On June 25th, 2002 I officially became “unemployed.” Rather than being fired, I left a 10+ year IT career and became “disabled.” I had lost my mind… literally.
Oh, don’t think for a MINUTE that I was AT ALL happy about it.
In fact I was mad… actually “mad” doesn’t even come close to how I felt… angry, resentment, grief, despair, hopelessness…
… it has taken me NINE YEARS to come to terms with it…
WHY was my ability to “work”, the very way that I “defined myself,” ripped away from me at the young age of 35?
What was I going to do with my life, how could I redefine myself?
How was I going to replace a six figure income when I was denied Long Term Disability due to a “pre-existing condition”?
The FIRST thing I realized is that my biological clock was ticking LOUDLY and that I could NOT hit the snooze button any longer.
I have Lupus (SLE) and I was told that my “window” for becoming a Mommy would close at the age of 35. On Christmas Night (exactly 6 months after becoming jobless) I decided I lost my ability to work because it was time to have a baby… our daughter was conceived on February 26th, 2003 – ONE DAY before my 36th birthday.
I spent the next 8 months being a full time “baby factory” and even though it was a tough 8 months, we were blessed with a PERFECT, beautiful healthy daughter on October 24th (induced 4 weeks early)… which also happened to be my mother’s birthday… to this day they have been and continue to be soul mates.
So now what? I’d been dabbling in eBay over the prior 6 months (September 2002), and I was now addicted to “yard saling”…
It was of course a natural progression to start outfitting our nursery and baby accessories from yard sales, thrift stores and the like.
I started learning about stuff that sold well on eBay and the stuff that didn’t.
I also learned what I had to “fight for” and what got ignored.
And then a flash of inspiration hit me, then and there….
Was there an overlap between the stuff
that got IGNORED at yard sales and what sold WELL on eBay?
You bet there was!!!!
What a revelation…. and a new career began to take shape….
Now, all this time I STILL had the primary reason why I was now an “unemployed, disabled, stay-at-home mom.”
And it WASN’T because I liked to watch the soaps and eat bon-bons….
I have two brain tumors.
The first was initially found in 1999 when I was suffering from chronic vertigo.
After a bunch of “dizzy tests” — think big chair, lots of wires hooked up to me and either pitch black or strobe lights… then picture being strapped into a chair – arms, chest, legs and head and spun, tilted, whirled… luckily I LOVE carnival rides just like that (except maybe I would have liked to lose the wires and straps).
It was AT LEAST an hour of “fun” – and in the end it was determined that I have balance issues BOTH from early ear infections causing scarring AND brain involvement.
So I had an MRI to check for obvious problems… and they found nothing, EXCEPT for what has now been identified as a cavernoma; evidence of a past brain injury/bleed.
My doctor at the time, Doc Scott, told me not to panic… it was probably very old and I could have been born with it. So we decided to wait and watch…. and we looked at it again in 2000… no change… and again in 2001 (early in the year).
THAT is when my “problem” was discovered. I had “sprouted” a meningioma. It was very, very small… and again “nothing to worry about.”
In hindsight, as The Little Prince wisely pointed out; Baobab trees START very small before they take over and do damage to a tiny little planet. Such is the story of my tumor.
Life passed, I quit my job at GE (General Electric Global eXchange Services), took a Military Contractor position for a couple months and then joined a start up web collaboration tool software development company – my final IT career destination.
I started in late August of 2001… and then my world, most Americans worlds actually, fell apart when the twin towers fell, part of the pentagon went up in flames and the brave passengers on the third plane went down in the PA field….
I lost my doctor… and NO she didn’t die… I was followed at NIH (the National Institutes of Health) and Doc Scott had only 5 patients that she had kept on when she left her position in the Rheumatology Clinic at NIH to work with the FDA.
She had been my Lupus doctor since July 1988.
BUT, once 9/11 hit, she was forced to work even more hours on researching smallpox and vaccination protocols, etc. She could no longer keep up with her small case load, and to say I was devastated, is a gross understatement.
By early 2002, I was doing really strange stuff. I had unexplained fleeting pain, I developed ADD, I lost ALL short term memory capabilities….
I was getting lost while driving to work… where I would go into a panic / anxiety attack to the point where I had NO CLUE where I was at all (other than driving my car)….
I started running my car into other things as I never saw them or imagined red lights when they were green or vise-versa.
I threw away my palm pilot… and I lost my entire “life.” I never was able to reconstruct what was on it!
Things went from bad to worse… and I finally left my IT career before I was fired…..
Any NORMAL person would have immediately realized that since the 2002 follow up MRI showed the little tiny meningioma had grown, maybe, just maybe the INTELLIGENT thing to do would have been to have it removed… did I mention normal?
I’m anything but that… so no surgery!
I had a litmus test at this point.
I was already out of work, and I saw no way to be able to return anytime soon.
My criteria was strange, my criteria was LOW, my criteria was incredibly short sighted!
“As long as I can dress myself, and I don’t drool – it stays put!”
I actually DID have to revise it at one point – when I was pregnant, I started drooling at night, and I once left the house with my shirt on backwards AND inside-out….
but that was only for a few months of “Pregnancy Induced Stupidity (Seriously).”
So the years passed… I got follow up MRIs, and the first tumor never changed… but that damn Baobab kept on growing… that weed in my head, that I was unwilling to pull.
As time marched on, I developed MORE cognitive symptoms. I could tell I was losing a little bit more function each and every day… 2004 after I had my daughter, it doubled in size.
Still… NO surgery… I even went to a neurosurgeon who suggested I consider it. NOPE! No drooling here!
I had another MRI in 2007… still more growth…
still no change in attitude…
Then LAST JUNE I started up this blog.
I hadn’t been able to write for ALL that time prior to starting this blog.
It is one of my strengths… but still I struggled to get stuff up here.
I STILL have my good days and bad days (hence my erratic publishing schedule LOL) – but I have been pushing through….
Last November, I felt that I was again declining somewhat…. and, of course, my weed had grown again! NOW, not only was my Internist and Neurologist in COMPLETE agreement that it was time to remove it… I reluctantly agreed as well.
In April… after the riot act was read to me with a lot of stern tones and threats of imminent death, I finally (begrudgingly) agreed with Dr. Brinkley and went and had yet ANOTHER MRI. Still bigger, this time producing a noticeable mass effect… and my vision had become blurry with headaches…. she was right … time to get it taken care of!
The big gray blob is my “weed”… it’s in the left frontal lobe. Positioned near my left ear.
I’m happy and proud to announce that I actually KEPT my appointment on June 2nd.
Almost 9 years to the day (on June 21st) I am finally going to let the landscaper go in and clean up my garden.
I am scared, to be sure… but I am OKAY with it too.
Chances are VERY high that I will emerge at least the same (if not better) cognitively and the blurry vision and headache should be a distant memory.
I am also okay with leaving my business for the time it’ll take to have the surgery done and to recover… because I have something that EVERY entrepreneur needs…
a business support system.
One of my latest Joint Ventures with me, Debra Conrad & Stuart Turnbull (What To Sell For Money) will be re-vamped, officially launched and stocked with new guides…
Look for NOaH (Niche On a Hook), PROOF (Prints Return Outstanding Online Fortunes), uPDate (unique PUBLIC DOMAIN advice, thoughts & e-commerce) ….
and a BRAND NEW eBay Guide that I’ll let you in on later this week …
As of June 1st, I have officially partnered with Stuart Turnbull on EVERY aspect of our businesses and we are working very hard producing stuff that teaches his antique & vintage print business model.
So between Debra & Stuart I know that everything is in extremely CAPABLE hands and will continue to function as well if not BETTER than when I was the only one in charge!
It’s GREAT to have friends to help you get your house AND garden in order!
Debbie, Debbie…. quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
The countdown begins….
and in just over two weeks I will once again function as if a professional landscaper and housing contractor was FINALLY hired (“Holmes on Homes” to the rescue)….
Thanks for all YOUR support as well…
it’s WONDERFUL knowing I have you to talk to!