Making money on one's back without going into sex work?
January 3, 2011 2:11 PM   Subscribe

What jobs or projects can someone do while either laying down or kneeling 95% of the time?

Last summer, after 3 months of debilitating back pain, my brother had a major herniation removed from his lower back. That was five months ago, and he still can't spend more than 20-30 minutes at a time sitting up or standing, so he's going stir crazy and looking for things to do to fill his time.

Of course, he's ALSO worried that he may never be able to go back to his profession (nursing) and is thinking about jobs he could do while laying down or kneeling the vast majority of the time.

So: What projects can one do on one's back (or hands and knees), either for money or just for pleasure? And what jobs could one do -- either short term, or as a longer career -- in a similar state?

So far, I've come up with phone sex, which I think his wife won't be all that happy with, or weeding, which doesn't help much in winter.
posted by rosa to Work & Money (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
As someone who spends a lot of time weeding: weeding wouldn't work well for him.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:16 PM on January 3, 2011

Best answer: Don't think about working in a particular position. Think about working from home, where you can move around however you please. Telemarketing, online customer service, making sales calls, etc.

He was a nurse? Can he run a nurse helpline?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:16 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Would he be able to sit longer if he had a kneeling chair?
posted by decathecting at 2:17 PM on January 3, 2011

Response by poster: A kneeling chair wouldn't help him; all the time he spends in a vertical position costs him, in terms of pain. Sitting or standing in any position is limited to 20-30 minutes at a stretch. He can walk a bit longer than that, but not much more.
posted by rosa at 2:21 PM on January 3, 2011

I think the guy who discovered Britney Spears was in bed rest and had a TV bolted to his ceiling so he could review auditions.

(Or something like that.)

In the medical profession there are lots of people who are paid to view materials (x-rays, records, etc.) and give opinions based on their experience and what they can see in front of them.

Just throwing it out there, but his brain and eyes still work, so it's worth exploring.
posted by circular at 2:29 PM on January 3, 2011

Best answer: Seconding CPB's suggestion that nurses who do phone consultations are pretty sought after. He might look at large health insurers for job opportunities in that field, as well as teaching hospitals doing followup surveys. My dad used to talk with a nurse every week by phone as part of a Parkinson's care management program run by his health insurer (Blue Cross/Blue Shield).
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:30 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I was doing transcription work, I did a lot of it lying on the couch with my laptop propped up on my lap. Work-at-home computer jobs that pay somewhat decently and that don't require lots of training are pretty hard to come by, but they do exist and can be found if you don't mind making a really dedicated search.
posted by frobozz at 2:31 PM on January 3, 2011

It's long been forgot about by many people, but Mechanical Turk?
posted by deezil at 2:40 PM on January 3, 2011

Best answer: What are his writing/communication skills like? He might consider freelance writing or editing with an online company, possibly medical writing. But I'm guessing the phone consultation type work (or maybe remote care via webcam?) is probably more up his alley.

But I hope he hangs in there and gives it more time before giving up altogether on active nursing. I had a herniated disk last year and was in such debilitating pain that I contemplated the possibility that I might never be able to work normally again. It took a full year, but I'm feeling 100% now, and moving about normally and doing all the things I was accustomed to doing before. It took nearly a year, though. I've known people for whom it took even longer, but they did recover.

I'd definitely recommend a netbook (very light and less awkward to handle while lying down than a full-sized laptop) and a chairside/bedside desk with a tiltable surface, both of which helped me enormously when I was similarly incapacitated.
posted by tully_monster at 2:51 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not being able to sit or stand for very long sounds "disabled" to me. Check the phone book for local agencies (state-run or not) whose aim is to assist disabled people. If none of them have any kind of career-advice-person on hand who can help, perhaps they can point him towards one. Someone in personnel/HR at local hospitals may be able to help to with the sort of similar-sideways-career-change circular mentioned.

As for staying amused at home while recovering...take up a musical instrument? Piano and cello and others are out, but there are several that could be played reasonably comfortably on your back or semi-reclined on a sofa/bed (guitar, banjo, mandolin, oboe, clarinet, flute, maybe even a violin).
posted by K.P. at 3:12 PM on January 3, 2011

Not an answer to your question but for your brother's chronic back pain, has he looked into spinal cord stimulation?
posted by doorsfan at 3:21 PM on January 3, 2011

posted by squasher at 3:47 PM on January 3, 2011

Not an answer to your question but for your brother's chronic back pain, has he looked into spinal cord stimulation?

Part of the problem here is that one of his "discs" has been partially removed, and this only happens in the most severe cases. My wife suffered a herniated disc in September, and she basically could do nothing but stay on the couch for two months, and we're all grateful that nothing was removed, because while the pain will subside for a little while, sooner or later the removed mass will be replaced with scar tissue, which will once again cause great pain.

Spinal cord simulation may help, but it could also be quite dangerous in this case, especially in the scar tissue is pressing on the spinal cord.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:13 PM on January 3, 2011

Sounds like going back to actual nursing is not going to happen. Would he be able to tutor (via an online service) nursing school topics such as A & P, chemistry, etc?
posted by MsKim at 6:31 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

While he explores new career options he could also do some volunteering by phone, for a suicide hotline maybe.
posted by mareli at 7:02 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

He could do any job I've had since college because they're all 95% laptop and phone time. He just has to get some specialization where he can work from home. Never going to meetings in person would be the toughest part.
posted by salvia at 8:10 PM on January 3, 2011

Depending in his interests and skills, medical transcription or insurance coding might make good use of his medical training although I suspect that phone nursing might pay better.
posted by metahawk at 10:32 PM on January 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, all, for your thoughts!
posted by rosa at 10:37 AM on January 6, 2011

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