People continue working during hepatitis C treatment for various reasons. One of my friends noted that working made them feel like the time went more quickly. Another friend said that it helped them stay focused.
Personally, I had to keep my job in order to remain on insurance. Fortunately for me, after talking it over with my doctor, I came up with a plan that allowed me to work full time. If you’re working during hepatitis C treatment, here are my personal tips for maintaining balance.
You’re going to be your number one priority for a few weeks. This advice may sound simple, but by resting when you’re tired, your body will feel better faster.
Drink a lot of water, and eat nutritious, whole foods whenever possible. Schedule self-care first. This may be as easy as taking long hot showers or baths to relax, or as difficult as calling a loved one to help cook dinner for you after work.
By telling close friends and family members that you’re beginning treatment, they may lend a hand. If someone offers to run an errand, pick up the kids, or cook a meal, take them up on it!
You can keep your pride while asking for help. Go ahead and let a loved one care for you after a long day of work while you’re in treatment. You can return the favor when you are cured.
It’s not necessary to tell your manager or anyone at work that you’ll be starting treatment. You’re being paid to perform a job, and all you can do is your best.
My treatment lasted 43 weeks, with weekly shots given at home. I chose not to tell my boss, but I know others who have. It’s a personal decision.
You might need to take a day off for a medical check-up. Find out how many personal and sick days you have available, in advance. This way, you can relax knowing that if a doctor’s appointment is scheduled, or you need to get extra rest, it’s OK.
If you’re talking to your employer or human resource office about hepatitis C treatment, you can ask about the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in case extended time off is needed.
Give yourself permission to just say no to any extra activities. For example, if you’re expected to drive the car pool, bake cupcakes, or entertain on weekends, just say no. Ask friends and family to make other arrangements for a few weeks.
You can add all of the fun stuff back into your life after you finish hepatitis C treatment.
Many of us are guilty of working through our break or lunch time. During hepatitis C treatment, you’re going to need a few moments to rest and relax.
I remember using my lunchtime for a nap when I got tired during treatment. Whether you sit in the break room or leave the building, let your mind and body rest when you can.
While in treatment, I think it’s a good idea to avoid any overtime work, if you can. Once you’re on the road to health, there will be many years ahead to take on an extra shift, try to impress the boss, or earn a bonus. For now, do the best that you can, and then go home and rest.
Because of the short duration, in my experience, most people sail through the current hepatitis C treatment. There are very few side effects. But in case you do experience side effects, you may want to make a plan ahead of time.
Decide in advance who you can turn to for help, if you need it. If you get tired, ask for help with household chores, meals, shopping, or personal errands. By giving your friends and family a heads up before you start treatment, it prevents you from having to hustle at the last minute.
If you have other health-related issues, your doctor may offer some advice about how to help manage other conditions while in treatment for hepatitis C.
Talk to your doctor if you have diabetes, heart disease, or advanced cirrhosis. Your medical provider can focus on helping you get the burden of hepatitis C off of your liver, and also improve your overall health.
All of my personal tips helped me survive 43 weeks of working full time during hepatitis C treatment. My energy level soon began soaring higher than it had in years. When your viral load begins to drop, you can expect a renewed passion for your job — and your life — after hepatitis C.
Karen Hoyt is a fast-walking, shake-making, liver disease patient advocate. She lives on the Arkansas River in Oklahoma and shares encouragement on her blog.