Howdy, folks. I hit a strange milestone today. It has officially been half my life since I was diagnosed in 2001 with my autoimmune condition.
On Nov. 16, 2001, I was admitted to the hospital, near death. On Nov. 21, the day before Thanksgiving, I left the hospital. That was 19 years ago, when I was 19 years old.
It’s crazy to think of everything I’ve done in those 19 years. It seems like such a small amount of time, but wow, it’s really not.
I am on my fifth job in my career. I have lived in four states. I have had seven (I think) different rheumatologists. I bought and sold a house. I fell more than $20,000 into debt and climbed out. I’ve had three cars. I lived through a hurricane. I mean, it’s difficult to sum everything up in just a graph or two.
Obviously the most difficult thing was losing my dad. I think about him every day, but I really think about him now, during Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is a big time in my family, and this is the fifth one without my dad. Today would have been my parents’ 54th anniversary. And next week is my mom’s dad’s birthday. He passed away when I was a kid, and it’s still hard to think about. And like I said, this week marks 19 years since I almost died.
I do have a lot to be thankful about, though. One big thing is where I am right now. I am so beyond glad that I moved in with my mom in 2018. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like for either of us if I hadn’t, and this pandemic hit. We both would have been so alone.
If I hadn’t moved here, I would have lost my job in South Carolina — three months after I left, they eliminated my position, and the guy who replaced me was laid off (I will always feel bad about that). And you may remember I was going to lose my job here, so after much searching I found a new job. It’s remote, and I love it. It’s such a perfect fit for me.
So, who knows where I would be if it weren’t for me moving here. I think about it a lot. Circumstances or fate or whatever just worked out perfectly Christmas Eve 2017. That’s when my mom and I had a weird phone call that culminated in me making plans to move here.
So, here come the holidays. And my mom and I aren’t alone. I can’t even find strong enough words to convey how thrilled I am about my situation at the moment.
For the first time in my adult life, I am truly happy. And it’s so strange to think that, because just a few months ago, in June, I was buried under a pile of depression. I had just lost my cat Leo, who I had for 16 years. I knew I was going to lose my job. The pandemic had kept me isolated. I was bored out of my mind.
Then I smacked myself in the face — figuratively, not literally. I bought a computer, started doing all kinds of things from home, including dieting, exercise, blogging, streaming and more. I still don’t know how I did it, but I pulled myself out of the funk. I climbed out of the depression. I smiled again. I laughed again. I quit being so angry all the time.
And the blog led to a column that I write. If you go to https://ancavasculitisnews.com, you will see a menu at the top that says “columns.” Click on that, and it says “(In)visible Journey.” That’s my column. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to share stuff about GPA with other folks who have it too.
And I found a great job with higher pay. I work remotely, so I can stay isolated because of the pandemic. I paid off the last of my debts this year. I reconnected with folks I hadn’t talked to in years. I lost more than 35 pounds. I exercise regularly. I am not bored. In fact, I am so busy now that I cut back on my blog posts to once a week instead of every day.
Thanks to everyone out there who read my blog, who talked or texted or messaged me, who gave me advice or virtual hugs and sent me job openings and tips. I really needed the boost and encouragement. And you all helped me get to where I am now, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
Until next time!