I have lived with long term physical disability for over twenty years, in this time I’ve not been capable of working a typical 9-5 type office job and could have spent all this time on long term disability benefits never working.
My health problems became an issue at University over twenty years ago, in the final year of a BSc degree in genetics I literally could not sit the final exams: was around 21 hours of exams away from a science degree in genetics :-(
Had to drop out of the University of Sussex on medical grounds in the final year and was never able to finish the degree course, which is why today I earn a living making money online.
Entrepreneurs with Long Term Disabilities
Despite my health problems I’ve built several successful online business ventures (everything I’ve tried has been successful) and today (2014) have made enough money to buy a house (paid off a mortgage in around 5 years), have significant savings and own a network of websites that passively generate more than enough money to live off comfortably.
I can and have taken extended periods of time off work because of disability from what I consider “active work” (working to build new money making business opportunities) and what I’ve built previously pays for my time off work. Since I own a network of websites I can’t completely stop working, but maintaining websites isn’t time consuming: building content and products is time consuming.
As a disabled entrepreneur it’s an enviable work position to be in, I’ve taken periods as long as 18 months off active work and just maintained my business, kept it ticking over: basic maintenance until I felt better.
Not many disabled business people are this lucky work wise, so despite my health problems I know I’m doing well as an online entrepreneur.
Long Term Health Problems
Over the past twenty or so years my health has worsened, I started with degraded discs in my back in my early twenties that caused significant pain when sitting and standing and to a lesser degree when walking. Although I wasn’t completely comfortable lay down I could generally find a comfortable position with the aid of pain killers (narcotics: morphine and it’s derivatives).
Up until around 6 years ago I could and did spend 12+ hours a day working online from bed. Looking back it was heaven compared to today, I have an obsessive work ethic, when I start a project it’s full on and would regularly spend every waking hour working.
As you can imagine being able to work 12+ hours a day on a project means you can get a LOT done, I also don’t sleep much (lucky to get 6 hours a night). I would work for weeks at a time working pretty much every working hour with a few hours off a day to spend time with family: since I work from home I was with my family 24/7.
My back got much worse around 6 years ago (had to ‘shuffle’ to go to the toilet) and spent over a year pretty much lay still in bed before going to the doctors (did I mention I don’t like going to the doctors, that’s the last resort), spent the time playing World of Warcraft, took my mind off the pain though even there made money from playing a game by reviewing World of Warcraft Clickbank products.
Around 4 years ago had the two degraded discs in my back fused (major operation: 18+ months recovery time), I have a protruding disc as well, that’s had no treatment. I was hoping the back operation would improve my health, but though the back operation was successful in fusing my spine (it’s stable) did not take the pain away, it got worse: my morphine intake peaked at 200mg a day not long after the back operation!!!
Attitudes to Disability
Since then I’ve changed my approach to life, before I’d spend weeks barely doing anything beyond working on a computer in bed and popping pain killers, now I try to keep active despite the pain.
In fact I’ve found keeping active helps with the pain management and haven’t had a day go by in at least three years without walking at least 2 miles a day.
Used to go by the quote “Life sucks and then you die, so make the best of it while you can”.
New mantra is “Life is too short to be anything, but happy”.
Have reduced pain medication to the equivalent of 5mgs of morphine a day (almost got off the pain meds at one point), walk 5 miles a day (two, 2 1/2 miles walks a day), have dropped 3 1/2 to 4 stone in weight over the past 2 years (currently weight a few pounds below 10 stone) and weight train (with relatively light weights) several times a day: I look great for my age, almost have a one pack, but feel like s##t :-)
My back feels like I’m an Action Man toy with opposable limbs where the elastic bands in the arms and legs have been tightened by twisting the arms and legs until the elastic bands are too taught!
I can no longer sit on my coccyx, feels badly bruised (when driving have to sit on a ring) and my upper back feels like the muscles have tightened: just rotating my arms makes my shoulder joints pop!
And my lower back hurts as it always has.
So currently can’t sit or stand still and find it almost impossible to find a comfortable position lay in bed working, but I’m more active than 10 years ago and I’m still working and I put it down to a change in attitude towards disability.
Living with Chronic Pain
I’m 44 next month (birthday is May 19th, I’m expecting presents :-)) and it’s highly unlikely in the near future my health is going to get significantly better. In the past when my pain got worse I slowed down waiting for it to improve, but it never did.
My final year at University the plan was to take a year out, get a cure for my back pain and go back to repeat the final year so I got a good degree: had I sat the exams with back problems I’d have probably got a 2:2 (assuming I could find a way to sit for 21ish hours) because I’d not been able to study effectively in the final year due to the back pain. So I planned to wait for the pain to get better: totally unrealistic in hindsight.
As I mentioned above looking back to twenty odd years ago it was heaven compared to today.
When I started working with computers it was uncomfortable to sit at a desk, so built a bed with a back slope, so my back was roughly at a 30 degree angle. I would lay in bed, slightly sat up, and would have the keyboard on my lap and mouse on a table to the right of the bed, it worked.
When my coccyx started to hurt that position was no longer comfortable, had to work lay slightly on my right side which made it harder to type and it isn’t comfortable.
I could lay still for hours at a time working, now it’s under an hour at a time and it’s rare to be comfortable and find myself moving to different positions to try to get more comfortable. Not found a way to adapt to this fully yet, but will.
Now I could make the mistake of waiting for my health issues to get better, but from past experience I know it’s highly unlikely to improve, so I’m tolerating the pain and discomfort and building new revenue streams like this website. Although I’ve owned this domain for a couple of years at the time of writing I started adding content just a few months ago and it’s already on the verge of some potential high traffic Google search results.