Carnival of Bloggers posted the following article as their Blogger Post #161 in November 2014, “Creating a World of My Own” by Melissa Cook.
Papers stacked high, email flags a mile long, a budget to reconstruct on my desk, a teacher in for an evaluation, and it was already 2:30 pm – I would be home late again tonight. Double-timing as I navigated the halls of the school touching base with each of the teachers to see if they needed anything – support, supplies, a travel request. On to instruct an after school teacher inservice and then I would hightail it to a conference call on a new state report. I loved my job. My career as a school district administrator was, simply put, awesome. Little did I know my driven world would abruptly skid to a crawl, robbing me of my oomph and leaving me alone with no more tasks to complete than to peel myself out of bed, slip on clothes and cook dinner – tasks proving difficult at best on some days. Multiple sclerosis had taken an ugly turn for me for a period in my life.
Initially I was too ill to be aware of my devastating launch into isolation. Loneliness was a few months off. Fearing the worst was about to befall me, I planned my final arrangements and put my affairs in order. Then I waited. Nothing. Waited some more. The shock of being alone hit me like a ton of bricks. Overload at the office made it difficult to sustain meaningful relationships in the after-hours clearly evident at this point in my life. I was alone now during the day; my life would never be the same.
A few years later, I would write a blog post called, “Disability is Not a Bundle of Sick Days” with the conclusion, “It is as if I have spent the past 31 months out on sick days. Disability isn’t a sick day, it is life. It is about time I realized it and start living again.” (www.MSsymptoms.me, November 27, 2013) I hid in my home for two and a half years. I was sick. I worried the people of my small town would question why I wasn’t working if I could mosey into the post office or store. Then one day I ventured out with a camera in hand to photograph the fall colors and was welcomed with open arms by my neighbors and friends whom had wondered what happened to me.
Creating a world of my own came from the freedom gained in throwing out the “sick day” mentality. Multiple sclerosis is a day-by-day illness meaning there are times I feel normal and can do things I used to. The first order of business was making new friends. Second, purpose was reintroduced into my life when I began blogging about my MS story and the latest research on www.MSsymptoms.me. Third, my desire to help others led me to become a first responder. People with disabilities can be assets to the EMS. Then, I became a board member for the local domestic violence and rape crisis center, putting my administrative training and education to use. Now I am polishing up a children’s story I have had on my mind for years and have a collection of short stories on living in Alaska’s bush country to revise.
Multiple sclerosis still hangs around my doorstep making an appearance periodically. However, I balance my new world in a way I never could with the demands of being employed. Resting as I need and remembering “all things in moderation” allows me to live an awe-inspiring life without the career I once loved.
The old saying, “When one door closes, another one opens” has been so true for me. My career goal of becoming a superintendent of schools with a Ph.D. was not realized. However, my dream of writing is taking shape. In addition, I find time to play with my grandchildren, quilt, bead, take photographs, and I want to learn how to paint with watercolors. Creating my own world becomes more exciting by the month. Yes, I still spend most of my days alone but I am not lonely; I am happy again. And, at the end of the day my best friend comes home to spend the evenings and weekends with me. I love you, Elgin! Thank-you for keeping me going.