If anyone ever says to you that you will never do anything like you once did because of a diagnosis, do yourself a favor as ask “why not?”
I cannot say that I ever asked why not, and I did let what everyone else said affect my confidence in rehabilitation, treatment options, and certainly matters of career. As a woman in her early 30’s who was essentially just getting going, it is hard to deny the toll the “experts’ advice” took on my confidence in doing anything resembling normal.
Little by little in the last 10 years, I have been able to defy almost all of the naysayers who fed me plate after plate of worst-case scenarios. I have defied them by going about things in different ways and finding creative solutions to work with my symptoms.
The first thing I did to defy them was to live independently again with my two dogs. The experts had me in an assisted living facility from the nursing home with a tiny dog. The second thing I did was learned to walk in a pool until I could stand on land. This was my idea, not an expert’s. I also worked my way back into part-time jobs that in some way related to my first career before illness.
There was still this small voice in my head cautioning about work with a chronic, progressive illness. In the early years, my symptoms worsened the more I did, so there were many “what if’s” within that voice. At the same time, I have known for a several years that when I needed to do something, I could somehow figure out a way to do it.
Still, I have somewhat cautiously approached working for several years. With all the pump drama and surgeries, I am glad I did so, but that drama certainly didn’t help my confidence in working more confidently.
Then, I went to a training in California, and like magic, returned more confident than I recall feeling in more than a decade about both my professional skill sets, and my ability to manage my chronic illness well enough to move forward with less caution. I had not expected such a relatively drastic shift in the belief in my ability.
As I continue to reflect on the trip, I keep finding that it was a very magical experience in so many different ways.
My view of work is more about service, so I have spent a few years being cautious, but also frustrated because I also knew I had more to offer than what I was able to give. I have spent a year since the last surgery, slowly working my body up to an everyday schedule to see how I would adjust.
It was gradual, somewhat systematically planned, and before a year was up, I saw that I could do every day. While there are some costs, the payoff is that there are more opportunities to be of service.
I have very little doubt (to say none would be a bit of a fib) that I can, and will, take this shot of confidence with me into 2015. I just may need to retire the big girl panties for now, in fact. It is certainly a great way to close out 2014!