Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sunday, January 03, 2010 RAmom, Community Member, asks

Q: Anyone taken short-term disability leave from work due to RA?

I am in the midst of switching from prednisone to methotrexate (down to 10 mg of pred. and 2.5 mg x 4 per week of meth.)and my flare ups have been awful in the last week or so. I've been on meth. for 4 weeks now. Hands, wrists, feet and ankles are the worst. Have difficulty walking, especially in the morning, and my hands hurt all day. I am also just very rundown and tired all the time. My Dr. has advised me to apply for disability leave for 3 months while he tweaks my meds to get the RA under control. He thinks he needs to add a TNF inhibitor with the meth. Am waiting another few weeks to see if the meth alone will do the trick. I am feeling miserable but still strangely guilt-ridden about taking my Dr.'s advice and not working right now. I am sort of a perfectionist and I feel like a failure by announcing to the world that I am too sick right now to work. I would love to know if anyone else has dealt with this particular issue before.  

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Answers (12)
Phillip, Community Member
1/ 7/10 6:19pm

Has your Dr said anything about watching what and when you eat? If not ask him. I worked for a Rail road and i was given time off when i neededI took 10 months off and they paid me a stand by monthly payment. They were very understanding . I had best results with watching my diet. You will be shocked by what hurts and what dosen't. Try a keeping a list of foods that hurt

Retired Rail Road Conductor

bpm, Community Member
1/ 4/10 6:04pm

I faced RA for 4 years before I could even admit to myself that I was incapable of working. My doctor had suggested a few times that i go on short term disability and being a perfectionist as well, I did not want to do that. I would never admitted to the people i worked with that i was exhausted. Finally I could not go on any more and in Jan 2009 I was forced to go on short term disability. It was the best thing that I have done for myself. I have only hurt myself by not listening to my doctor early on. Quite a few of my joints are badly damaged.

Recently i have gone on a gluten free diet and that has helped bring my energy levels up and the inflammation has also gone down.

RAmom, Community Member
1/ 4/10 7:15pm

Thank you so much for answering! I haven't had anyone else with RA to talk to about this and it really helps to hear from you! I did decide to apply for disability, and frankly, am feeling so awful that it is a good thing.

Ann02, Community Member
1/ 6/10 5:13pm

My story is exactly like yours except I am still working 4 days a week as a nurse..on my feet..multiple joint replacements/prob..I appreciate your input and will look into the gluten free diet Laughing

NZippy1, Community Member
1/ 7/10 10:35am

I am married and my husband and I live on the lower level of a single family home w/my parents because I need help w/all my activities of daily living. I have had severe chronic Systemic JRA since 3. I am 37 now-34 years of JRA (mine very similar to Lupus) now have RA, OA and many other medical issues, have had 15 surgeries, 10 since 1998.  Both hips and both knees replaced and one elbow replaced. Revision surgeries on all replacements, history of stress fractures.-5 surgeries for those. On Enbrel, prednisone, Imuran and many many other meds. I have been on disability since 1997. I work 3 hours a week at the local library and work from home as an E-Rep for Avon. Avon has many products to make our lives easier. Check out my store today at Use coupon code FSANY for free shipping. Life is about accepting our limits. I have had it very rough but I am very determined and strong and have a very supportive family. 

Jessica, Community Member
1/ 7/10 11:46am

I am on what my company calls family medical leave , however I can be late for work. Go to Dr appointments and such.

If I need to be out for the day due to RA, it is not a problem.

I do try to work fourty hours a week, I have a desk job.

You doc may have to right idea. My meds change all the time. If you can take the time your body, as you know need the rest.

With all the meds. I still have more days I have trouble. Goog Luck!!! :+)

kcuts, Community Member
1/ 7/10 12:25pm

After having one of my worst flares (normally November is the worst for me) not one of my doctors even suggested I go on disability. I missed 2.5 weeks of work and luckily I had sick time to cover it, but I should have gone on disability I could barely walk when I did return to work. It was the better part of another month before I could walk any distance. I have a desk job and frankly I was glad to be back, I missed my co-workers they are all super people. My doctor did give me the app to get a disability parking permit and they put me on prednisone for 1 month that seemed to help somewhat. I thought prednison helped with the pain as they took me off my painkillers and said to take Tylenol which did nothing for me. After my blood pressure skyrocketed they put me on Vicodin for a couple of weeks till the pain subsided. Is that normal that I felt better on Prednisone (more energy not so sick and nauseated) but did NOTHING for the pain? My RA doc was gone and my regular doctor said Pred will control the swelling but not necessarily the pain associated with it.

vicki, Community Member
1/ 7/10 9:19pm

I went thru this, continued this same work schedule.With all the several meds. i took my dr.gave it took a toll on my heart and then I  had to have nitro. for irregular heart. I also felt the guilt and needless feelings had to start depression meds. I changed doctors and suddenly 2 weeks after I did I was put on disability. the specialists I saw couldn't believe I was putting my body thru all that.I was constantly just hurting my self.Please take your doctors advise.all my joints kill me,weak feeling, rheumatoid specialist saved my life!Its a big transition-just jump.

Naomi, Community Member
1/ 7/10 9:38pm

I haven't had actual disability--can't get disability till next time--but I am presently on a medical leave of absence.  I suggest you take your Dr's advice and not push yourself.  Everytime I've tried to keep up with my schedule during a flare it's cost me longer time off work and a whole lot more pain and suffering.  If he'll back you on time off, take it!  You will need it to recover and regroup and you'll feel better afterward and be more productive if you do.  I'm on my 4th year of RA and am still tweaking the meds, so you may have a few episodes of tweaking ahead.  Good luck and I hope your pain subsides quickly!!

Aunt Lena, Community Member
1/ 8/10 3:06am

I have been on "intermittent status" with FMLA for several years which protects me in terms of needing to take more time off that I have sick/vacation days and from the call-off limits.  I have never been off much longer than a week at a time but it helps me to deal with the worst of the flares.  I am fortunate that I have a sedentary job with semi-flexible helps when I can work 10-6 or 11-7 because mornings are tough.  But then, I only work and sleep a lot of days. 

I struggled with feeling like a bum on my relatively more disabled days for a long time but over the years have come to a gradual acceptance and realistic sense of what I can do and not do. I know my job needs me but also want to be able to do a good job while I'm there.

LG, Community Member
1/ 8/10 4:25pm

I took long term disability shortly after I was diagnosed.  RA flares are so unpredictable . the fatigue, and joint pain has me living for the good days.  Meds help a lot, I am currently on Remicaid and it helps so much.  Hang in there, once you have the right meds you will have many good days.  LG

Jana, Community Member
2/ 7/10 5:43pm

I had to take 1.5 years of disability (short-term) due to RA.  I am experiencing a horrid flare now, and while I can barely type, need the support of other RA'ers at this time.


Please try not to feel guilty for having to go on STD.  If you can, try a biologic with the methotrexate--right now that is the combo for the best results in squelching many of your RA symptoms.  My hands, wrists, feet, and neck are the worst, like you, and I have noticed that each new flare I have is worse than the last.  Do you experience this?


You'll be better rested and able to do a better job if you take STD.  And, your mind will be renewed with the rest as well.  You'll gain a new perspective on life, I think, during your time off.  Do take care.



DK, Community Member
2/ 8/10 3:01pm

I got sick August, 2006. I'm in a flare right now, severe burning pain, and fatique.I take injection 6ml of methotrexate on Saturdays. I keep a sinus infection. I have been on steroids, anti-inflammatory, n-saids, and MTX. Nothing has helped my pain. I also have connective tissue disease, ostearthritis, fibermayaga, total degenerative back disease. I pray, cry, have considered taking my own life. Believing in God and his word has kept me here for I do not want to burn in HELL. I live day to day for that is all I can do. I went back to work for 14 months in a powered wheelchair to no avail. I was put on total disability June, 2009. I was out more than I was there. Took a year to realize this was beyond my control I could not WORK. I only can hope and believe that someday I will be pain free, so I can get back to living well. 

april7311, Community Member
11/ 5/10 3:42pm

I am actually about to sign up for STD. after living with RA for 7 years I finally got a good doctor and the insurance needed. I have let it go too long and have become severe. My work actually suggested me taking the time off so I could properly rest and my doctors are saying that would be best too. I have just started methotrexate and have been on daily steroids for 2 months. I am still in a flare at the moment. The steroids do keep it at bay. But the combo of drugs have given me an ulcer. I know I have to deal w the side effects as they happen, doc says it is critical for me to do the metho right now. I was stressing so bad trying to work everyday - unable to make it though ( I was on intermittent leave, so if i needed to leave/ come in late I could) but I still was stressing about the money. Hopefully everything goes through with STD and my mind can be eased and my body can heal. 

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By RAmom, Community Member— Last Modified: 04/18/13, First Published: 01/03/10