We all undergo change, some mild and insignificant whereas others tend to be life altering. We know of common change such as the style of clothes we wear, a hairstyle, the type of music we listen to and so on. Many of us undergo change that others may not notice so quickly. Health tends to be the most common of these.
After having my Ileostomy or the diagnosis of MS, I would come across people I had not seen in many years. As is most often the case, we would exchange pleasantries, often the first question is “So how have you been?”
For those reading this, you may know how heavy this simple question truly is. A sense of panic or dread may overtake your mind, perhaps a sense of embarrassment. There tends to be a long pause in thinking of how to respond to this question…
“Do I tell the truth? I cannot tell the truth! It will turn into a long conversation and I don’t know what to say or how to say it. I’ve been through so much and they look the same, I don’t want their pity. But what if they already know? Could the know? How would they know? Ahhh I don’t know what to say!!!”
For those having experienced this, you know all these questions flash through your mind in a matter of seconds. Typically, the answer to their question is the same, “Not much, how have you been?”
Depending on the person you cross paths with, there two options I will revert to. First being, ‘they don’t need to know everything, not worth wasting their time and mine’. Second being ‘we had a close friendship in the past, I’ll ask them how much time they have’.
When using the latter, I ask in a joking tone, to keep the conversation light. I am then able to explain what I have experienced during the time we had not spoken. What is often forgotten, the other person most likely had the same questions running through their mind when they bumped into me.
Change is inevitable. Change is constant. For myself, our family dynamic has changed. Since the age of 18 I have worked full time. When faced with a drastic health issue such as a relapse of my MS, Pyoderma Gangrenosum and when a stomach flu hits, which effects a person with an Ostomy very hard! I am forced to step away from work. Over the years this has become more of a constant occurrence rather than a once and a while problem.
As a father of two, my wife and I have obligations to our children and to each other. A stark realization has set in, my Full Time career in retail management is no longer the best situation for me. This is not a matter of giving into my illnesses, rather recognizing I need to make a change in myself in order to get to a place where I can feel fully enriched. I have the personality and ethic that I should be working in some capacity until I am unable to do so. Not solely out of necessity, rather my outlook and sanity!!
Since I have stepped back, I am able to refocus my energies into something that gives me the same, perhaps greater self fulfillment. Spending quality time with my children and my wife. Developing new friendships outside of the employment circle of colleges. Allowing for time to develop a constant blog, even though I may sometimes be one or two days late with my personal goal of posting the same day each week 😉
It took me to analytically review my family life as well as household income. Time missed from work is not obviously compensated at full earnings. Which has created issues during relapses. I realized, working 45+hours a week in a high paced environment, both physically and mentally, is not viable any longer. For the last number of months I have not worked Full Time, one of the comments from my wife was she could not believe the way in which my energy levels had changed. I was more present in conversation with our children and with her. I began to loose some weight and overall was noticeably changed for the better.
I took this comment with a grain of salt. Until recently I had not noticed a great deal of change. Like many, I have aspirations and personal goals I would like to achieve. For the first time in my life, I feel as though I can reach my personal goals. I have a story to tell, and a unique way of telling it, or so I’m told. Having experienced Ulcerative Colitis, an Ileostomy, Multiple Sclerosis, Seizures and Pyoderma Gangrenosum I have a lot to share. Until this most recent change in our family dynamic, an opportunity to pursue change in my life seemed unattainable. My mental and physical energies were exhausted at work. Something many may be learning for the first time about me.
I am not the same person I was last year, nor five years ago. I truly believe none of us are.
The reason for this is quite simply… change.