This post wasn’t the plan. I'm working on other posts about navigating the medical system and testing, but I fell down the rabbit hole again...
Four. Four times I have had to take a leave of absence from work over the last three years. Last week I had to take another leave of absence from work, leave for the rest of the year. This is the longest leave I have ever had to take (not counting the year I didn’t work). A few years ago, I used to never call in sick to work. Despite working hard to keep up my energy and stamina this summer, I only made it through a week and a half this Fall semester before I started to hit The Point of No Return—the dreaded long period of being bed-ridden after having to push myself past my limits.
The semester didn’t start well. My teaching schedule included 9 hour days with driving and teaching hours in a row without a break. Something has changed. This time last year, I had almost this exact same schedule. I struggled, but I could do it. The difference now is shocking to me. I decided to no longer stand or walk while teaching (something I should’ve been doing last year). So I would sit and try to teach, but it wasn’t enough. I could barely move and the disabling, new symptoms I have been experiencing this last year—losing my mobility, intense weakness, difficulty breathing, etc—were getting worse. Driving has gotten much more difficult and a little scary, which makes commuting complicated.
I had been mentally preparing for having to take a leave of absence all summer. After the sheer brutality of last semester (including hitting The Point of No Return twice during it), I knew it was a definite possibility. I just didn’t expect to only make it a week and a half.
My health has gone downhill this year, and I'm in disbelief with how much less I am able to do compared to just a year ago. But I am learning how to accept this and try to work around it. I feel incredibly guilty about having to go on leave but realistically I didn’t have any other choice. I’m thankful for how supportive my work has been and that I can have this time to focus on my health.
So now I am trying to speed along the endless appointments and tests I have been doing this year. I believe they are getting closer, and I am currently being tested for Myasthenia Gravis, but nothing is for sure. I am trying to rest. I made myself a schedule to work on other projects like writing, painting, music, cooking (while sitting of course), hobbies and passions I haven’t had any energy for the last few years. But I already miss work. I am a workaholic to the core. I told my husband I’d even take a stack of essays right now and he said, lovingly, “you have a problem.” Yea, probably.
I’m still fighting. I’m still pushing forward. Despite these struggles, I have a good life and I’m working on being well enough to enjoy it more. Adversity, ain't no thing. As Maya Angelou said, "Still, I rise."