Thursday, May 19, 2011

Experience

Opportunities in this world are rare...that's why you have to take them when they come. But have my opportunities all gone since my illness has worsened?

I started working at age 14 in a local Dime store. My father and mother taught me to work hard both in school and for everything I ever needed. I am grateful for this gift. I worked during college. My first two years of college, I worked at night at a sewing factory and earned scholarships. The work paid for my clothing and other needs. It also helped pay for family needs because my dad said, "You've graduated. Get a job and pay rent." Didn't matter that I was going to school. I had to contribute. And I did.

When I transferred to a college away, I worked, got scholarships, loans, etc., anything to help me earn my degree. The family didn't have money to help me. I did it myself with hard work and much prayer. On graduation day, I walked the line, packed my bags and returned home to care for a very ill mother until she died the following January. I worked full time and cared for my dad and brother until both died.

When I was diagnosed with systemic lupus after being so sick for months after my brother died, I pushed on working hard. My job, however, did not want me "draining their insurance" even though I was early in the illness. Shortly after my dad died, they laid me off. I learned a great lesson during that time. Church does not equal compassion.

I continued working and working until the disease sent me to the ER many many times, the last one throwing up blood. It was then I was told by my doctor I HAD to stop or I would die. Little did I know the world I would enter would destroy what little self esteem I had left.

Church Sunday School "family" told me they thought I would feel better going to another church. No one sat with me in church. When I went to the ER, no one came. Even today as I am confined to a small apartment in a very unsafe neighborhood, I do not have visitors or supporters. When I am in the hospital, my one devoted friend is the only person who visits. My family is dead. I never married....I took care of my immediate family while they were sick and took care of their final burials. There is no one left. I worked. It was the most devastating life changes I ever faced having to stop working, losing my family, losing my health.

Now I am thankful just to be able to get up in the morning, on days I can, stand in the shower, when I can, and sleep without pain, which is few and far between. It only took one diagnosis to destroy the work I started as a young teen, to destroy the life I had hoped for, to destroy the dreams I was determined to make reality.

My life is one of disability, medicare, loneliness and fear. I only go outside now when I head to the hospital,doctor or grocery store. The neighborhood I've ended up in has taken what is left of the crumbs of my self esteem. There are days I breathe in and out and wonder why.

Have my opportunities all died with me?

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