Gout: work and finances

Some people were able to go to work during attacks, but others had to take time off because of the severe pain. Several found it difficult to get to work, particularly if they had to travel by tube to central London. Others found it hard to concentrate because the pain was distracting. 
Some people went to work even though they were in severe pain because they would not get paid otherwise. They worried about the financial impact that their gout was having. Gerald was told that his annual pay rise had been decreased because of the time he’d had off work with gout. Others were glad that they did not have to worry about money because they received sick pay when they were in too much pain to work. Peter was glad to find that the cost of his travel insurance was not affected by having gout.
Some people told their employers that they had gout, but other people chose not to mention it. Like Harry, some people found that their colleagues made fun of them for having gout, or for limping or using a stick. (For more see ‘Historical perceptions and myths about gout’).
Gerald’s employers were not sympathetic about his gout. He believes they did not understand the pain he was in. Some people worried that their colleagues would see them as lazy because they did not understand the impact of gout.
Others found that their colleagues and employers were sympathetic. John’s employers adjusted his workload. Sam’s employers provided her with a new chair and other equipment to make her more comfortable at work. Hazel was able to work from home during attacks so she did not have to take time off.

Joe and Runibunar were working in jobs that required being physically active. They both went to work during some attacks, but sometimes the pain was too bad for them to work. As well as attacks, the side effects of colchicine (diarrhoea and sickness) also meant that some people were unable to return to work even though the pain had subsided. 

Some people who had desk-based jobs could continue working because they did not need to walk around much. People like Michael who were self-employed sometimes found it easier because they could manage their own time. 
Gerald eventually had to stop work completely because his gout attacks were so frequent and severe. Jill works as a volunteer because it gives her greater flexibility to take time off during attacks. She believed that this would be impossible if she was in paid work. One woman felt that having regular flares meant she could not look for a new job – she felt that it would be too difficult to explain her situation to a new employer. 

Jeff Z found that putting his joints under stress sometimes triggered attacks. His physical work in the ship repair industry sometimes gave him attacks. Runibunar also found that his work made his gout worse. Several people believed that stress at work had impacted on the frequency of attacks. Simon and Peter both felt that having gout gave them a better understanding of what it was like for other people to live with a long-term condition – something that was helpful in their jobs. 
A few people talked about how retirement had made a difference. Shirley was pleased that she was retired and so did not have to go to work when she had pain. She appreciated being able to rest at home. Carole is now retired, but was sometimes concerned about having to take time off work before she retired. Other people felt that work had been a useful distraction from the pain when they had still been in paid work.

Last reviewed December 2016


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