So. I had to quit my second job two weeks ago. I wish I could say it wasn’t because of my PsA, but it was. The short version is that we both drew lines in the sand and were unwilling to deviate for them. The only course of action left to me was to quit.
Still, the long version has more shades of grey than that quick paragraph would suggest, as it often does. So, without further ado, the long version:
I have worked my second job, a part-time retail endeavour, for more than a year. I had PsA when I started — hell, I started flaring the first time while working at a different location in the same chain — but if it wasn’t in remission, I wasn’t doing nearly as poorly then as I am now. I was able to work then pretty well, and, because they knew I worked an additional full-time job, they tried to give me at least one weekend day off per week.
Then, fast-forward to the holiday season. I applied for and was given a holiday promotion, allowing me to act like a lower-level manager from November through December. There were two others, in addition to me, were given the additional duties to, for example, to count cash registers, deal with unhappy customers and support associates. Unlike the other two, however, I didn’t get a weekend off while doing that. I worked from Thanksgiving to Christmas with no days off.
That, obviously, took its toll. Like anything else, I got through it because I had to; I didn’t give myself a chance to think about what it was doing to me. Once it was over, though, I started flaring. My Enbrel stopped giving me relief. I was exhausted all the time. Eventually, about a month or so ago, I had to tell them about my PsA. At the behest of another manager, I wrote the store manager and assistant manager an e-mail, saying in no uncertain terms that I had to have one weekend day off per week or I wouldn’t be able to continue working there.
All went well for about a month, with the assistant manager making the schedule and giving me Sundays off. I had time to go to church, see my husband and our pets and recover. But the store manager apparently hadn’t read the same e-mail I’d written; she made the schedule one day and signed me up for two nine-hour shifts, including one on my beloved Sunday off. I had to tell her that wouldn’t work for me; my health is worth more than $8 an hour. She said she was unable to give me Sunday off all the time; if she gave it to me, she said, she’d have to give it to everyone. (Which didn’t make sense to me; I had a medical reason for needing it. I’m assuming not everyone working at the store has a chronic illness.)
So, I quit. And now, two weeks later, I have nights and weekends free (for the most part).
Still, I can’t help but feel this was mostly avoidable. I do feel some responsibility for the way things worked out. Maybe if I hadn’t allowed them to get the impression that I was healthy enough to work 14 days in a row this never would have happened. Maybe I am to blame for the way things fell out. But I’m not sure. I do know, though, that my body was telling me loud and clear that it could not handle nine-hour shifts, double-digit work days and no days off. Hell, some days, I can’t even handle my full-time job.
I guess I’m still learning my new limits, my new normal. It was nice to pretend for a while that I could be Superwoman, but, as usual, PsA didn’t allow me to maintain that illusion for long.
(Image via We Heart It.)