Career-wise, I was always very driven. Starting with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a job at a public accounting firm in a small midwestern city, I progressed through a couple of great career moves, putting in a ton of hours and adding to my list of accomplishments. Except I had a vague feeling that something was just not right and realized that, even on a good day, I had low level pain all over.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 1996. And a few years later with Osteoarthritis. And at some point after that with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, although my primary care physician never told me when he added it to my list of diagnoses. By 2006, I was in such a state of exhaustion and burn-out that I could no longer work full-time. I quit my job (which I loved) and slept a lot.
Two months later I began working part-time at our local animal shelter and discovered a new passion. I started to foster dogs on a short-term basis to improve their socialization or allow to them recover from illness or injury. I had found a new calling! Later, I joined a dachshund rescue and volunteered with them when I was able. I could make short transports, make home visits in the area or help with fund-raising and marketing.
Through fostering, I adopted a double-dapple dachshund with the shortest hair I’ve ever seen! Charlie was cold all the time, so I decided to relearn the art/skill of knitting. I had not knitted since I was ten, but the basics came back to me rather quickly thanks to YouTube. I immersed myself in it and found knitting was a craft I could do on all but my worst days. I am not the most accomplished knitter in my circle, but I do love it and I keep learning.
I also found an amazing support system in the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Self-Help program. It has truly been a lifeline for me and I am slowly learning a new way to live and to halt the push and crash cycle. Not only does their website have a first-rate library, but the classes and email groups sustain my spirit and give me strength and hope.
I am reclaiming my life. And, oh look! There goes a squirrel!