…you’ve got to have a J-O-B… if you wanna be…um… sane?? Ok, maybe not everyone, but definitely for me! I’ve recently had to rediscover why staying at home for long lengths of time is not a great option for me. I was laid off from my job a few months ago, so I’ve been laying REALLY low while trying to find my next “work home” (hence, one reason I haven’t posted in awhile). I don’t do well as a recluse. I need social activities and the buzz of everyone working around me, so I’m going a bit nuts at home. I realized, however, that this is the PERFECT topic to write about! “Is it?” You ask. I mean, most of you are probably reading this from your desk at work without a care in the world, so this may not seem like such a “hot topic” for you. As I’ve experienced, however, jobs aren’t always definite, and if you have any health issues, like me, you might want to stick around for a bit…
You see, the last time I was laid off was almost 20 years ago! WHAT? I know… I just totally aged myself by saying that. However, at that time, things seemed so much simpler. NOW… damn! It’s a whole new ballgame! Things have changed not only with the process of finding a job, but for my personal situation as well (I’m older, more experienced, have more health issues to worry about, and a LOT more bills to pay). While I’ve been chipping away at this job hunt process, a few things have popped up that I wanted to share with you:
- Absolutely sign up for unemployment if you qualify. I was going to wait until I needed it (because I had received a severance package), however, since the transplant and Celiac diagnosis, my bills and expenses have sky rocketed. Every penny I can get from unemployment is huge help with those expenses and I can focus on using my severance for rent and car payments, etc. Don’t hold off signing up!
- Discrimination is a possibility. While it’s illegal for any company to discriminate against someone due to their health, age, race, gender, etc., let’s be honest…it still happens. They may not openly admit it, but when a company is trying to weed out the top candidates from a pile of possibly hundreds or thousands of applicants, they will look for any excuse to eliminate you and make their job easier. It’s not ideal, nor is it right, but it’s reality. I’ve noticed in every application I’ve come across, a section where they ask for “voluntary information” that includes race, gender, etc. I generally don’t have an issue answering these questions, but they have now listed Diabetes as a “disability”. I have never, ever considered this a disability, but rather a condition I have to just deal with daily. I always choose the “I prefer not to answer” box for that question. That may cause a red flag by doing so, but I’d rather wow them with my Wonder Woman work skills before giving them a chance to judge me on my health (after they hire me)!
- Negotiate! Anyone that has pre-existing conditions already knows the importance of maintaining continual health insurance, and carrying proof of that continual health insurance. (If you don’t… take note! I have always had to prove to a new health insurance company that I had previous coverage for my conditions before they would cover me at a new company.) Something that most people aren’t aware of, though, is that when negotiating your final salary amount with a new employer, you can also negotiate your health insurance coverage starting date! A lot of companies make you wait a few months before beginning your new health insurance plan. If you are making COBRA payments, though, you know how extremely expensive that waiting period could get! I have always managed to negotiate the starting date of my insurance coverage to begin immediately upon my work-start date to prevent having to go broke. *crossing my fingers that I can continue to do so!*
- Stay healthy! While I haven’t been the best example of it lately, it’s very important to maintain your usual routine of staying healthy. Continue to see your doctors, keep working out, eat right… you know the drill. You do not want your health to suffer just because you aren’t working full-time! It’s tough, mentally, to stay motivated, but you’ll get through it, and you want to be healthy and ready to take on your next job chapter with gusto! I have been a bit too gusto with my cooking (I’ve had more time to do it, so why not…hee), so I have to be better about getting my booty to the gym, but I have made a strong point of not letting everything else slide while job hunting. 🙂
Now, as I excitedly look for a dinner recipe that might take two hours to cook (just because I can!), I’m making a promise to myself that I will make a trip to the gym tomorrow and try to make more of an effort to get out of the house!
Sharing time – I’m curious if anyone else has run into this fear or experienced any situations where your health has prohibited you from getting a job/promotion. Please share below!
Things I’m thankful for today:
- I have been given a package that will hold me over for awhile as I look for my next job!
- I have amazing support from my friends, family and ex-coworkers who are not only helping me network, but keeping my spirits high. 🙂
- My kitties LOVE having me home…they follow me everywhere now. I know that sounds silly, but it definitely makes me feel loved. hee…
- Robert – my amazing hair dresser. I’ve mentioned him before, but his cuts are of such good quality, it allows me to go for months longer without having to get a trim!
- My time off has allowed me to donate more time with JDRF…my sister, my mom and I all helped at the JDRF Gala a few weeks ago where they raised more than $2 million for diabetes research!
- OH! I almost forgot! In honor of it being Celiac Awareness Month, I made GF biscuits from scratch yesterday… the first time I’ve been able to eat biscuits is more than 5 years, and they were sooo good! See recipe here if you’d like to try them out.
So, I know this topic will seem a bit out of the blue, but it’s one of those topics that I felt I needed to add b/c not many women talk about it. And so far, none of the blogs I’ve read have ever mentioned it either. It’s regarding children, or rather, the choice of not having children post-transplant.
A song came on the radio the other day where the man sang about seeing the future of his and his lover’s lives together (with children, etc.) in her eyes (Damn! To have THAT skill…), and it stuck with me and kind of made me giggle. What if he was singing that to me, all romantic and mushy, and I had to cut him short and be all “Um… can I stop you there? Sorry, we need to talk.”
See, I’ve chosen not to have children biologically. There are a number of reasons why I’ve made this choice, but it seems to be a topic that most women in my situation are shy to say out loud because it can be so controversial. I have had a couple of boyfriends break up with me because they thought I was “unhealthy” or because I was not willing to have “his” children. I’m not sorry they are no longer a part of my life b/c it’s obvious that they were never meant for me to begin with. I’ve even heard someone say, in so many words, that a woman’s life is “worthless” if she doesn’t have children. I’m sorry that these people feel so strongly for such a shallow point-of-view, and that is why I’m writing this post.
I’ve watched as my friends and coworkers have expanded their families and raised beautiful children of their own, however, whenever the tables turn and I am asked the question that all women without children get – “So, when do you think YOU will have kids?” – I’ve noticed that sometimes when I responded, it was almost apologetically, as if I had to be ashamed of that choice, as if I was embarrassed to go against what society seems to expect of me as a woman to do because I have a uterus. (I promise, I’m not launching into a woman’s lib speech, bear with me!)
A lot of my choice is based on my medical issues. While I’ve never been the type of girl who’s always dreamed of giving birth to my own army, it was a big punch in the gut when my doctors – one by one – began telling me how high of a risk I’d be should I ever try to have children. They all basically told me that if I REALLY REALLY wanted to have a child, they would find a way to make it happen, but they strongly advised me against it saying it could very possibly kill me.
As a woman, the idea of having the ability to give life taken away from me was very sad and disheartening. It was so final, and yes, I even struggled with the whole “isn’t this what makes me a woman?” question. Luckily, the feeling was short-lived. It became just another one of those choices I’ve had to make in order to maintain a healthy life and…well, to actually STAY alive. I’m not saying that women can’t have babies post-transplant. Not at all. A lot of women have successfully had children post-transplant, and a lot of women with Type 1 Diabetes have successfully done the same. It’s the combination, however, of having Type 1 Diabetes, a transplant, heart issues, and Celiac Disease (which I’ve been reading can sometimes cause infertility), that makes for a very life-threatening situation that I am not ready to risk. I fought too hard to KEEP this life, I’m not about to lose it any time soon!
Not only that, but most of my health issues are hereditary. While it’s not guaranteed, I don’t want to take the chance of passing any of my health issues on to a child if I know I have the ability to prevent it. It’s one thing for ME to have the strength to go through all this, but I would not be able to stomach watching an innocent child suffer through what I had to. Nope! Not for me.
Every person is different and it is a very important and personal decision to make. A human life is not something I’m willing to gamble just for the sake of genetics, or to fit into society’s idea of what my role in life should be. I HAVE a family. A WONDERFUL one that consists of my parents, my sister, my relatives, and all of my friends who shape my existence and give me a very fulfilling and purposeful life! Deciding to be childless post-transplant has been promising for me b/c it’s giving me the opportunity to spend more time with the people I love, and I am not sorry for that. If this is your decision too, I hope you feel just as confident being able to say the same. 🙂
Things I’m thankful for today:
- I have a strong circle of child-free girlfriends who keep me from feeling as if I’m the only person alive not having babies.
- I’m thankful to have parents who have never pressured me or guilted me into feeling as if I had to give them grandchildren. They love my kitties just as much as I do. 🙂
- Excited that in a month, I’ll be in Austin getting to visit with friends whom I haven’t seen in WAAAAY too long!
Good news!!! My doctor informed me that my creatinine numbers are going back down! (Maria, I think you were on to something with your comment! ;)) They said that because everything looked good this time, there was no reason to worry about rejection, so for now, I’m in the clear! Woooohooo!!!
I swear, the first song that came on the radio on my way home was Eye of the Tiger – which is fitting since Kirby is KICKING BUTT! I just pictured Kirby running up the Rocky stairs with boxing arms swinging saying “Bring it! I will NOT be taken down!” 😀 It also seemed like every song after was one inspiring song after the next. Even the rainy, gray clouds cleared and I had sunny, blue skies all the way home! No joke! As cheesy as that sounds, I did truly feel as if God was sending me the message to say “everything is gonna be alright!” Or was that Bob Marley? I did cry a little out of relief and also from thinking of how much this has stressed my entire family out over the last month. It’s like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.
Now, I just have to make sure I’m an absolute PEST to this pharmacy to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. I am still trying to negotiate with our benefits team to allow me to switch pharmacies, but that might be on-going and a months-long process, so I’ll keep at it. I can be incredibly persistent when I have to be. Hee…
I want to thank everyone who commented, emailed and texted me with your prayers and suggestions! I truly have the best people surrounding me, and without you, this fight could seem impossible. Your words helped me stay strong when I went into panic mode, and it really, REALLY helped. Thank you!
On a similar topic, I’d like to share a special evening I had last week that also helped me stay inspired. I was invited as a special guest of our Tiffany & Co partners to attend the Taylor’s Gift Awards dinner. (For those who are unaware of this organization, it’s the only non-profit organization of it’s kind to help promote organ donation. They also help with financial aid for families having to go through the organ donation process. For more on their story, which is an amazing story, click here.) It was a very emotional night as people told their stories, but it was the boost of positivity I needed the day I received the news of my kidney last week. 🙂 Plus, they even raised more than $50K to help the cause! I’m hoping to be able to donate some time with them in the future!
Things I’m thankful for today: