97 | P a g e 89. TOYE (2016) [157]: The battle for legitimacy I am in a battle to prove that I can no longer work because of my pain and that I need sickness benefits. Critical decisions about my life are outside of my control. Choosing to leave benefits and return to work is risky because it is so difficult to gain benefits in the first place. I wouldn’t risk leaving benefits for some jobs. Benefits officers lack the skills and understanding to help me get back to the right job. Because of my pain I am stuck in a low income job with no opportunity for retraining. CHRONIC PAIN 90. TOYE (2016) [157] the system does not facilitate RTW The system is against my return to work. I have to go to the doctor to get a diagnosis for time off work. This may affect my future employment or alienate me from work colleagues who have to shoulder the work load. A compensation claim would also alienate me from colleagues. I take holiday rather than be certified sick. There is no dialogue between employers, occupational health and health services and this makes it difficult to get back to work. My doctor just issues a sick note. CHRONIC PAIN 91. MENGSHOEL 2017 [162]: personal credibility & dignity I live with invisible pain in the face of negative attitudes. I struggle to maintain credibility and hide my FM. I struggle to convince my doctor that FM is was not imaginary. I feel blamed and accused of being 'lazy or work-shy'. If I don’t get better people question my character and motivation. I feel like a 'difficult patient'. I feel humiliated. FM is stigmatised and people think that it is: hypochondria, ‘women’s disorder’, or hysteria. Sometimes I begin to question the reality of my own experience. CHRONIC PAIN 92. MENGSHOEL 2017 [162]: Questioning the FMS diagnosis and medical authority At first, I accepted my fibromyalgia diagnosis as it validated my pain. Now the diagnosis seems ‘empty’ and doesn’t help me understand or treat my pain. I have become sceptical. My Dr explains away all my symptoms, even without an examination it is 'a waste-basket’ diagnosis to keep me quiet. I have started to question my doctors’ competence. My faith is in medicine is being replaced by faith in my own expertise and judgement. CHRONIC PAIN
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