Why Working from Home is Best for my Ankylosing Spondylitis
Ever since I developed ankylosing spondylitis (AS), work has been a source of worry for me. Most jobs, from customer service to traditional office jobs, present challenges for me. Customer service often requires standing for 8 hours while office jobs require sitting for 8 hours, both of which are painful for me. In the past, I’ve had bad experiences with work accommodations and harsh treatment from managers. That’s why I was grateful to start a new job where I would be working from home.
Remote work was a huge relief
Because of COVID, many workplaces went fully remote. Of course, there are downsides to this, but for my chronically ill self, this was a huge relief. I didn’t even have to ask if I could work remotely, because it was a given. Before starting my new job, rather than feeling the usual anxiety related to my AS, I felt in control. Instead of anticipating the uncertainty of a new environment, I knew I would be in the comfort of my own home where I could attend to my body’s needs.
I can move and stretch as I please
While working from home, I can sit, stand, and walk around whenever I need to. I can sit in any position that is best for my pain, without worrying about appearing “professional,” because there is no one around to see me. If my hips are on fire, I can easily grab cooling gel or a heating pad. I can lie down on the floor and stretch anytime. If I was working in an office building, all of these things would be harder to do — for example, lying down on the floor to stretch during an in-person meeting wouldn’t seem very professional. With the freedom to move my body as needed, it is much easier to get through the workday.
It also helps my fatigue
Working from home is also best for managing my fatigue. When a wave of fatigue hits me, I can leave my desk to lie down for a few minutes and make up the time later. My hours and breaks can be more flexible, so I can adjust them depending on how I feel. This flexibility is also convenient for attending medical appointments, doing my injections, and other tasks that wouldn’t fit into a traditional workday in the office.
Commuting to and from work is also something I’ve struggled with in the past. When I’m in a lot of pain, the last thing I want to do is go on a long drive, take public transit, or walk in the ice and snow. If I had to commute to the office, my body would be wiped out before my day even began.
Working from home also allows me to conserve the energy that I usually have to use to appear “fine” to the outside world. Imagine if you had the flu but had to go to work and pretend to be energetic and cheerful all day. Because I’m working from home, I don’t have to worry as much about hiding my pain from others — I can put that energy towards focusing on my work.
AS is unpredictable
Lastly, working from home simply works better with the unpredictability of AS. I never know how I’m going to feel each day when I wake up, but it is much less stressful to spend a bad-pain day at home than being expected to go into the office.
Although one day I hope to work in-person in some capacity, working from home is the best-case scenario for me at the moment. I am also very fortunate to work for an organization that provides accommodations to its employees, such as ergonomic chairs and assistive technology, making my work-from-home experience even smoother. COVID is terrible, but one good thing that has come out of it is that more employees will likely have the opportunity to work from home, even post-COVID. This is a positive development for the disabled and chronically ill communities, and it gives me hope that I will be able to lead a successful career despite my AS.
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?