I Lost My Career to Fibromyalgia

I Lost My Career to Fibromyalgia

Through the Fog
Right before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia I was completing my externships in phlebotomy tech, and my medical assistant training. I was in my early 50s at the time, and had decided to pursue a career in the medical field. This was something I had wanted to do since high school, but life and children put all that on hold.

I loved working with people, and truly miss that so much. In my training I was privileged to work with obstetrics patients, children at a satellite children’s hospital who needed to get their blood drawn (and needed a few of us to accomplish that), the elderly, and administering EKGs. I was super-excited to start this new adventure, and was beyond disappointed to have it cut short before it really got started.

I know a lot of you have had to leave jobs that you enjoyed, or perhaps just needed, long before you were ready to. I get what a huge blow and disappointment that is. Life is not fair, and fibro is no respecter of persons. Having said that, it sure doesn’t make it any easier to accept, does it?

I loved school. Learning to draw blood on my fellow students, taking vitals, and giving a listening ear. My favorite, however, was performing EKGs. Learning about the heart was so fascinating to me. I thought maybe I could do something from home, but honestly, medical transcription did not appeal to me. I thoroughly enjoyed working with patients and other medical professionals. I think that’s part of why the isolation of FMS is so hard for me. I think I might still be able to work part-time if it was just pain I was dealing with, but the debilitating fatigue, brain fog, and balance/dizziness issues would still make that a no-go for me.

The reason I waited so long to start my training was because it was important for me to be home with my kids until the last one graduated from high school. I’m very thankful I could do that, because I know that it’s not an option for so many other parents. I continue to keep learning just in case a cure becomes a reality, or I miraculously get better.

If you have had to leave a job or career, I’d love to hear your story. Telling it also might help someone else, you never know. I’m here to put my cyber arms around you as you too grieve the loss of your career.


Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.


  1. Tanya Rodriguez says:

    My name is Tanya Rodriguez, I’m currently on dick leave out of my job since february. I dont know if I’ll be able to go back to work because of fibromyalgia. I worked so hard for the past 9 years to grow in my position! but now, is like… fibro placed me bsck on square one! its just so depressing I cant even say!!!
    My supervisor is trying to push me out the door, because.. once you get to a phase 3-4 fibro, the 24/7pain, mental fog amoung other sintoms.. make you unfit to produce… specially if you have been the number one producer for years and the condition makes you have one to many sick days and your profile as an employee starts to turn 180 degrees.

    Im a civil engineer, and very frustrated that.. fibro took away my career.

      • Cindy McBride says:

        Hi Tanya, I have also lost my career due to this debilitating illness of fibro and CFS. I worked at 1 company for 30 years (started on 5/5/86), I loved my job and the people I worked with throughout the years. I was diagnosed with fibro/CFS in May 2005 and had spine fusion surgery in June 2007, after which I returned to work approx. 4 days/week. In Dec. 2015 I needed a life threatening duodenal stricture surgery and in August 2016 another larger spine fusion surgery. After that my fibro worsened and I was no longer able to return to work. I’m now on LTD and have applied for SSDI. I just turned 61 and a little too young to retire if I don’t qualify for SSDI. My husband and 22 yr old daughter don’t understand the total impact that all of these surgeries along with the fibro/CFS have had on my body or the fact that I would much rather be working at the job I loved with the people I love and miss than being in terrible pain and having the fatigue day after day.
        Thank you for the opportunity to talk about these things I have dealt with because most people I talk to don’t wasn’t to hear more than just the basic “I’m fine, how are you?” statements.

        • Kriss says:

          I completely understand and am so worried about my career I am only 45 and am I at my wits end I am single and terrified of losing my job this is so frustrating. Thanks for listening and I pray for you and all people in pain for no fault of their own. ….

          • Cindy McBride says:

            Thank you Kriss, for your reply to my post. I hope for your sake that you do not lose your job. I was in so much fibro pain even before my last two surgeries and missed so much work I had a negative 40 PTO (paid time off) balance. I pray for you too. God Bless.

    • Shailesh Prajapati says:

      Hello there people!! I m from India.I have been facing problem with fibromyalgia since more than two years.I haven’t been diagnosed by fibromyalgia in these two years though I have met above more than 20 docs in past two years.It really affected my studies , I m an engg. student.Also it has affected my personal and social life very badly.So after completing my 5 semesters now I have dropped my studies for a year.After taking drop I visited sahaja yoga centre as advised by my close friend’s mom.So I m practicing sahaja yoga since last three months and believe me I have recovered about 60℅ in these three months.I have regained my emotions back ,my concentration power is back to normal and also I have recovered my memory power by 70℅.Also 70℅ of my pain is cured.I have got my instincts n my mental health almost cured by sahaja yoga.There are sahaja yoga centres in about 93 countries.You can visit the site http://www.sahajayoga.org for more info about it and you can visit the nearby centre in your area.Believe me sahaja yoga has been proved as a cure for so many incurable diseases and also in strength in your mental powers.All the best to all.My best wishes for you all who have been facing hard times due to fibromyalgia.I know the pain.Thank you!!

    • Julie Parsons says:

      It took my career away too! Same thing as you. Boy they dont like people taking sick days. I to produced high numbers and when that went down i knew my employer was trying to find something I did wrong so he could fire me. I loved my job but I was going to quit due to the fatigue and pain.

    • Carrie Alexander says:

      I am in the same situation, just exhausted my short-term disability and all FMLA. I have been denied long-term disability so far because my company’s 3rd party administrator says the treating physicians have not provided enough substantiating information for long-term treatment needs. thanks again Fibro for being such a problem with good and really bad days and not many treatments for all the issues that come with. I am definitely being pushed out the door by my HR Benefits. My manager was very understanding but can no longer hold my position. I am an OSH/Human Performance professional of 30 years. I have now lost 3 jobs over the past 12 years due to this condition, I am applying for social security disability through an attorney because I was denied when I first received this diagnosis and lost my first job to this illness 12 years ago. I have definitely gotten worse and am doing everything I am ordered to do by my Rhuematologist,neurologist and Primary Care. e.g. exercise daily, eat right, sleep (not a problem I am chronically fatigued as I am sure we all understand). I am at my wit’s end thinking about how I am going to replace my lost income and be able to pay normal living expenses and medical bills! Stress isn’t helping at all with pain and fibro fog. I am trying my best to stay positive.

    • Robin says:

      There are no phases in Fibro. Not written in any medical book. You get the Fibro you get and stay at the level usually the rest of your life. As you age you have that on top of the Fibro and it makes you “feel” worse. Being a nurse and having it also for past 20 years I know that their are no “phases” of Fibro.

  2. Tina Blanchette says:

    I know the feeling! I went to nursing school and graduated as an RN at 34. I could run circles around my peers as a Health Aide and attend nursing school at night at the same time. I was able to work for about 8 or 9 years…then Wham! I was a Hospice Nurse and in between patient visits, I found that I would pull over in my car and had huge urges to have to close my eyes. I didn’t get it. My career was something I loved and worked hard to get there. My brain wants to work but I have no control over my body. Like you, I could push myself through the pain part-time, even a day or two a week but the overwhelming fatigue and muscle weakness prevents me from doing much of anything. I cannot be dependable and I hate that. I’m on SSDI now but I am not able to be me. Hugs back at you! It is a loss for sure.

    • Robin J says:

      I am a nurse also. I worked in field 20 years. Did floor work, rural health clinic, ER and Dr’s office. Loved my job. Then yes it was “Whamo” after I had a tumor taken off my spine. It set the Fibro off. Also had 3 back surgeries. I just tried to do a at home job for insurance. I failed. Can’t remember all 20 screens to get info and how to put it in. Huge punch to my self esteem.

  3. Rita Cooney says:

    Robin, as always I am touched by your writings. I never seem to have the time & enough focus to respond to all the times I relate to what you say to “us”. I am very scattered. Anyway I wanted to say that while you had to give up a career that you obviously would have been very good at you have ended up helping countless people in ways you probably never imagined. Even though you are not physically by our side you give us insight into ourselves and educate us and give us strength & friendship. Thank you for that.

  4. Debra Jones says:

    I was a National Trainer in the area of child abuse prevention and children with disabilities. I was also a long time foster parent to adolescent girls who had been maltreated. I taught parenting classes to fathers in jail. I was a part of a three day training for parents of preschool children who had been or were preemies and a variety of other family types. I was doing three keynote training’s and working with parents in a support group. Normally when I did conferences I had someone with me to help with books, training guides and helping with the transparencies. When the third day came to an end, I could not go home. For many days I was so exhausted and spent several days in bed. That was the last time I worked. Now I use a walker or two crutches, what ever I need for that day. I absolutely loved my job, my co-workers and my boss. I sometimes wish I had something electric so being mobile was more possible and maybe I could do more. Something to do with families and support, perhaps be on commission or task force, but I never know what any given day will be like, so it keeps me home and in extreme isolation. Many people my age are looking forward to retiring and I only wish I could go back to work.

  5. Diane says:

    Fibro IS allowed as a disability for filing SSDI claims. Get a rheumatologist to give you the diagnosis, and file for disability. Make sure you fill out the ssdi report thoroughly, using “the kitchen sink” approach, meaning, put in even the most minute complaints and issues. It all has a cumulative effect. If you get rejected, keep appealing!!! Don’t give up. You need a break from work to try to get into a remission state, if it’s possible. Good luck.

  6. Julie Shenk says:

    I homeschooled our four daughters and was going to get back into the workforce in some way. For a while, I did some tutoring but found I could only really (reading) handle one student at a time. They would even come to me. Of course, in education–an hour is intense and then there are preparations between sessions. From there, I tried an after school program for at-risk children and loved the job! It was only for 12 hours per week and four days a week (not counting getting ready time; some homework; and traveling time). Nevertheless, it was a fit until the weather changed to winter and my job description changed abruptly. I tried. Not a good fit. The noise and concentration for me were difficult daily at best. But at first, it was worth the effort. I, also, worked one-on-one with a third grader who had dyslexia of which I could understand and help. Learning new things now is quite tedious and difficult–especially other people’s agendas. I’m still learning and growing. But we could use the money for renovations. Now we are looking into downsizing sooner than later out of necessity. I’m still a poet and writer plus encourager. For now, that will be enough. I am so glad we decided from the beginning of our marriage to live on one income and bank my salary. He’s always been non-profit but God supernatural has provided and given us His wisdom.

  7. Denise Bault says:

    Had my own insurance business – ironically doing health mainly – and was a consistent top producer with whatever product I sold. For 15 years, I helped those who COULD get insurance. Was very happy to see Obamacare finally come to fruition. Unfortunately, fibromyalgia took it all away from me. Fought and fought for disability and finally got it after 3 years of fighting. Hate what has happened to my ability to earn a living. Always took care of myself (and at times others) financially. NO ONE wants to live off of disability! Just like no one wants to be disabled…

  8. Nancy says:

    just lost my job due to fibromyalgia – was let go. now no insurance, no way to pay for it, for doctor visit to prescribe medication or for the medication itself. I have no clue what to do at this point…am broken.

  9. Debra Jones says:

    I feel so horrible you are going through all of this. Without any funding you would be eligible for assistance from your county and you can use the food shelf if someone can take you. Write a letter to churches. I do not know at what level you are at physically or what your age is, but you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Income. That is a long term thing and the county is a short term thing. I hope something is useful!

  10. Rachelle says:

    I was a Nurse Asst for 6 years. I went to school during day and work at night to be a Respiratory Therapist. . I’ve worked at same hospital for almost 26 years. Am almost 50 now. 2 years ago, I started having unexplained hip, joints, muscle pain, sleepiness even while driving. I was a super active person, worked 3 jobs at one time. Now, am always in pain,sore all over my body, migraiNE that lasts 2 weeks at a time,leg spasm and pins n needles.Had to retire on disability from a career I loved and worked so hard to attain. Seek Rheumatologists 3 different times hoping for different opinions, seen a Pain Management Specialist, PTs, Chiropractors. Going through depression, I hate to admit. I still don’t understand how this could happen to me.

  11. Denise Bault says:

    Nancy, I would check and see if you would qualify for Obamacare. Was a real life saver for me. Then, if you do apply and are approved for Social Security Disability, after 2 years of being on it, you will then be able to get Medicare. Am so sorry you lost your job. It’s a horrible feeling…especially when you haven’t done anything wrong. It’s the illness, so please don’t blame yourself. Good luck and God Bless!

  12. StevefromMA says:

    Well, maybe I will post a somewhat positive story as I was able to make it through much of my career as a psychologist until four years ago when the pain got so bad I just couldn’t focus on
    listening to people. The last four years have been downward hell and, while I do feel fortunate that I made it that far with non crippling FM, I regret that just this week I decided to give up my license as I know I will never work again. I worked very hard for years to get this credential but there is no reason to pay to keep it. We all do what we can.

  13. Denise Bault says:

    Steve, I know how it feels to have to give up your license. It’s kinda like a death, isn’t it? That’s how I felt when I gave mine up after 15 years…6 of those years still working with fibromyalgia. The good news is: no more continuing education. The bad news is: income dropped by 75%. Even worse when your identity is strongly associated with your profession, as mine was and I’m sure yours was. It’s quite the “new chapter” in our lives. Adapting can be quite difficult. I hope you have help, along with loved ones who support you and I hope you do well with your “new life!”

  14. Susan says:

    Fibromyalgia/CFS took everything from me. In 2011, I was in my 24th year of my career as a RDA. I loved my work, I was proud of what I did. I was athletic, played softball until I was 49, kayaked, had great friends that I played Bocce Ball with on a league for 6 years. I was single, met my husband online, sold my home and left my friends & family, moved 4 hours away, we got married 11/11/11. By April of 2012, I began to get sick. I worked like that for 3 months the best I could. By July, I told my boss that I was just too sick to work. For 3 year I didn’t have a Dx. April of 2015 I finally was Dx. by a Rheumatologist. I filed for SSD (still fighting for it to this day 4/2017). After I got sick and couldn’t work, my relationship with my husband went down hill. He became angry and hot tempered about everything, complete with ride rage even if I was in the car and he knew it upset me. I lived with this for almost 5 years, spending more time in bed sick than anything else. By June of 2016 I left with 5 days worth of belongings to stay with a friend. I wanted to see if I could feel any better away from the everyday stress of being in a home with no love or support.
    Today I am living with my Uncle in a different state. I have lost my career, my home, my independence, the activities that I loved and even my mother who treated me poorly during a visit, like I was supposed to endure being treated poorly in order to stay married with a roof over my head?! I am still sick, but I have days that I can get out for a walk with my dog and joined a Crochet group to be able to meet other ladies that share the same interest. I am going to be scheduled to see SSD doctors soon to determine my disability. The worst part is, it may have been the chemicals I was exposed to and/or the HepB series that I had to have 2 times, but no way to prove that? It’s called A.S.I.A. Syndrome. Apparently other health care professionals have Fibromyalgia/CFS and are also thinking it was from the vaccines that we have to have. I hope more research can be done in our life time to help with a cause & a cure. Best wishes to anyone with this horrible illness.

  15. Denise Bault says:

    Susan, your story is eerily familiar to mine! Keep fighting for SSDI. Don’t give up no matter how many times they deny you! Make sure you have a good attorney and be sure to explain to them what you were before and what you are now. Let them know about your previous accomplishments and tell them what your life is like now. I, too, got out of a marriage where my husband just didn’t care and it showed. I also stopped my “relationship” with my mother! Too toxic. Too self-serving. Very narcissistic. And to this day I can honestly say I don’t miss either one of them AT ALL. Good luck to you and don’t ever give up!

    • Susan says:

      Wow Denise,
      It does seem that our story parallel each other quite a bit. Thank you for your reply. It does help to have others to talk to. It makes me feel less alone. I’m glad I came across this thread again, I didn’t get an email regarding either response left.
      Take care and best wishes to you as well.


  16. Denise Bault says:

    Susan, to get a “thread” you need to check the box below the comment section where it says, “notify me of follow up comments by email.” That should make any comments directed back to you pop up in your email. Good luck my fibro friend!

  17. Romona Lynn Blaine says:

    Hello everyone,

    My name is Romona, I hate to hear about your pain, but at the same time it’s nice to know that I am not alone in this struggle.

    I to lost my job to fibro, I was a insurance agent for 16 years, didn’t think I would like that job but I loved it, any ways I was forced to take a different approach due a serious accident which wouldn’t allow me to continue my job as a manager/make-up artist for Elizabeth Arden Cosmetics, so I had to give up two jobs that I loved.

    I am a people person and I miss so very much interacting with the public. And I wish so much that I could still do the work that I love.

    Fibro is so hard because it takes so much from us, and leaves us with so many limitations. We have to think about everything we do, and consider the consequences for doing it.

    My husband just passed away in January and this has put a whole different set of fears before me as to what my future looks like alone with fibro.

    Best wishes to you all, keep posting, this is very encouraging.

    • Robin Dix says:

      Romona, I’m terribly sorry to hear about your husband. 😟 I can’t imagine doing this without my husband. I’m also a people person and it’s so hard feeling so isolated. Sending you big hugs!

      • StevefromMA says:

        Romona, fibro is bad enough but we also end up dealing with tough and sometimes unexpected bad life events that make it even more challenging. I hope things go as well for you as they can and keep in touch.

  18. Christina says:

    I’m only 29 years old, I never thought that by 30 I’d be kissing my dreams of a real career goodbye. I graduated from University with a degree in vis arts, a stupid choice on my part, but I had hoped to move into graphic design work or something of the like. The only work I could find after graduation was factory work. I decided to stick with it and refine my design skills in my spare time, so eventually I could apply for the kind of job that I wanted. Two years ago I began getting really sick, I felt tremendous pain throughout my body and struggled with brain fog and extreme fatigue. I had to take unpaid sick leave from the factory position. A few months ago I was diagnosed with fibromyaglia. I don’t qualify for assistance, my husband makes “too much money” in the eyes of the Canadian government (and if you know anything about that you’ll know just how ridiculous their standards are), and I don’t qualify for disability. I’ve resorted to selling things online to try to make a little money to help out our situation but we are pretty much living hand to mouth. I am fearful of my future, it keeps me up at night.

    • Robin Dix says:

      Christina, I hear your fear and concern. I’m so sorry about your diagnosis and financial worries. Have you thought about opening an Etsy shop to sell original letterhead, business cards, etc. you could call it Chronically Creative

    • StevefromMA says:

      Sounds bad but you are really young and they may yet find a cure for you sometime soon. I would find a vocational counselor and take a few tests and get counseling to see what your interests and aptitudes are and how they could be pursued slowly despite fibro. I suspect your province or the Canadian government has a vocation rehabilitation division that will do this free, though they may have a bit of a wait. Good luck.

  19. Whitney Augustson says:

    Dreams, goals, life time achievements, all lost due to my fibro. I’m only 21 and was going to school to be a vet, was in 4H and FFA most of my life and have always loved horses and animals. I started having pain back in middle school but figured my back and neck were just needing to be adjusted. Life became harder throughout high school; I had to put effort into remembering details, fighting my depression and anxiety, and also hiding my pain. No one understood enough to think I could have something wrong with me at such a young age. I pulled up my big girl pants and continued on with my life until the past 2 years where I started to need to eat Tylenol like tic-tacs just to make it through the day, sleeping WHENEVER I wasn’t at work, and my memory started to go even worse. I feel like everyone around me thinks I’m lazy and incompetent, and I know everyone is tired of dealing with me and all of my symptoms. I have came to the conclusion that I won’t be able to become a vet, and that I have to live my life much slower than most. It’s really hard to chew on and understand myself, it’s the ‘Why Me?’, the ‘what could I have changed?’.

  20. Angelica S. says:

    I am in the same boat…I started experiencing body pains in my early 20s, and now at 29 I have arthritis in my back and it pops constantly. I also have hip pain and a plethora of nerve issues. Ultimately, I have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my back, fibromyalgia, and CFS. I had dreams of becoming a veterinary nurse (vet tech) and have once again had to give that dream up because physically I won’t be able to do it long term. This is the 2nd time I have had to let go of a dream due to circumstances beyond my control. I cried for like an hour last night because I’m just so angry that something else I love has been taken away from me…

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