Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) means having to make a lot of hard decisions. One of those decisions is when – or if – you should stop working. But living with MS doesn’t mean you have to stop in your tracks. Many people who are diagnosed with MS lead long, productive working lives. Some people still work successfully for many years. However, there are times when people with MS should consider whether or not to stop working.
Consider the Pros and Cons
People react differently to being diagnosed with MS. Some people are shocked by their diagnosis, while others are relieved to know there’s a name for their condition. Either way, the diagnosis may impact your work life.
If you’re experiencing numerous symptoms, you may consider quitting your job immediately. But symptoms can go away as quickly as they start. Many people with MS get great satisfaction out of their work, so take time to consider what’s important to you. Weigh the pros and cons, and think about your family’s needs as well as your own.
Know Your Options
Because of current technology, working doesn’t necessarily mean staying at the office from 9 to 5. If your MS symptoms are making your job difficult, consider talking to your employer.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employees can ask for reasonable accommodations to do their job. These accommodations may include:
- adjusting your work schedule
- getting a closer parking spot
- taking a longer break instead of several shorter ones
- using adaptive devices to help you perform your job
Often, these accommodations can help you keep your job for years. Your employer may give you a reduced schedule or may let you work part-time instead of full-time.
Although many people may feel embarrassed or guilty about asking for such accommodations, remember that it will only improve your quality of life. You may be surprised how willing your employer is to help.
Think About Changing Paths
Many people think of their MS diagnosis as a door opening to new possibilities, such as a new career. You may find this is the perfect time to concentrate on something you’ve always wanted to do.
This may mean going into business for yourself or starting an at-home or online store. By being your own boss, you can focus on both your work and your health. Freelancing is another popular option as it gives you flexibility and puts you in control.
Some people make decisions based on doctor or family recommendations. But in the end, it’s your choice. The most important thing is your health. Don’t sacrifice your current needs or your MS treatment for your career or job.