This post contains discussions of untimely death and suicide. Please stay safe and steer clear if these subjects may be triggering for you.
One of the interesting things about having chronic illness(es) is how your friendships change. In many unfortunate cases, people who were once your friends fade into the background. Sometimes it’s because they’re uncomfortable being around someone who is ill. Or maybe they don’t like the new version of this person they knew for so long. Or they could simply just not believe there’s anything wrong with this person because, like it or not, many chronic illnesses are invisible illnesses.
As a result of this, many individuals with chronic illness develop online friendships with others who are ill; people like themselves who understand exactly what they’re going through. Although not all of these friendships are with people who are ill. I have found new friends who are like-minded in faith and love of literature who I care for just as much.
But in the world of cyberspace, these friendships can result in heartache more often than you might think.
“Things we lost to the flame
Things we’ll never see again
All that we’ve amassed
Sits before us, shattered into ash…”
Things We Lost in the Fire (Bastille)
As Esther Smith said in her excellent book, When Chronic Pain and Illness Take Everything Away, “Grief is the process by which we actively release all that we feel, question, and remember at the feet of God and the people He has placed in our lives.”
At the end of the second chapter, she poses some questions that have me wrestling with my thoughts, emotions, and feelings towards God. Questioning God isn’t a bad thing. In fact, He encourages us to come to Him with our questions, fears, or doubts. If you’ve ever read Psalms, you know this to be true!
As part of my grief process, I am going to share my answers to the questions, as you all are the people God has placed in my life. I assume the intention of that is to find help through grief from a different perspective than God’s. Continue reading “Things We Lost in the Fire”
I’ve always been a difficult person to be friends with. And I’m not easy to love.
Although life didn’t start out that way. One day in pre-school, my mom was shocked to see me sitting at a table with all the little boys in the class crowding around me, the only girl at the table. If only I had such admiration ten years later!
In all seriousness, I think a lot of my friend-making difficulty stems from my social anxiety, which started baring its teeth around the age of nine. There were really a lot of people who didn’t like me for reasons explained in that post, and it scarred me for life. I still remember the torment and how it made me feel. I was always the smart one, not the pretty one, and brains didn’t earn you many friends. Middle school and high school were awful for obvious reasons, so I was thrilled to go to college over 400 miles away from home where I didn’t know a soul. Friendships were much easier to maintain there because everyone was starting on a clean slate.
But it’s now been almost seven years since I graduated from pharmacy school. I’m almost seven years into my career. But for the past ten months, I’ve been on medical leave in order to have and recover from three surgeries in a four-month period: hernia repair, brain tumor removal, and aneurysm stenting. However, just as I was about to go back to work, POTS happened, likely as a result of all those surgeries. And having POTS sucks incredibly. It’s not something I would wish on my worst enemy.
I haven’t done one of these in awhile. My last one was in December, I believe. Even in two short months, my life has changed a great deal. Not for the better, unfortunately. And since I’m having some painsomnia along with my general refusal to sleep at night for the most part anymore, I guess I may as well talk about it to some more sympathetic ears than I’ve been getting the past few days.
I lost my job last week. I understand why, but that doesn’t make it any easier to bear. My FMLA ran out last June, after which point my job was unprotected; they could have gotten rid of me then. Instead, they gave me as much time as they could for me to get well enough to return to work, which I failed to do twice, once in October, and again in January, when I was diagnosed with POTS. (Here’s a bit of what a day in my life looks like now thanks to POTS, except I pretty much stay in bed now.)
But anyway, now it’s prime recruiting season at the hospital and I’m not naive enough to think they would keep me any longer. They’d rather replace me with a new residency graduate who has some clinical knowledge, but has absolutely no idea how to actually be a pharmacist.
Although I don’t feel quite as bad sometimes when I think about what a literal revolving door my specific tiny department within an enormous department is. And it is a tiny department, with something like a dozen pharmacists total for a 24/7 operation. But since 2010, the year I started working there, I’m 99% certain, if my list is correct, that I am the 20th pharmacist to leave. In seven years.
Yet my emotions are still very raw. I keep crying periodically. Ok fine, I cry a lot. I want to scream and throw things and then go to bed and never wake up. I’m back in what I call my depression hole; I have periods where I just won’t talk and will only communicate via head movements or shrugs because I feel if I open my mouth to speak, I’ll fall apart. I took the picture on the right immediately after I found out so I’ll always remember how much it hurt.
So now the big question is, what do I do with myself now? Honestly, if I ever get well, I don’t know that I have the intention of reapplying in the future or to ever practice pharmacy again. What a waste of six years of education. I was never a good pharmacist in my opinion anyway.
But David and I had a heart to heart Friday night between us and God. We came to the conclusion that I’m basically going to start my life all over again. I’ve been through so much in the past year (or even really the past four years starting with my celiac disease diagnosis, then the endometriosis…) Between all my diagnoses, my surgeries, trying to get better on a deadline when my body wasn’t ready, being stressed out by that, getting worse, and so on, it’s finally time to take my foot off the accelerator. I’m setting intentional goals that I (hope) I am capable of and can work towards.
Not thinking about work or a return date or ever going back there ever again.
Do my cardiac rehab to the best of my ability in an effort to improve my POTS, and therefore my quality of life.
Do things I want to do that will make me happy.
Studying the Word
Listening to music
Take baby steps towards normalizing my life.
David will encourage me and I will encourage him.
Focus a bit on getting the house cleaned up.
So, really, living my life the way I want to, with as little stress as possible to maybe help promote faster healing. No deadlines.
A new me.
I started life over again in 2004 when I started pharmacy school, leaving behind my old life of dance and musical theater.
I started life over again in 2010 when I graduated from pharmacy school, got married, moved, passed my boards, and started my career.
And I’m starting my life over again in 2017 when my health is in shambles and my pharmacy career is over.
We’ll see where the road takes me. But after all I’ve been through, I can only hope it’ll be to a happier place.
I’ve feared for the past year since I went on medical leave (on June 10, 2016) that this day would come. That my recovery wouldn’t happen fast enough for the almighty powers that be and that my position would be posted, Continue reading “An Existence I Can No Longer Have”
I feel down. I can’t stand this brain fog. It’s probably the most frustrating thing I’ve ever had to deal with, and one of the worst parts of dysautonomia/POTS. I’m used to having a sharp, functioning mind that could multi-task. Now I’ll think of something, get out of bed, and then not be able to remember why I got out of bed. I can’t really have thoughtful conversation, even when I’m talking to David. I’ll be talking and then stop mid-sentence. After about 15 seconds, David will ask, “Is your brain fogging?” And I just nod, sad and quiet. Additionally, I can’t write very well anymore, which is why I haven’t posted any original material in awhile.