Rheumatoid Arthritis and work and being ‘unemployable’


The keyboard (#18/365)A few weeks ago my employment services officer declared me unemployable and closed my file. This didn’t help my current feelings of depression!  Her organisation exists entirely to place disabled people into suitable employment.  While I would have thought that I would be a relatively easy case to manage, with some advocacy and support from them, apparently not!

I know my current physical condition is not good.  I have 4-5 knockdown days a week.  My definition of a knockdown day is that I achieve nothing, except what my kids need.  I have been going to the gym once or twice a week, and often leave because I can’t continue the class.  My pain levels are high, so I take a lot of oxycodone.  Slow release and immediate release.  My doctor is not happy about how much I am taking, but, I don’t feel I have a choice. I can’t function without it.

Because I am drug affected (slow reaction times, reduced alertness) I don’t want to drive my car. This only adds to my isolation.   I really appreciate the few friends who come to visit me.

I am repeatedly told how great I look.

Emotionally I am dealing with bouts of depression.  Being declared unemployable did not help.  This morning I saw this link about why people with rheumatoid are often forced out of the workforce.


When RA makes work unworkable

It all makes perfect sense, but it’s not so simple.  It doesn’t mention the impact of not working.  Not just the financial aspects, but the isolation.  The lack of a ‘purpose’.  Even the lack of a topic of small talk.  The lack of a place to connect with others and make small talk!

I joke that I just want a job so that I can hate it, just like everyone else.  But really I just want to be normal.  There are days where you don’t want to go to work, sure.  But work contributes to your well being in so many ways.  I want to have a future.  I want to improve my financial situation.  I want to have a normal life.  I want to have work friends, and work functions.  I want to achieve something with my time.

One of my friends suggested I clean houses for a living.  I told him I can barely keep my own house clean. He responded that it’s not hard work.  And he has arthritis in his shoulder and he manages just fine.  Normally I would let that go, but this time I told him:

‘Imagine that pain in ALL of your joints. Then try to clean a house.’

He gave me the ‘eye roll’.  I don’t think we’ll have coffee anymore.  I don’t need that attitude.  As I said, I am dealing with some depression.  People either help or hurt. It is that black and white when you are depressed.  Right now I am putting some space into that friendship.

But I digress.

I am officially unemployable.  I am now at the stage where I need to apply for my Total and Permananent Disability Insurance.  I’m told this is a long, drawn out process.  I will have to prove my disability, which will be hard because I have no bone erosions visible on x-ray (or I didn’t a year ago) and my blood work is normal.

Nuclear bone scans and ultrasound do not count.  Cartilage damage caused by my RA does not count.  My rheumatologist refers to it as ‘secondary osteoarthritis’.  The constant inflammation of uncontrolled, active Rheumatoid arthritis accelerates cartilage damage.  So this is quite clearly damage from Rheumatoid Arthritis, as far as I’m concerned.  But all the insurance company sees is ‘osteoarthritis’ which is not good enough for them.  They need bone erosions to prove rheumatoid arthritis.

The process will take about a year.  I am not hopeful, but I don’t have a choice. And the year will pass anyway.



  1. I know how you feel, I once was a Nurse educator in Cardiothoracics and Trauma, now I can not even open a band aid without pain. Have you considered prostitution, at least you get to lie down!!! Sorry coulnt help that one, sick sense of humour from years of nursing. Its frustration to be stuck at home, I am really lucky the enbrel is working and I am now thinking about what I could do for a job, since I will never be 100% again I am thinking about what I would retrain as, but at 45 the chances of getting a startup position are slim. I have been told that RA is not considered to be a permenant disablilty so we get no centrelink aid, not even a health care card- my meds cost approx $300 per month. More than money though its the self esteem, I always valued my self by the level I was at work but now Im JUST a stay at home mum!! Not that I am knocking stay at home mum, I think they do a great job, but its not my choice. I guess thats the root of the problem-ITS NOT MY CHOICE. That makes me angry and frustrated! I think you have a job but you do not know it or make money from it.Your blog keeps people like us from going nuts, you have a real talent there, I know it dosent make you money but value your work from how many people are helped by what you do, then count yourself truely rich! Anyway enough of the corny stuff, keep blogging and know that UNEMPLOYABLE is a term used by these morons to put you in a box and shut the lid, then its no longer their issues. F%$# them I say, you can not put a determined lady like you in a box!! Keep well. xxxxxx

    • Thankyou so much Sarah! You’re right – they just wanted to put me in a box and close the file, cos it’s easier for them! Humira is helping me some, so I’m thinking of business ideas…an online business, a product to sell…I don’t know yet. But these are more positive ponderings 🙂 Thankyou for your kind words. I forgot how much writing helps with my emotions – and the thought that my words might help other people too, that’s pretty awesome, and yes, better than money. As for prostitution…LMAO! I’ve been single so long now I might need a refresher course…LOL

      I’m so glad that Enbrel is working for you. Its hard to start a new career when you’re over 40 (I’m 43) but I have a feeling nothing will stop you once you decide on your new direction. All the best! xxx

  2. I have been reading your posts with interest, have to say, you have an absolute gift for expressing what so many arthritis sufferers go through – so unemployable you may have been deemed by people that have no idea what life is really all about (or for that matter what you are about) – rest assured you have a gift here, and it is helping folk, and therefore you are EMPLOYED and serving the arthritis community well. Wishing you peace and ease!

  3. May everyone who reads this comment have a great day for this year! Together, let us not forget that we only have one life yet on a positive note, we have every day to make the best out of it. Let’s dedicate time for our friends, family, and loved ones, do our best at work and school, and always have time for fun and self-improvement.

    • Beautifully said Gina! Our worth is NOT measured by jobs or money, but on how we treat ourselves and others…with love. All the very best to you, love your attitude to life xx


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.