How Fibromyalgia May Ruin My Job at the Gym

Denial, and maybe subconscious pride, kept me from admitting (during the interview process) that my Fibromyalgia would prevent me from performing, what is, for seemingly everyone else, a reasonably easy job at my local gym, where I have been regularly working out for years. I didn’t lie, I just didn’t really consider the physicality of the job – I was more focused on the “front desk” aspect. I didn’t even realize it’s an “on your feet” front-desk role. I’d seen the ad, on a wipe-off board, one afternoon as I was heading out from a good workout. I was excited to see exactly what I wanted (a part-time, front-desk job).

Sometimes I work out too hard (another example of my denial regarding my medical-condition) and am then (the next day) sorely reminded of my limitations when I am completely unable to move or raise my arms or climb stairs. Other times, I am sensitive to my body’s clues, and I am more gentle to myself. Those days, my delicate state is actually more than obvious to me (but only to me, because Fibro is an invisible-symptom syndrome), and because I know that light exercise is important for Fibromyalgia management, I suffer through twenty minutes on the elliptical.

But, now after two months of six-hour shifts involving constant standing and lifting and bending (and cracking my head on a raised platform), I realize I did myself and my employer an injustice. This situation not only adds physical stress, but also emotional and psychological distress, which amplifies the physical toll on my body. Moreover, I still somewhat want to refuse to admit that my age of 52 years contributes to any body aches, pain and stiffness that is now my constant companion. As I’ve been a gym member for close to thirty years, going more often at times and absent at other times, I’ve always been a physically active person. In fact, when I was on couch and bed rest during my two successful pregnancies, respectively, I repeatedly dreamt of running, since I was forbidden to do so during my waking hours.

So, the realization that I probably need to leave the job is depressing news. And, an epiphany at the same time, maybe. It is another moment when I’m woken up to my limitations. I seem to, at these times, acknowledge, research, see doctors for symptoms, and then, in short order, go back to ignoring the truth, although never the pain, because that’s not possible. For example, I saw a podiatrist yesterday for plantar fasciitis in addition to my complaint that my foot pain and stiffness is constant upon standing and walking. He treated the plantar fasciitis and regarding the pain and stiffness, he basically told me, “You have Fibro, so just deal, stretch and if you have to quit your job, quit.”

Following that appointment, I spent yesterday frustrated and crying. My pity party lasted pretty much the whole day and without a resolution to the question: “What do I do about my job?”   —   In fact, I took the job to conquer the boredom that can come from a solitary existence as a fiction and, as-of-yet unpublished, writer. And, as I used to work full-time at a school, an unending social party of students, teachers and parents, I was feeling a little lonely.  I thought a part-time gig may help me focus on finishing my book. But, I have been spending the days that I don’t work at the gym, managing my heightened symptoms. The epiphany may just be that it is time to own up to my Fibromyalgia and focus on my health above all else. All the rest (and my book) will follow.




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