you as you are diagnosed. You sound like you have worked hard, so as has been said, you can afford to retire and enjoy your retiement. This wont be what you had planned,but worth considering. Truly I recommend it. Ive just turned 60 this week not in remission but im functioning. Enjoy the planning and then the retirement.

Sorry that was an epic reply, but basically I wouldnt want your body to cause you to have to make sudden decisions. Hope that makes sense.

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Thanks for sharing that, it makes perfect sense.

I think over the last couple of weeks I am realising how run down I have become. I MUST do something about it x

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Have you looked into the possibility of financial help from the DWP. If you have to retire through ill health you may be entitled to Incapacity Benefit - it's worth looking into

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Thanks for that - I’ll certainly look into it. I’m worrying about the medical assessment but that is the starting point for me, things need to be different one way or another.

Thank you!

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Thanks for reply as on re reading I was a bit ott. Just wouldnt want anyone to go through what I did. All the best. Let us know how you get on.

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Hope your application is accepted.

I feel like this a lot, work takes everything out of me and no energy for house or family come evenings or weekends. :(

S x

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Thank you.

At least if it’s not accepted I can sit down and look at the remaining options open to me.

It’s horrible - I’m not in constant pain or anything, it’s the gradual wearing down and fatigue.

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Good luck with the medical retirement. Mine went through in October. I had to be off sick for a year before it could go through, it was originally approved in April. Whilst off sick I applied for ESA once my SSP run out.

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I ended up taking early retirement as didn't want to hang on & push for medical retirement. At that point had mega stressful job, plus very ill mother and two demented parents in law - so just couldn't cope and struggling to get the RA controlled.

Basically it was the best decision I made. I was worried about coping financially as didn't have anywhere near full pension, but discovered that going to work creates costs you can cut out. So I can live much more cheaply! And worried about coping mentally as I loved my job, but that's been manageable. A while after leaving my RA was in remission, and has stayed that way mostly. And I have time to look after myself properly so that really helps.

So think about it, and work out what's important to you and what budget you need and want.

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Thank you helixhelix, I’m glad to hear it has worked out well for you.

I might go down the early retirement route if the ill health doesn’t work out. I’m even contemplating just selling up and moving to another area which would give me enough to live on until my full pension date. It would be a big upheaval but I just know I don’t want to keep pushing myself like this.

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