Where I’ve Been

So this is what’s been going on…

A year ago, I finally quit my corporate job. There were a lot of reasons to leave. The job was stressful and the work environment, toxic; which largely contributed to my depression and anxiety reaching an all time high (or low, depending on how you look at it.) They were taking away my ADA accommodations one by one, despite my doctor still recommending I have them. And more than ever, I felt a strong pull towards my art.

So I decided. It was time, time to take a leap. I chose to quit the job that was making me sick with anxiety to pursue my art as a full time career. The time seemed right. I had a decent amount of money saved, I was creating more than ever, and I had big, solid plans for how to move my business forward.

So I quit. It was one of the greatest (and scariest) feelings ever. But mostly, it just felt like finally being free. So I worked like crazy every day, blasting through large to-do lists of tasks to improve every aspect of my business. I felt like I was finally moving in the right direction and doing what I truly loved. It was still frustrating and stressful, because things always seem to be more difficult than necessary, but I loved it all the same. And then, everything stopped…

Only two months in to this journey, I woke in terrible pain; pain in my abdomen, pelvis, back, hips, and legs. The pain and pressure was intense. It made it almost impossible to sit or stand, and sometimes I wasn’t even able to walk. The next few months consisted of countless doctors, tests, and exams, but mostly, just waiting, pain, and zero answers. I’ve never heard so many doctors say the words, “I don’t know” before (which is always comforting.)

No one knew what was wrong with me. I felt lost and helpless. I wasn’t able to do anything except lay in bed all day. I couldn’t paint; I couldn’t focus on anything business related. I just…existed, and barely.

Eventually, due to crazy medical bills and so much time spent being unable to work, we ran out of money. And I felt like my dream had died.

So despite still living in terrible pain every day, I had to try to go out and get a new job. I was unable to find anything as high paying as my previous corporate career; instead I had to settle for the first job I could find. And while it was at a company I did have an interest in working for, it was only part time, and paid terribly. Working was incredibly difficult. It required sitting or standing which made my pain exponentially worse, but jobs where you can lay down, just don’t exist. I struggled daily not only with pain, but intense fatigue, just getting to work each day was a challenge.

Eventually I was able to take a full time position in the company, still terrible pay, but at least some more hours. Even though I now had full time hours, our financial situation was still awful due to the low pay. I could no longer afford to pay the copays required to see my doctors and eventually had to give up my health insurance altogether. I felt like I was doomed to live in this horrible pain for the rest of my life. I had no way of seeing doctors and any company that actually paid a living wage, wouldn’t call me back.

After being in my full time position for a few months, I was finally eligible to get health insurance (although at the expense of my husband giving up his just so we could afford it.) Following a few more doctor visits and more tests, I finally had a diagnosis. (10 months after this all began.) I was diagnosed with Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS). This is a condition where your veins do not work properly, reflux blood, and become enlarged, causing pain and a myriad of other symptoms.

Frustration Blue and Black Abstract Splatter Painting

This diagnosis I received wasn’t exactly new though. At one point during my journey, I ended up in the ER due to terrible pain, and terrible advice from a doctor that didn’t know what to do for me. I had a CT scan that provided this exact diagnosis. But, being such a rare condition, it was almost impossible to find a doctor that has ever even heard of PCS, let alone one who knew how to treat it. After much waiting back in July I finally saw a “specialist” in this field who had decided that I hadn’t been in pain long enough for him to do anything about it. (I had been in daily pain for 2 months straight at that point). Every doctor I saw after that brushed it off since it was so rare and unknown; all this resulting in my subsequent suffering for more months to come.

Flash forward to now, a doctor who saw this same diagnosis on the MRI she ordered for me, and while she did not know much about this condition, she took the time to research it, instead of just brushing it off. After her research, she knew she wasn’t the right doctor to help me with this, but she still felt strongly that this was what was wrong and tried to find someone who could treat it. The rarity of this condition is demonstrated by fact that not one doctor in the entire Jefferson Hospital network knew enough about PCS or had any experience treating it, most of them had never even heard of it before. So I ended up driving over an hour, to another state to find someone who could actually help me.

In the next few weeks I will be undergoing a procedure that will hopefully help me get my life back. It may not be the end, more procedures may need to be done, other doctors may need to be consulted, and an exploratory surgery is still not out of the question, but I feel like I’m finally on the way to not having to live like this any longer.

To pull this story back to what we’re all here for, art: I felt like I had lost my passion for art, I felt like my dream of pursuing art as a full time career, had died. I tried it and the universe threw a huge wrench in my plans. But I’m not done yet. I have not given up. I may be down, but never count me out.

I don’t know if it’s because of a new opportunity I was given, that inspired some digitally made art pieces created from paintings I had previously done, or because I feel like there may finally be an end in sight to this suffering, but I feel like a switch has been flipped inside me. And all of the sudden my passion and drive for art has been reignited.

I still wish I was able to go all in again, to be able to give this venture the time and attention it needs to grow. But I am going to do everything I can on the side of my current, crappy paying job to get there. It’s like the wheels have finally started turning again. I have a thousand ideas, and tons of them that can be executed even while I am still physically unable to paint.

Basically, what I’m saying is, I’m back. And I’m ready. I will gladly take on whatever obstacles the universe wants to throw at me this time, but I’m going for it, and there isn’t a single thing that can stop me this time.

mae abstract art
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