Sunday, 28 December 2014

My Story: Part 6

In January 2008 my Dr told me that I'd never work full time again. That was a shock and very difficult to accept. After I'd gone back to work in September we'd planned for me to be working full time by the end of 2007. When that didn't happen the Dr said we'd just see how I went. Then in January he told me that I'd never work full time again and that if I could work 4 full days he'd be happy. After the joy finding out that I was in remission this news was a real blow.

Once I came to the understanding that I was going to be dealing with this for a while, work and my rehab provider started talking to me about applying for a partial pension through my super fund.

I hadn't been having any troubles with work, my bosses and the HR people were amazing and took really good care of me, but they decided to hire a Vocational Rehabilitation Provider to help me out. His name was Darrin and he was amazing. He made my life so much easier and I will be eternally grateful for the help that he gave me. He organised everything to do with work, so if I needed something I just asked Darrin and he arranged it. Like I said, I hadn't been having any problems, but having to deal with one person is much easier than having to deal with several people. Plus, having Darrin meant that I didn't have to worry about anything, cause that was his job. I knew that if I had a problem he'd sort it out for me. He came to the Dr with me and after speaking to the Dr he arranged for me to work from home 1 day per week. I was reluctant to do that because I liked the human contact, but it meant that I could work more hours which was good.

With Darrin's assistance I applied for the partial pension in March. I hadn't wanted to, as it felt like admitting defeat, but my leave was quickly running out, and I need the money. Plus, I needed to take the pressure of myself to try and increase my hours. I didn't like having to apply for the pension, but as I had no choice, I did.

All up it took about 3 months for the partial pension to come through, but I am so grateful that this was available to me. It made life a lot easier for us. The day it came through was a good day and a bad day. I was relieved that I didn't have to worry about money, but was upset at the thought that this was going to be an ongoing thing. To be eligible for the partial pension my condition had to be permanent and I didn't like having to admit that to myself.

In January, for 1 day per week I started catching the train to work. It was tiring having to stand up on the train and then walk to work, some mornings it took me ages to get to work because I had to stop and rest until the pain went away, but being able to catch the train made me feel like I was making progress.

We'd bought a house and moved in April 2007. I'd been sick at the time, so hadn't been able to do all the unpacking. I'd done the main living areas, but I had a room stacked full of boxes that needed to be unpacked and I just hadn't been able to do it. In January I decided that I'd tackle it. I started out doing 5 minutes per day, and slowly worked up to 15 minutes per day. Eventually I could do 15 minutes twice a day. It took me until August, but I finally got all the boxes unpacked and was so pleased with myself once it was done.

The rest of 2008 was pretty uneventful. I had a few scares, but no flare ups, and I remained in remission. I got lots of colds due to my weakened immune system, but thankfully I had a magic potion from my naturopath, so that kept most of the colds under control. We had a few scares where we thought I was having a flare up, they turned out to be false alarms. I think the pain was triggered by exercise, both false alarms were just after I'd exercised for a few days.

My gastro Dr told me that I only needed to see him once a year unless I had more than 2 flare ups and he was happy with my progress.

The naturopath said that I could start taking silica gel, and as soon as I started taking that my hair started to grow back thicker and stronger. I'd lost about 1/2 of the volume of my hair, if that makes sense. What I mean is that I had about half as much hair as I used to, but once I started taking the silica gel my hair stopped falling out. Through taking the fish oil my skin improved heaps.

I slowly began increasing my hours at work, and by the end of the year was working 18 hours per week over 3 days. I'd stopped working from home and was working the whole time in the office. I gave up my parking space under the building and caught the train to work every day.

I stopped focusing on illness and started focusing on wellness. I stopped reading about Crohn's on the internet and instead of thinking about what I couldn't do, I focused on what I could do. I still spoke openly to anyone who asked about my illness, but it was no longer the main point of conversation. It felt so nice not to be talking about illness all the time.

I'd like to say that Tiger dealt with my illness well, but he didn't. He hated it, and that made me feel bad about it too, even though I knew it wasn't my fault. At times he acted like he thought I'd got sick on purpose. He was angry and resentful. Him not dealing with it made things a lot more difficult for me at a time when I really needed his love and support.

Every now and again I'd push myself, just to see what would happen. Tiger wasn't impressed when I did this, so I'd time it for when he wasn't there to stop me. He'd get worried about me, so I wouldn't tell him what I was up to. I was always careful. For example, I'd started going for slow, gentle walks, but I went with Tiger and we didn't go far. I decided that I wanted to walk to the post office, which was 3km's away. I knew Tiger wouldn't agree to it (I'd mentioned it a few times and he'd said a very strong no), so I waited till he was out at martial arts, took my phone and wandered on down there. I knew I wouldn't be able to walk home cause I'd be too tired, and I figured that it'd take me about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to walk there, so I waited till 1/2 hour before he was due to get home before I left. Unfortunately, the day I chose to do this, he was held up, so didn't get home when I expected him to.

I made it to the post office and was totally exhausted, so I sat down and rested for a while. Then I decided that I'd try to walk home. I'd been walking (actually, it was more like trudging at this stage) for about 10 minutes, when Tiger rang, frantic because I wasn't at home. He panicked when he heard the exhaustion in my voice and wasn't at all impressed when I told him I'd gone for a walk and even less impressed when I told him how far I walked. He came and picked me up and spent a lot of time telling me off for being stupid. But I felt triumphant, I was so proud of myself. I'd achieved my goal and I was happy.

I checked with the Dr at my next visit and he said that it was okay to push myself like that every now and again as long as I didn't do it too often. Once a month or less was okay, but no more than that.

Finally I was starting to feel like I was getting back to my old self, the person I used to be before I got ill.

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