Can You Work If You Have Lyme Disease?
Working when you are suffering from Lyme disease can be challenging and at times you may feel the need to quit. Lyme disease can be disabling considering that it leads to stiffness and numbness in the legs and arms, fatigue, neurological problems, and mental fogginess if it has progressed into stage three. Many people suffering from the illness have been torn between leaving their jobs and working while under medication. Well, the choice is yours, although you need to keep in mind what you are against.
During the treatment of Lyme disease, one experiences a Herxheimer reaction, which is part of the curative process of the ailment. The reaction can be too severe to the point that one is bedridden and even incapacitated. That would mean you would slack on your job and probably not even go to work because you are not in your best condition. Even with a sick leave, you might not be sure of how long it will take for you to get better. Well, working with Lyme disease is not impossible, but you would have to find your means around working and taking care of your health.
What You Should ‘Do’ or ‘Not Do’ When Working With Lyme Disease
First things first, you need to inform your employer about your condition. Working in secrecy will not be a good idea considering that some days you will be too tired or experience muscle aches. Let your employer know all the information about Lyme disease and what you are likely to go through. If you are under medication, you should also inform your boss and give a rough idea of possible complications you might experience.
Do not overexert yourself. When you are suffering from Lyme disease, you will find out that you cannot work like you would if you were not sick. So, whenever you feel like you are too tired to work, your concentration is shaky, your arms have a tingling sensation or numb, have a severe headache, take a minute and pause.
Since Lyme disease may result in chronic pain and arthritis, you need to find a way to manage the pain. You could take pain medication such as ibuprofen or try home remedies that help relieve joint pain and stiffness.
Give a copy of your diagnosis to your manager and human resources so they can familiarize themselves with the condition. This is an important step for you, as the patient, to work if you have Lyme disease. Furthermore, treatment of Lyme disease, especially in the late stage, can take a long period of time. During the phase which you are undergoing treatment, at least they will be aware of how much you can do or cannot do with regards to your state of health.
Quit, if you have to. As much as you love your job and love working, it gets to a point where you feel you cannot push on. If you get to that point, do not hesitate to make the right decision and quit your job. Working with Lyme disease can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining. Needless say, your employer/manager will require you to meet certain obligations which you might not manage. So, make a schedule and beware of the amount of work you can take in a day.
Applying For Disability Benefits
If you are living with Lyme disease and experiencing some of the severe complications of the disorder, it is advisable to apply for disability benefits and consult a disability lawyer. Ensure you provide your medical history, diagnosis of the illness, treatment history and a note from the doctor on the outlook of your ailment. It is important that you make a strong case for your disability by including how Lyme disease affects your body and the implication on your work performance.
Everyone has the freedom to work if they so wish it. That freedom should not be taken away if you happen to slack in your performance due to any ailment. However, to avoid any misunderstanding between you and your employer/manager, you should inform them about your disease. Provide the necessary information about your condition and create a work schedule that will help you balance between work and taking care of yourself.
Verywell Health: “Lyme Disease and Your Job: What You Need to Know” by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, Verywell Health Link: https://www.verywellhealth.com/working-with-lyme-disease-4783879
LymeDisease.org: “Working When You Have Lyme Disease” by Sharon Ward-Fore, LymeDisease.org Link: https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-disease-work/
Healthline: “How to Apply for Disability Benefits with Lyme Disease” by Tracy Davenport, Healthline Link: https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease/how-to-apply-for-disability#1
American Academy of Family Physicians: “Lyme Disease: Issues in Diagnosis and Treatment” by Robert C. Bransfield, American Family Physician Link: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2020/0901/p299.html