Good morning! First, I need to explain my extended absence and less than regular posts over the last year and a half. I have really missed you, truly. I have started writing this post in my head many times over the past few months, but every time I thought I had it right, life would throw me another curveball and I'd be back to needing additional time to sort it all out.
Now I am ready to share with you.
1. Due to a couple of ugly complications with my Psoriatic Arthritis and a continuing decrease in my mobility, my doctor and I decided it was time to go out on disability. My last day of work at the law office in Manhattan was December 9. This has been a much harder transition than I expected. Although I knew taking time off was best for me, I was not prepared to have no regular place to go every day. It has always been important for me to be useful, and I was suddenly feeling anything, but. My identity of Professional was suddenly stripped away from me. Even though I was still a wife, patient advocate, daughter and grandmother, this hit me hard.
2. Because the winters in New York were so hard on my Psoriatic Arthritis, my husband and I decided to move to a better climate, more affordable area and to be near family, in case I need additional help. I know it's hard to believe, but I am now writing you from right outside of Dallas! Don't get me wrong, we moved for all good reasons. There is nothing wrong with Dallas, but you and I both know New York is the greatest city in the World! And, I have a Manhattan-shaped hole in my heart. Each time we see New York City in a movie or television show, I feel a pang, but am excited that I can usually name the neighborhood and street where the scene is set. Even though I am still a City Girl, leaving Manhattan was hard for me.
3. Two weeks into our move to our new house, we were still living in a cardboard jungle. We were sharing one car and I did not have a current driver's license. It was rather depressing being trapped inside all day and Ubering to visit, shop or see the doctor. As expected with stress, my immune system attacked my respiratory system and I developed bronchitis.
While trying to get well, I received a call from my father that his bladder cancer had metastacized to his liver. He had only started feeling poorly on Christmas Day and received the stunning diagnosis that his liver was over 50% occluded on January 4. Days later I was finally able to fly and left Dallas to be with him in Florida for as long as needed. I wish I had not been to ill to travel earlier, because after one a half good days together in the ICU, my father's liver gave way to sepsis and he passed away in the early hours of January 14. You may recall this post, where I mentioned we lost my mother to lung cancer only 14 months earlier. I have been working since then to wrap up my father's estate and figuring out how to cope. Even though I am still a wife, writer, patient advocate and grandmother, realizing I am no longer a Daughter, my very first identity in life, has been more than I can handle. I mean, look how adorable they were!
I've not been myself for the last few months. The loss of my career and home to my own disease and the loss of both my parents in a year to cancer left me feeling worthless and very alone in the world. I knew none of this was really true, but it felt true. I've been knocked around by life once or twice before, but had never experienced a response this profound. Since then, with help from my therapist and GriefShare workshop, I am learning how to walk through these experiences more gracefully.
Did you know that grief can mimic the same symptoms as chronic illness? Before getting help, I sure didn't! Here are some I experienced:
A. Severe brain fog;
B. Unmanageable fatigue;
C. Cognitive impairment;
D. Weakened immune system;
E. Headaches and body pains; and
F. Depression and suicidal thoughts.
The awareness I've garnered from attending therapy and GriefShare has been the booster shot I needed. Now that I know these symptoms are common to mourners, I feel less like I am losing my mind and feel more in control every day.
On a positive note, I really love my new rheumatologist! I will begin physical therapy in a month, or so, once she has me feeling better, physically. In the meantime, my husband and cat are doing all they can to help me along. Thanks for being here and sticking with me. It means so much!