by Ned Stoller Ned Stoller

Chronic fatigue is a very real and difficult diagnosis and/or condition to deal with, especially as a tradesman.

Speaking personally as someone who struggles with chronic fatigue in combination with other symptoms, I can understand first-hand how it can directly affect your work. For years, before I had to stop working as a veterinarian, just to get through the day I had to stop numerous times throughout the day and rest – or even sleep. Without this, I wouldn’t have been able to work at all – and eventually even with that it reached a point to where I could not continue. (The continuous seizures is what sealed the deal, though.)

Fortunately, most people with chronic fatigue do not have the symptoms I deal with! Typically symptoms include some fibromyalgia and joint pain. Now, this is not a blog devoted to the symptoms and treatment of chronic fatigue; there are innumerable articles and columns on this throughout the web. My focus today is on being able to continue working at the job you love even in the face of condition.

The main topic I want to touch on is the importance of being smart and protecting yourself and your co-workers. Even healthy individuals can make dangerous mistakes and errors while fatigued in the workplace or at home. It may seem like you need to push on through the fatigue to finish the job, but since many of you work with tools and equipment that can seriously injure or even kill it just isn’t wise. As hard as it may be, you need to put down that tool and take a break. That can be very hard. As a large animal veterinarian some of the hardest working people I have ever met are farmers (although it certainly isn’t limited there!) They can be some of the most stubborn people ever who insist on continuing to work even when they shouldn’t.

Hopefully you have an employer who understands your condition, even just a little, and can work with you to handle it. I was fortunate enough to have one who did and was very patient – he would have liked me to continue even though it was costing him money and time. An employer who does work with you is actually protecting himself from lawsuits or workmen’s comp claims.

The use of energy saving tools and equipment is essential in being able to continue in your trade. Even though it may seem as if it would take longer to get and set up or use something that will make it physically less strenuous you need to take the longer view. Chronic fatigue is a condition that must be managed. A task that may take a little longer now will save your energy for tasks later. You don’t want to use up all your “fuel” in performing tasks that can be handled easier.

Probably the most difficult topic to cover is the possibility you may have to change your profession. Unfortunately, there are only so many tools that can make your task possible and sometimes it just isn’t possible to continue – I can relate.

One of the most difficult things a chronic fatigue person can deal with is the fact that they don’t look injured or disabled – frequently they look normal! As hard as it may be, you have to be smart and think of your family or your health. There is no replacing limbs that are injured beyond repair or bringing back a life that was lost because of an accident due to mistakes due to chronic fatigue.