Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stress, Illness, Pride

In July of 2011 I was forced to quit my job as a chiropractor's assistant. The short story of this horrible nightmare was that the new boss our office inherited just wanted all of the information I knew about the office before getting rid of me, just because, and bringing in his own staff.  After two long months of unemployment, luckily I was being supported by my fiance, I was offered two jobs at the very same time.  Each one by itself wasn't enough of a paycheck, so I decided to accept both jobs.

It sounded very easy. I start work at 7:30, break at 1:00; lunch, then resume work at 2:45 until 6:30 and then I was done.  Simple! But I was wrong.

Having to be at work by 7:30 caused me to set an alarm around 6:00a.m., and being able to get up that early meant I had to be in bed by 10:00-10:30.  The problem: my looming insomnia. I never realized my sleeping troubles caused me so many problems until I had to wake up early almost every morning. Even if I was tired, going to bed only caused my mind to race.  Not being able to sleep stressed me out, because lack of sleep made me terribly sick in the morning. I used to be able to wake up early; I used to open a gym at 5:00 in the morning, but that was no longer something I was able to do. 

I enjoyed the aesthetics of the morning, waking up and seeing the sunrise was beautiful, but I always felt so tired, I was barely able to function. After waking up early almost 4-5 times a week, sometimes working 6 days a week, my body told me it had had enough.

On Friday, April 13th (and may I say, I have never had an unlucky Friday the 13th!!), I got up to go to work as usual, but felt extra tired. Whatever, I'll just have some coffee and I'll be ok, I thought.  I stopped by Noah's and got some coffee, and a bite to eat in case I got hungry later.  When I got to work, I was so tired, and I was feeling sick to my stomach. I couldn't drink my coffee, or eat my food. I figured it was a side effect of sleep-deprivation.  Then, light started bothering me, like I had a migraine, and I don't get migraines often. 

Suddenly, it happened. I was in the bathroom at work throwing up.  I called my manager and told her I was in bad shape, I was shaky and cold, and still feeling very, very sick. I was in and out of the bathroom 3 times while I waited for my manager to come and relieve me.  I had never felt so bad at work in my life. The minutes dragged on and on.

Finally, she came and I was able to leave.  I began to drive home, worried I might throw up on the way.  And of course, every obstacle blocked my 5 minute commute home--red lights, light rail, pedestrians, etc., not to mention the speed bumbs when I finally got to my apartment complex(speed bumps are 10x worse when you're nauseous). When I got home, my fiance was still there. It was still early enough in the morning to where he hadn't left for work yet. I ran to the bathroom, getting home just in time.

I felt horrible all day and into the night.  I knew it wasn't food poisoning as I hadn't even eaten any dinner the night before. Plus, with food poisoning, I usually perk up after noon.  But I still felt very sick. I was able to stay home the next day, too, and was glad for it because I needed it. This was Saturday.

On Monday, I got up for work and as I was dressing, I noticed in the mirror that I had two patches of bright red bumps on my waist line and my back.  Horrified, I didn't know what to think. Did I sleep on a spider? Mosquitos? Fleas??? Even more horrible--are these bed bug bites?! Praying it wasn't bed bugs, my fiance and I checked our bed and surrounding areas and found no evidence. Thank goodness. But I still had no idea what these bumps were. Then, they started to get worse.

The bumps itched, but when I would touch them, it would hurt so badly.  The pain went deep into my body.  Since they were on my waist and back, all of my clothes touched them, causing bouts of pain all day. Into the night, they itched and caused me to sleep even less than I already do.  I finally made the decision to see my doctor, when they got so much worse that I was crying out in pain; I was so exhausted. 

My doctor took one look at the bumps and said, "Yep. That's shingles."  My eyes widened. "Shingles?? But that's an old lady disease!" I protested.  She shook her head, "Not so much anymore, I am seeing more and more young people with it nowadays. How is the stress in your life?"

And with that, I burst into tears.  My jobs, my relationships, my sporadic sleep schedule, my wedding plans, plus, I wasn't eating all that great during this time. All of this stuff on my shoulders had caused my body's immune system to tank far down enough to where I got a disease that a feeble, little old lady would get.  In fact, both of my grandmothers had experienced this in their elderly life. And here I was, a bright young 24 year-old with shingles on my waist. 

I felt so weak. I felt so defeated.  People all over the world work two jobs, some work 3. There are people who handle so much more than me, and they don't get sick. Why couldn't I handle it? I felt like a little girl. My pride was completely destroyed. I'm doing my best to go with the flow. I'm not a high-stress person. Just because I can't handle high-stress doesn't make me a bad person. But still, it hurts a little.

My doctor ordered me two weeks off of work and told me to relax.  She even gave me some meds to help with the pain, which they did.  And I did my best to do nothing, which was mostly successful ;)  It's hard for me to sit still.

Anyway, this led to me quitting my morning job. Today is my last day. I'm a little sad, but definitely relieved that I don't have to wake up early anymore.  The sleep stress was some of the biggest stress in my life right now.  Plus, the stress from not having a good night's rest.  Now I'll be able to focus more on my afternoon job, and put more energy into it. And, I'll have more time in the morning now to exercise, make breakfast, eat lunch, and do the things I couldn't do because I was at work and/or was too exhausted to do anything.

So, were my shingles a blessing, or a curse?  It's funny, the weeks before I got my shingles, I wished that something would happen to help me slow down and relax. I'm not religious, yet, when I went with my fiance to take pictures of church decorations his mom had done, I lit candles for the Virgin Mary and prayed for something to help me. And I got shingles.  I had been fretting about work for weeks leading up to my getting shingles, and I have heard the human body can bring illness when the person wants to so badly avoid something. I thought it was funny, anyway :)

Now, I am almost full recovered, I just have some small scars that will probably go away over the next month or so.  Today is my last day working a 9-hour day.  Today was my last morning waking up at 6:45 without having had a full night's rest.  While I'm sad to leave, I am very grateful that I became so sick. It gave me the reason I needed to quit my morning job. Now, I'll be able to get my life back on track, get more organized, and work on myself. I'm very excited :)

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