I was shocked recently when my social worker brought up for the first time the subject of social security disability insurance. I am currently working three jobs. As she spoke, I had many thoughts flying through my mind with nowhere to land.
We have student loans, a new house, and care of our animals to consider. I have health insurance through work. My peers are thriving in their careers. The mention of this assistance shook me for many reasons. However, my social worker left me with a sentiment that made the idea of giving up my job or changing my career easier to accept. Her view was that each person deserves to enjoy her life and not wear herself out working if that’s all she can do.
The first time I’d heard this position expressed was at a CF MiniCon hosted by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I was in a breakout session with other adults with CF. We were sipping wine and chatting about our lives when we got onto the topic of careers. One person had recently given up working. I was intrigued. This person had concluded that although they could work, their job had become their entire life.
This attitude struck me because that’s how I was beginning to feel. I love my job — I’m a self-proclaimed workaholic — and I wasn’t ready to give up my career or reduce my workload. But a seed had been planted.
In a previous column, I spoke about the difficulties of becoming disabled. I find it hard to give up the things I love because cystic fibrosis has taken them away. When the topic of social security disability was brought up, I thought, “But I just got off IVs, and I feel great for the first time in a long time. I can keep up.” While I believe that it’s important to acknowledge these feelings and the hurt that accompanies the difficult decisions we are forced to make, being mortal comes with an expiration date — and we need to make each day count.
I used to think that I was fulfilled by working hard at my career. But I realize now that there is much more to life. I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and seeing the world. I intend to spend time on hobbies such as writing with a view to pursuing them as new, more flexible careers.
I can stay in my position for now, and I’m relieved that I don’t have to decide on my next professional step yet. However, I’ve found comfort in starting the conversation and discovering what else is out there. Instead of fearing the day that the door labeled “career” will be closed and locked, I now see many other options to explore.
I don’t know what the future will hold, but I accept that while there will be hardships, I am excited about new opportunities.
Follow my journey at “The Living, Breathing Wendy.”
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.
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