04 May 2012

its all about perspective.

the following post contains information about my illness.  it is not something that i have shared with many people but please know that if you are just finding out about it now i have not been trying to hide it. honestly, at this point i am just not really sure how to approach it without feeling like i'm trying to give an excuse or seeking some sort of attention or special treatment.  if this is the first time you've heard about it please understand that it is a difficult subject for me to bring up even though i'd really like to.  not only because it feels good to relate to others but it impacts my life quite a bit and knowing what i'm dealing with will definitely help you understand a few things.

a few fridays ago i attended the membership drive kick-off event for prairie roots food co-op and  for many reasons it was a wonderful event.  the room was so full the crowd spilled into the hallway and it seemed like quite a few people signed up for memberships.  it seemed very much a success to me.  however, my intended topic has more to do with a few people i met and how our brief conversation helped change my internal monologue.

there was a lovely couple chatting with a few of my friends.  on my way out i stopped to say hello and introduce myself.  we started having a conversation and soon i was given this bit of wisdom "sometimes illness is a way to help us recognize that we are going down the wrong path."  at first i resisted and tried to come up with an argument but during my attempt to discount this i found myself discovering how true it was and validating her point.  after reflecting upon the last few years i came to realize that almost all of my major decisions and changes have been because of illness. 

it all began one fateful day when i went into work only to be sent home immediately by my boss.  she thought that i didn't look well and clearly indicated that there was something wrong with my eyes.  i didn't feel sick but accepted the bonus day off and left for home.  the next day when i returned the first two people that i saw said that they thought my eyes were really strange and that i didn't look well.  i went to check in with my boss and she sent me home again and suggested i go into the clinic.  i took her advice and found out that i have a condition called hyperthyroid.

it is caused by some sort of autoimmune disorder and therefore stress of any kind irritates it and sends my health into a downward spiral.  unfortunately at the time i was working at a homeless shelter that provided services to women and children.  needless to say it was stressful more often than not.  on top of that i was working, on average, about 60 hours a week.  after struggling for a few months to regain my health while continuing to work there i conceded and put in my notice.

i did my best to resist what seemed to be inevitable.  i loved my job and was starting to feel successful and could see outcomes.  i had been making change and very exciting things could have happened had i been able to stay.  luckily i was able to find another position at a non-profit that was less intense but still had impact; unfortunately it was part-time and temporary.

at the end of last summer i was thrust back into the service industry after a nice little break.  at first i was able to maintain by working two part-time serving jobs; however, this quickly took its toll on my body and by the end of the year it was clear that i needed to reduce my hours.  subsequently, since january i've only been working between 20-30 hours a week.  luckily my lifestyle allows me to live quite cheaply.

unfortunately, my need to reduce my daily-activities not only impacted my employment.  i frequently find myself at home in bed instead of going to community events.  this is not a reflection of my intentions or interest but only of my inability to expend extra energy.  i sometimes feel guilty for not being able to do what i'd like to and even more so for backing out of things at the last minute, and (even though i know it is for the best) for saying no to things i'd really like to do but know i can't. 

at the end of the month it will be one year since i resigned and i'm not really in a better place physically and am in a much worse place financially (how is that even possible?!).  i continue to make sacrifices because i'm unable to do "normal" things. now that basically every part of my life has been dramatically impacted by my illness i have decided that it is time for another big change. which you can read about here.

now, back to the cute little couple i mentioned earlier and the statement about illness alerting you to change your path.   i am thankful that through trying to disprove her point i was ultimately able to understand.  it really helped me to view this in a different light.  with that said, i'm not sure that i'll ever be able to say that i'm glad that i'm sick, but i am glad that i have some sort of trigger that goes off letting me know that i need to reassess the situation and alter my path.  (it probably goes without saying, but i am also very grateful that without knowing it i was doing everything i needed to and even though where i'm at now was not where i thought i'd be, i'm excited about what the future holds and can't wait to see where it takes me.)

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