My mid-life breakthrough

Today I hope I find the energy to do everything I need to get done.  There is so much. Sometimes it is hell having autoimmune issues. And, while I am finally learning and understanding my body and its needs more than ever before, I am unable to make all the signs and symptoms disappear. That frustrates me.

Last summer I started noticing new symptoms, well not really new but now more consistent that ever before. I've always had issues with my stomach, I just put them all off as stress - a life of stress but it was getting to the point I was scared there was something else going on. I had a hard time keeping food in me, especially when my co-workers and I would grab a bite to eat.  I didn't know what was going on.  I'd eat and within 20 minutes I had to run, quite literally run, to a bathroom.

My allergies were out of control, I was constantly tired and just sick. My joints were constantly red and inflamed. I was walking around puffy but feeling malnourished. It was getting harder and harder to get through my very long work days. My life turned into a struggle just to walk being awake.

I can remember one day at the office, standing outside and speaking to a friend- one of my writers, Anna. I told her I was scared- scared that if I didn't do something soon it wasn't going to be pretty. I just didn't know what that something was. Remember, I don't do doctors. Everyone who knew was trying to convince me to get to a doctor.

During my time alone I would find myself asking God just to let me live long enough to be with my sons, once again. I didn't want my last days to be spent away from them. I knew they would not be able to handle that.

Yeah, I was in a pathetic place. Then this winter it happened. I was forced to go to a doctor. My damn dogs must have figured out the way to get me there - they spilled their water dish on my kitchen floor and I went skating across it, landing full force on my hip.

I can remember the looks on their faces when I sat on that cold examining table. Every joint in my body was screaming with inflammation. I looked miserable, and I knew it. Stubborn me told them to just focus on my aching hip-I didn't have time for anything else.  It was like asking them to put air in a tire of a car on fire.

When I got home, all those memories of being a sick kid came flooding back. All the things the doctors suggested 35 years ago - all the darts that were thrown at a map, trying to figure "me" out. I sat on my bed looking at the pain pills prescribed for me, including the steroids. I knew they would help me get through the pain but I also knew I wouldn't be able to function like I needed to - I had a job I needed to focus on, I had bills that needed to be paid.  I had a life to stumble through.

There was some swearing, actually a lot it but it allowed me to get my frustrations out long enough to focus on those memories and my surgeon telling me that he thought I should not eat flour products. He always felt my issues as a kid were autoimmune related just he wasn't sure which lovely disease I had. So, I decided it was finally time to take his heeding and eliminate gluten from my life.

The results have been amazing. Food has been staying in me long enough to provide nourishment. My joints have calmed down and my energy is somewhat back. Weight is melting off me and I am eating more than ever before.  For someone who has been overweight since being a kid, that is a miracle. It is not easy to do and I hate it. I crave a hard warm crusty roll like no one's business. Eating eggs and bacon without toast is torture. Don't even get me talking about eating a salad without bread to dip in salad dressing - that, quite frankly, pisses me off. If I do purchase gluten-free bread I have to convince myself that spending three times the amount I used to for a roll is worth pretending it doesn't taste like shit. This is not a fad adventure I am on, it is a staying alive nightmare.

It is what it is.

In a twisted way, I am thankful for even this experience. It is okay for me to make significant changes in my everyday world, even ones I know are uncomfortable and dreaded. This month I've made quite a few - and they are risks I know must be taken.

I am tired of working so hard for peanuts barely able to cover my day to day existence. Just enough to keep me living in a home with too many PTSD triggers and away from those boys of mine -and all while juggling debt. I am tired of being counted on and expected to keep alive a newspaper where I cannot even get the powers that be to provide computers that run properly nor fix the ones we have, so we don't have to spend longer than necessary hours working through our frustrations. I waited weeks for ink and pens to get approved and ordered. Don't even get me talking about a $55 phone we needed and the weeks I waited last summer because IT was asked to approve it. Seriously?

I am tired of working for a salary that when you figure in the hours I put in equate to me working for under minimum wage after almost 13 years with the company.  Factory workers make more than me and they get benefits. As the only full-time person, I am a writer, a graphic artist, I paginate, I sell ads, I juggle stringers and part-time employees, I update the website, and I am the social media marketer.

I get screamed at by business owners who want only articles that make our area "look good" - to hell with the actual news. Funny how the ones who scream the loudest won't and haven't bought an ad in at least a decade.

I've had threats from criminals and their family and friends when their crimes do hit our pages.  Oh, and speaking about the actual news...the newest suggestion was to get volunteer writers. VOLUNTEER? 

And then there are a handful of twisted minds out there who are actually envious of my position and are constantly trying to take their hits at me.

Yes, I was good at what I did. I am competitive. I love challenges. And I loved telling the stories of our community. I was able to keep my sons close to me as I did work and while they were growing up. That was the payoff for me all those years I made less than I even make now as the editor. A position that was dropped in my lap after a tragedy - a tragedy that left a close friend without a job while battling cancer. She lost more than a job - she lost quite a bit of money too - and, that is a story that is about to break.  A story a few of us held close and kept a secret for too long now - so long, that I can't keep carrying someone else's shame. It is eating me alive and has been for over two years...and probably has had part in making me sicker than I should be.

So, I resigned. I decided that I cannot keep going on like this -it was killing me, slowly.  And what happens after I resign? I hear how valuable of an employee I am ...."No shit, Sherlock."

A part of me wonders if I have lost my mind to resign when now I will not have a regular paycheck to count on to cover my day to day existence. I do have some side jobs, one is working public relations for a known figure in our community. I did have another job lined up, but after extending my resignation long enough to give corporate time to figure out how and what they will do now to replace me or if they're closing the doors, I came to the realization that the new job was for someone who values employees about the same from the place I was exiting.

So, I am about to be fully, self-employed.

That chapter of my life is about to begin. It begins with some new adventures, including (hopefully) selling this house and moving down by my boys in Memphis.

A new chapter in a new book of the series of my life.



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