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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Why I Can Work On the Internet

By HERWriter
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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome related image Photo: Getty Images

I work at home, which is ideal for me since I am recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I don't expend an hour or more of energy getting ready to face the world and get to work. That would leave me ready to collapse before I even started work.

I can take breaks when I need to. The vast majority of my interactions with other people in a workday are via email which means I can space things out so ... things don't space me out.

I've known for a long time that I wouldn't make it through a part-time shift in a store or office without flubbing the job and ultimately crashing in classic CFS fashion. Probably before the end of the first week of such a misbegotten attempt.

Working at home, I don't have two or three people talking to me at a time, no ringing phones competing with someone impatiently waiting at the cash register. No small-talk and chatter accosting my ears and CFS brain at a time when I can't process. No counting back change or filling out refund or return slips.

No loud muzak in the background that would inevitably end up in my foreground, clouding my brain and tipping my delicate (im)balance with vertigo.

I wouldn't be able to handle walking about a store or standing at a counter for more than an hour or so before I'd need to lie down. I would need a personal assistant for the constant forgetfulness and confusion, or to fill in for me when I needed to take a wee cat nap.

See how well that would work?

But even though I couldn't go out and work in any situation I've been able to think of, for even a few hours at a time a few times a week, I am able to type my brains out for hours without flagging.

Well. Without flagging much. And then there are those breaks through the day I mentioned earlier.

But it's only recently that I realized one other -- very important -- reason that I can work fulltime online. And that is because of the nature of computers and the internet, and email.

My memory is bad. I know, you're sitting there nodding and saying how yours is bad too. But really. Mine is unconscionable.

Doesn't matter if it's something I really want to remember. Thanks to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, my short-term memory deletes every few minutes, without saving.

But bless the internet, everything I say, everything that is said to me, every plan that I have, and everything that I have done, leaves a virtual footprint on a website, in a forum, or in an email. I have worked out methods of remembering what I don't remember with CFS idiot notes everywhere.

I plant my idiot notes in the middle of the page I'm working on because I can't remember long enough to flip from one page to another. I have a filing system that can pinpoint anything I've said to anyone in the last two years online.

And that is why you can read these words that I've written. That is why I can be here at all. Thanks, internet.

I spent 15 years losing the battle against Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Four years ago, I found treatment that worked for me, and now I am making a comeback.

http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger

Add a Comment4 Comments

I'm exactly like you, Jody, only with fibromyalgia instead of chronic fatigue syndrome. I used to be a TV news producer, working in a huge room with a studio on one end, a lighting grid overhead, a dozen phones ringing all the time and police scanners chattering continuously. I had hourly deadlines. I used to absorb information yelled across the room to me while I was writing a story and giving directions to a reporter over the phone.
Then, it was like a switch flipped and suddenly I couldn't remember anything, couldn't multitask, and collapsed into a twitching lump of pain after stressful newscasts (which was most of them!)
I left that job 4.5 years ago and have spent the past 4 years working online, somewhere between part time and full time most weeks, and a bit less than part time when things have been really bad. It's allowed me to get the down time I need to heal, and since I write about fibromyalgia & CFS, I've done extensive research that has helped me find treatments that work for me.
The internet is a wonderful thing, isn't it? Thanks for sharing your story!

January 13, 2012 - 1:08am
HERWriter (reply to adrienne110)

Hi Adrienne

I'm glad you were able to make the transition and work on the net.

I have read some of your work over the years. Only a few years ago, yours was one of the few voices that spoke to me -- that knew about this disease, and who knew enough to speak simply enough for brain-addled chronics to be able to comprehend. I was grateful for your presence.

At that time, if someone had said to me that I would one day be writing on the net for people with CFS I would have thought that was crazy talk. I was so sick then. 

The internet has made the difference between my having a life ... and not having one. Making a living, most of my friends, being able to research for my own condition ... it is all happening on the net. 

Thank you for writing.

January 28, 2012 - 11:17am

These are all great practical possibilities for housebound chronics. Thank goodness for the internet! I don't know where I'd be without it. Well. Yes I do. And it wouldn't be pretty.

Thanks for writing.

January 10, 2012 - 11:16am
EmpowHER Guest

Yes, Jody, and what is wonderful is that many companies are allowing people to work from home. So, depending on the level of disability, some with our disease may be able to actually work for a company. For those who can't, even if they do work for home, they are writing books. And, they are using the Internet to promote their books.
I went from newspaper editor and publisher to freelance writer, now with three clients. I control my work load according to my function. When it is a post exertion symptom exacerbation day, I can veg on my recliner in the fetus position, knowing the work can be done the next day.
For other patients, I know someone with an autoimmune disease that handled calls from TV ads for products. After a credit check, you are given access to their computer system, income calls are routed to you. And you process the order. And the best part, you work when you want. No schedule. Just call in and say, "I want to work a couple of hours now."
Also, my statewide insurance company now has someone to answer questions even on holidays, how? Their customer service people are working from home, accessing the company's system to provide service.
I even heard some airlines are letting, even encouraging their phone customer service people to work from home. Saves money from having a building to house them.
Think of all the websites we go to with a "chat now" customer service.
The timing is great for those with disabilities that make them largely home bound. And here is an idea, someone who has this illness could set up a business where others with disabilities are hooked up with these employers. Charge a fee. The "Work from Home Employment Agency." Well, the name could be better. But you get the idea.

January 10, 2012 - 11:08am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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