Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year Three

I've never made New Year's Resolutions or pondered the last calendar year, as is common practice at the end of December. However, I'm ending my second year on disability, and it's time to assess the past two years, and think about the third year to come. This just happens to coincide with December. Pure coincidence. Honest.

Year One of disability can be summed up in one word: paperwork. It's time consuming to apply for disability. I joke that you have to be in good health with a lot of stamina if you are going to apply. I documented my ten-year health decline in specific terms, what tasks and activities I could do before that I can't do now, for example. I completed dozens of questionnaires and forms for my private insurance company who then required me to apply for Social Security Disability. I learned that both are insurance policies that I've paid into for years, so should not feel ashamed about applying. Honest.

In addition, Year One was spent in doctors' offices being evaluated for everything else that could possibly give me disabling fatigue including sleep problems, depression, and alien abductions. I adjusted to life on 1/3 my previous salary and sold the "work-week home," the one closer to work that I needed so that I could sleep during my lunch hour or whenever I was crashing. When I was working, my life was all about doing whatever it took to continue working. That changed in Year One when all I did was whatever it took to get up in the morning. Really.

Year Two was The Year of the House. I had ignored the Delaware residence while I was working, and discovered that it was run down and needed a lot of work. Amazing what I didn't see when The Job was all that mattered to me. I implemented recommendations from occupational therapists for energy saving techniques. It was odd to see an occupational therapist when I didn't have an occupation, but that word refers to the work you do just in the course of getting through the day. Like cooking, bathing, dressing. Seriously.

I also dedicated time to adjusting to my "new" life without The Job. No job title, no career path, no time card gave me no reason to get up in the morning. It's amazing how life decays when all there is is The Job.

Year Two sent me to even more doctors to determine why my fatigue became worse than Year One. Every part of my body was poked, prodded or probed. Alien abductions seemed more plausible. Honest.

So what will Year Three's focus be? I've been declared permanently disabled. The house is happier now. I have incorporated accommodations to conserve energy. I have developed a supportive community. So what's next? Transportation alternatives? An exercise plan that doesn't exhaust me? Aliens coming to dinner?

Maybe the doctors will find what is causing my disabling fatigue. Maybe it will be decided that, "Yes, Joan, it is the MS." Will you be surprised?



  1. Great post. I've been reflecting a bit lately too and it's good to read your reflections.

  2. LOL, I will not be surprised. Year 3 for me was...oh yeah, a lovely remission and a new move, playing in a new neighborhood, walking a LOT, making new friends...a good year. Unfortunately, I have found MS years are best known in the rear view mirror. (ANYTHING is possible.)