How to Decide Your Career Future When Chronically Ill

Most of us with a debilitating chronic illness, if asked, would admit that as we travelled along the journey of life, we never saw this train called Limitations coming, and if we had, we certainly would move heaven and earth to get out of the way. As children, we dreamed of what our lives would hold and who we would be, encouraged by those who loved us to dream big and wide. But what do you do when the life you have so carefully been creating and carving out begins to fall apart around you because of your illness?

What happens when you are no longer able to hold down a job five days a week, so you go to four, then three, and then even two becomes too much.

I was there four years ago, and it was the scariest and loneliest time of my life. After twelve years of being sick, I could no longer manage many of the simplest tasks of daily living, which included holding down a steady job. Eventually, my disease, which was undiagnosed at the time, progressed to the point that I was unable to hold my arms above my head for five seconds at a time or walk more than a few hundred feet.

However, mounting medical bills and household bills still had to be paid. After pushing my body to its limits – I finally conceded that I had no choice but to recreate my lifestyle and find a way to work from home.

While some may see this as a luxury, for many with chronic illnesses, it is the only way we can survive.

What and how recreating your lifestyle looks like will be dependent on many factors:

  • Your current field of work: Is it suitable for a work-at-home environment?
  • Your relationship with your employer: Are they flexible?
  • The way your home is set up: Do you have room to work from home?
  • Your financial situation: Do you have funds set back to start up a small business if needed?
  • Access to equipment: Do you have a dependable computer/laptop, printer, phone, etc.?
  • Your abilities: What are your talents, gifts, and skills that you could use to start a small business from home that would work with your physical limitations?

Once you have carefully taken all these factors into consideration, you can begin putting a plan into place that works for you and your family. As you recreate your lifestyle, the challenges you live with on a daily basis won’t go away—but they will become more bearable.

When your body is wracked with pain, you can work in your pyjamas propped up in a cushiony bed. Instead of sitting at a desk in an office chair all day, you can create a desk space around a sofa that is more comfortable with a laptop and a laptop stand.

I started transitioning into this change in 2015 and made the permanent lifestyle change in 2017 when I opened my business, Hilton Head Nannies. Having a chronic illness and living with daily challenges, pain, and limitations certainly isn’t the life I signed up for when I dreamed about my future as a child long ago.

However, I am a firm believer that there is a purpose in every serious/chronic illness and a story to be told as God’s plan unfolds. I am still learning to embrace God’s plan for my life. Each day as I turn to him and ask for his help in recreating my lifestyle, I am finding joy, peace, and hope that break through the disease and pain and make me dream like a child again.


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