Are you still on disability? Are you back to work yet? – I get this question so many times during a week it makes my head spin.
No. I’m not back to my IT consulting job.
But I do have a job.
An extremely important job.
Probably the most important job I could ever have.
My full-time job is getting my body healthy so I can fully participate in life. I may not technically go to an office everyday, but my job is a 24/7 labor intensive position. If I screw up performing my duties I personally pay the consequences.
My main job functions include: carrying out my daily rituals, ensuring that I feed myself nutritious secondary food, and paying special attention to my primary food which includes (but not limited to) my relationship with myself, with my family and friends, loving and creative work, staying active and carrying out my life’s purpose.
If you’ve read the book ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ you’ll recognize the phrase ‘sleep kills cancer’. Hazel, one of the main characters, says this a lot throughout the book and it was definitely a statement that resonated with me. Thank goodness I am lucky enough to say I do not have cancer, but the same principle applies to autoimmune patients. When you’re resting, your body isn’t expelling excess energy, therefore it can focus on its own, internal battle.
Having the good fortune of receiving disability benefits, my days are based on how I feel when I wake up. This gives me the ability to sleep as much as I need to (pending my doctor appointments!). Somedays I wake up and I can get out of bed with no problems. Other days it can take me hours to get my body moving. Majority of days, it takes me about an hour.
My health coach helped me design daily rituals to structure my day. My morning ritual helps getting my body moving. I take my meds every morning at 9:30am so I always have my alarm going off at that time. Sometimes when it goes off I wake up, take my meds and can stay awake. Other times I wake up, take the meds and fall back asleep. I feel fortunate enough to not have to get up and be somewhere early in the morning. I really don’t think my body would like that.
I have a water bottle next to my bed which I try to drink when I first wake up. My goal is to drink the entire thing before I get up, but sometimes my stomach can’t handle 16 oz of water.
Then I set my intentions for the day. Currently I’m working through Gabrielle Berstein’s ‘May Cause Miracles’ book, but before that I would get out my journal and reflect. Taking a minute to take stock in your day can help you tune into your body and how your feeling. This is extremely important because learning to read your body is one of the fundamental skills you need to excel at my job.
One of the things I’ve learned the most is that everyday can truly look different. I take cues from how I’m feeling, what I’m feeling and my energy levels. If I don’t feel well, I take a look at what I consumed and did the previous day and see if I can attribute it to anything specific. (ie. “Ohhh I did eat a banana yesterday, no wonder I have this headache.”) Depending on these factors, I can decide the role I’ll play for the rest of the day. Will I be able to go out and run the errands that I need, get to all my appointments by myself, get upstairs to make something to eat or will I need to take it easy, maybe catch up on some sleep or head to the chiropractor?
My activity levels vary SO much. On bad days I won’t move an inch. I’ll lay in bed and not want to move even to go to the bathroom. Somedays the 15 steps up to my kitchen seem like Mount Everest. But then other days I can get up with no problem, go to the store and walk around without even needing the wheelchair or maybe even go meet up with friends! One of my main job assignments is trying to figure out what factors in my life drive my good and bad days. Luckily, my boss isn’t hounding me for the findings yet, because it’s taking me a lonnnng time to figure out. I started an in-depth project back in the fall to identify these factors, but I still have a ways to go. This is where exercising patience comes in. When I first started my job I identified this act as one of my developmental areas. Luckily over the past 2 years I’ve had the opportunity to develop it immensely and am pretty good at it now. I think my mindfulness and meditation practice help a lot with it.
So really the rest of my day is based on how my morning ritual goes. If it’s a good day I can focus on the things I love, that bring me pleasure and help bring positivity to my life. These can include making cards, working on my blog, working on my yoga practice, spending time with people I love, and experimenting with new recipes. One of the blessings this job has brought me is the realization of my life’s purpose. I truly believe this whole experience was given to me to help me realize that I’m supposed to help other autoimmune patients. Nothing like on the job training 😉
If I’m feeling up to it, I also can participate in other freelance jobs that I have started to participate in. I’ve been working to build my blog and my brand so that I can go out and help others, I’ve been working on an ad hoc basis with my Dad doing some IT work, I’ve helped others build websites and I even started an Online Schooling program to become a certified holistic health coach. I may not get paid for the freelance jobs I do in my spare time, but it definitely keeps my mind sharp and allows me to work at my body’s pace.
The beauty of my job is that my boss allows me to be completely flexible. If I want to work in my pjs I can! If I want to work from my bed I can! If I can’t do anything on a particular day, because my body is so fatigued-that-all-of-my-bones-hurt, it isn’t held against me.
So, no, I’m not back to my old job.
I’m still on long-term disability.
Not sure I’ll ever go back to my old job. (I believe it’s too taxing to my body and may have landed me in this situation in the first place. Who knows?)
But I do have a job.
And to me, it’s so much more important than any career I could be building.
The rest of my life depends on it!
Wishing You A Pain Free Day!