[*I’ve done my very best to shorten this post by inserting links that will further explain and illustrate a specific sentence and/or phrase. Yanno, if you are interested in reading more on that particular subject. Everything that is highlighted and/or italicized in this blog post are links to more relevant information about me and photos of me that pertain to my medical conditions*]
Okay boys and girls. You’re probably going to want to grab yourselves a sandwich, and possibly an alcoholic beverage, because I have a lot to say. Or, you could just move along to another blog. Because if you are looking for funny? You are not going to find any here.
At least, not today.
For those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time, you are quite familiar with my medical issues. However, some of you fine people are new readers of this blog. And, since I want everyone to fully understand what I am talking about, we have to take a trip down memory lane and delve into some ancient history.
It’s not very often I write about my ‘Annoying Medical Conditions’ any more. For one thing, it’s too depressing, and I still haven’t mastered a way to make my ‘Annoying Medical Conditions’ truly funny. Unless you find this amusing.
Anyway, I think I do a pretty decent job of acting like I am not sick at all. At least on the internet. Yes?
As some of you know, I had a full-fledged justifiable total nervous breakdown back in November of 2008. But I am not really sure if I ever told you about the specifics surrounding my justifiable total nervous breakdown?
I suppose things changed drastically in my life back in 2006 because that is when I first started to get sick.
[All. The. Time.]
And, no one could figure out what was wrong with me.
From 2006 -2007 I was forever dressed in a paper gown and I went on countless doctors visits, including several specialists. I spent an entire year living on Tums, Gas-X, Maaloxx and Benadryl and my weight dropped to under 90 pounds. I had to undergo a series of highly embarrassing yet necessary tests. All the while writhing in pain on my cold tiled bathroom floors and trying to ‘Work From Home‘.
Living and feeling like that caused me to miss a lot of work as a direct result of my ‘Annoying Medical Conditions’ that no one could figure out. And that became problematic.
You see, I used to be gainfully employed. I worked in Commercial Insurance industry in the Marketing Department for six years. And quite frankly, I was fucking fabulous at my job. I handled these kinds of tasks like a rock star singing center stage, or an NBA baller at the top of his game. And I used to have a fabulous condominium that was all mine. And I loved that house. I loved that place more than anywhere else I had ever lived since I was 13 years old. And everything was seemingly alright in my world.
That is, until I fell ill.
Once my doctors finally figured out that I was suffering from Crohn’s Disease, Celiac’s Disease, A Hiatal Hernia, and I had two Ulcers, things only got worse. They put me on all kinds of different medications that had all kinds of crazy side effects that also made me sick.
While in the midst of drowning in the abyss, I wrote a post about my ‘Annoying Medical Conditions’ in an effort to find some peace for myself. But, that didn’t stop me from getting sicker.
When I was not trapped in the bathroom for hours at a time conjuring up ways to market ‘Pocket Fabreeze For Crohn’s Disease’, I was searching for any kind food to eat that would not cause a Fatal Reaction.
In addition to Crohn’s Disease, Celiac’s Disease, A Hiatal Hernia, and Two Ulcers, I also have SEVERE Food Allergies. The kind of Food Allergies that may actually kill me. And no, I am not being melodramatic. [At least not now.]
If I eat the wrong food, I can [and will] go into Anaphylactic Shock and die. My most recent tests showed that I am allergic to everything on this list.
It has taken me years to come to terms with the fact that my ‘Quality Of Life’ has been hijacked by all of these ‘Annoying Medical Conditions’ but, I’m still not completely OKAY with it. Some days are good days and I can easily cope with the fact that I cannot enjoy or eat the same food as most of you can. But some days, are bad days wherein I am filled with anger and resentment.
Wait. Where was I?
Oh yeah, I had a fabulous job and a fabulous condo. And then I got sick. A Lot.
Now, being sick all the time, is not exactly ‘A Quality’ employers are looking for. And, employers only give a certain amount of paid time off. Needless to say, my ‘Annoying Medical Conditions’ created an issue for me. I had to call out of work – all the time, for several reasons.
1. I was suffering from a Crohn’s Attack:
Which meant I needed to be within close proximity to a bathroom – at all times [for many hours in a row.] And I need to be near a bathroom that provides certain luxuries such as: Baby Wipes, Tucks Medicated Pads, Fabreeze Air Freshener, Vaseline, and of course, Privacy. Because there is nothing MORE embarrassing then having to use a Public Restroom while in the midst of a Crohn’s Attack. I would never want to subject an unsuspecting person [or former fellow co-worker] to that kind of situation.
2. I was suffering from an Allergic Reaction:
And that means: I break out into hives all over my stomach and back. My eyes swell shut, my lips blow up like a bad collagen job, and, my nasal passages close. I can only breathe through my mouth, which becomes extremely itchy, and, I turn a bright shade red. My ears catch on fire and my tongue fills up my entire mouth. My hands inflate to the point where it looks like I am wearing baseball gloves. It feels like a million hot itchy needles stabbing every inch of my flesh. I want to rip off my skin. The only way to stop those symptoms? I have to ingest the same amount of Benadryl as a drug mule ingests heroin balloons. And then I would have to inject myself in my upper thigh with the dreaded Epi-Pen. And if you combine an Epi-Pen with Benadryl you will have the same Metabolic Response to a person who had been smothered with Chloroform by a serial killer while trying to abduct their prey.
Oh, and I always fall victim to Allergic Reactions because my list is ever so extensive. And, when you are allergic to things like CORN [if you’ve ever read a label on a package you will know that corn, and all products derived of corn, (like corn syrup and corn starch) are IN almost 99% of what we as humans digest] you too, would find yourself having endless Allergic Reactions.
Because my Food Allergies and Crohn’s Disease have damaged my immune system [to the point where I am required to get weekly vitamin shots] if I wasn’t sick from those ‘Annoying Medical Conditions’, I was sick with other illnesses: Strep, Bronchitis, Pneumonia, Mononucleosis. And once, I even had The German Measles.
Obviously because I was calling out of work all the time, because I was always sick, I quickly used up all of my paid days. Thus, I fell behind in paying my bills. Far behind. The ratio of calling out, verses paid sick days, outweighed each other. Inevitably, I accumulated a large amount of debit, in a little amount of time.
My team of doctors determined the STRESS of having to call out of work, function as a single mother, falling behind in my bills, and failing at my job, only aggravated my ‘Annoying Medical Conditions.’
I was stuck on a never-ending cycle. A cycle that went like this:
I would get sick. I would have to call out of work. I would stress about missing work and falling behind on bills. That irritated my condition. I would get sicker. I would have to call out of work. I would stress about missing work and falling behind on bills. I couldn’t even do any fun things in my regular life. I would get sick. I would have to call out of work. I would stress about missing work and falling behind on bills. That irritated my condition. I would get sicker.
And round and round I went.
[Seriously. When I look back on the archives of this blog, I honestly don’t know how I kept that going for as long as I did. I remember spending endless days shrouded in crippling guilt just knowing my family, my friends, and even my employers, could simply not count on me to be reliable. I used to be the girl that could do anything. And I took a great deal of pride in the fact that I had been so successfully independent since the tender age of 18 years old. But that was all about to come to a painful end.]
Anyway, after months of trying to get through that, the only logical solution was to GIVE UP my precious condo. And move back home. with ‘The Parents’. Whom I had NOT lived with, since I was thirteen years old.
Now that was a decision: I REALLY WRESTLED WITH.
But in January of 2008, I had no other choice. Thus I was forced to surrender my independence I so dearly treasured. Of course now I realize that moving back home with The Parents was [and still is] the best thing for both my son and I.
But…I still kept getting sick.
Eventually, since my employers could no longer count on me to be efficient, rather than let me go, they demoted me.
And that made me feel like the outsider all over again.
And then they demoted me again.
And then I snapped.
I was losing control over everything that was happening in my life and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to stop it. I grew intensely angry to the point of no return. I was incredibly livid over the fact that my ‘Annoying Medical Conditions’ left me completely POWERLESS over what was happening to my body physically and there was nothing I could do to FIX the situation nor was I in a position change the direction my life was headed.
I felt as if everything I had worked for was all for nothing. I was back home with my parents, and I was back in the very same job position I had six years prior to falling ill. And that was simply devastating.
I spiraled in to such a depression and I started having serious panic attacks. I found myself waking up in the middle of the night screaming. I found myself waking up with fist fulls of my own hair wrapped around my fingers from ripping it out while I slept at night. I was beyond inconsolable.
And then one day, in September 2008, I had a nervous breakdown.
At my desk.
In the middle of my office.
In front of everyone.
I desperately needed help from a professional. I thought maybe if I could pull myself together enough emotionally I would be able to regain some level of control over my other ‘Annoying Medical Conditions’. So, left my office and I took a leave of absence on Temporary Disability.
I entered an Intensive Outpatient Therapy program. I attended those classes three days a week, for three hours a day, for three months. But that did not work out too well for me. By November 2008, Medicated Meleah was practically suicidal. And I was down right miserable. Moreover, I made everyone around me miserable.
What made it worse?
Constantly feeling defeated and remorseful for NOT being able to control my emotions, my reactions, my life. And I couldn’t even find pleasure or gratitude in even the simplest of things.
By the very end of December of 2008, I switched to a private therapist and I was finally starting to come out of the funk. I thought I was beginning to come out of my haze.
From January of 2009 – April of 2009, I slowly adjusted to the jobless life at home. During those months, as if by sheer miracle, I noticed that I wasn’t sick ALL THE TIME. Sure, I had a minor cold here and there like a normal person, but never once did I feel like I was on my deathbed. I still had Allergic Reactions and I’ve had about two Crohn’s Attacks, since April, but things are not as bad as they were when I was working.
Most of my stomach issues seemed to settle down, and that is exactly when my Temporary Disability benefits expired. I had only been mildly stable for a few months and my doctors did not think I was ready to go back to work again. In fact all of my doctors refused sign any release forms to allow me to search for employment. According to my medical team of doctors, the ONLY reason I have NOT been getting sick ALL THE TIME is because I am NOT working.
And that’s when I started to panic again.
How was I supposed to live?
In the state of New Jersey, unless you are able to work a full time job, you are ineligible to collect unemployment benefits. Therefore, I had absolutely no income.
Of course that made me feel like the world’s biggest burden to my family. Once again, they were being forced to pick up my expenses, and financially help take care of my son. My mother and father have repeatedly reassured me that I am not a useless human being and all they want is for me to remain healthy. But, there are those days when I feel like a complete failure.
After a lengthy discussion, everyone [family members and a handful of professionals] felt that it is in my best interest medically speaking, to file for Social Security Long Term and Permanent Disability Benefits. So I did, back in May 2008.
Little did I know there was a 3-6 month waiting period to get ‘approved’ for these kinds of benefits. It doesn’t matter that I have a pocket full of doctors signing all kinds of paper work. I still had to wait.
I followed the filing process to the letter and I have met with all of the state appointed doctors. I have handed over copies of every medical record I’ve ever had from every doctor I have ever seen. And now, tomorrow, [Thursday, August 27th @ 9am.] I have my final appointment with the Social Security office to determine weather or not I will be approved or denied coverage.
And I am on pins and needles.
I am asking all of you to please pray for me, or think positive thoughts for me. I am desperately hoping this comes through. Then I will be able to truly focus on getting well instead of being stuck in limbo. Then I will be able to learn how to accept [and subsequently to work within] my limitations without the underlying driving force of desperation weighing me down.
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