Editor’s Note: This post was reviewed and updated as necessary on 5/11/1/9. Thank you.
I probably shouldn’t be writing this right now. I’m so full of rage I’m apoplectic. I need to get some of this off my chest. I feel like I’m one big raw nerve being used as a hacky-sack by a battalion of porcupines. I feel sorry for the one who makes me burst, because I’m taking him down with me. All over a piddly little part-time job. Failure stings like a mother fucker. Rationally I understand that the circumstances of that failure are beyond my control, but truly, it doesn’t hurt any less. Going in, I knew there was a good chance it wouldn’t work, but still I can’t help but grieve the loss.
I had to quit driving with Uber. What precipitated this decision is the level of brain fog and cognitive impairment I deal with was quite literally putting lives at risk. After multiple very near misses (and being reported for one of my safety issues), I had to finally admit that I should probably quit before I ended up wrapped around a tree. This was on top of whittling away at my schedule until I was only working 4-6 hours a week because the physical and emotional stress was causing too much strain on my health with increased fatigue, new infections and other symptoms. It simply isn’t worth the risk to my health and the public safety.
Part of me is proud for admitting this and hanging up my keys on my own before anything bad happened. I watched my mother deteriorate the same way. She had to be forced to retire from her job, and did things like drive long after she should have while everyone who loved her looked on in horror. I don’t want to be that person.
I was hit with these cognitive problems 30 years younger than my mother was and I’m pacing the confines of my mind like a caged tiger. I wasn’t ready for this 10 years ago and I’m not ready for it now. Queue the renewed grief, the rage, the stages I have already come through and must revisit again after having had a taste of freedom.
Because I can no longer hold my job, the size of my world has shrunk back to 950 square feet. I’m not just losing the weekly interaction with my riders, a renewed sense of purpose, the feeling that I’m contributing to the betterment of my family and paying down my massive medical debt and working toward future goals. I’m losing my car and means of going out into the world at will because we’ll have to sell it. I’m losing a lot of confidence in my abilities and gaining the realization that even the most simple jobs are beyond my abilities. I can’t be trusted, not even by myself and that hurts A LOT.
If I’m being completely honest, I’m also relieved. I was stressed and worried all the time over what I was doing to my health, over the strong possibility of causing an accident and/or getting kicked off of the Uber platform for my many mistakes, over not being able to see well enough in the dark to work nights and over how it might eventually effect my social security. By finally admitting that I was in over my head and slowly drowning, I’m able to go back to concentrating solely on what I should be concentrating on; achieving the best health possible so I can live as comfortable and full a life as possible for as long as I have it. It’s a catch .22; I can’t enjoy relatively stable health when I’m doing too much and exposing myself to constant stress, even if that creates other stressors for me in the long run, even if it sometimes feels like hardly living.
The fact of the matter is I still have a lot of hurdles to address and caring for myself takes every ounce of energy I have. I have to cook all of my food from scratch. I have near weekly medical appointments, daily therapies, exercise and self-care I cannot do without and even things like keeping my pills stocked and organized accounts for hours each week. My cognitive deficits and shaking hands make me painfully slow at everything. I feel like a tortoise in a hare’s world and most of those things were either getting half-assed or completely ignored in exchange for a lousy $100-150 a week.
As I write this, I can feel all the anger starting to release. I can feel the logic and forgiveness taking over as the big picture comes into focus. I think of the money side of things and fear fills my sails, but no amount of money is worth dying for. I think back to where I was before I began working, when I took the time to create everything from scratch and I wasn’t in constant pain with bowel cramping, bloating and diarrhea. When I had decent energy levels and didn’t suffer constant subluxations or torn tendons and ligaments because I managed every move like a miser and actually took the time to stick to a dedicated exercise routine that strengthened and energized me. These are the things I need to focus on and look forward to achieving again while trying to put this experience behind me.
My attempt at working part-time may have failed, but that doesn’t mean I’m a failure. If that were true, I would be accepting that I am nothing more than my diagnoses. Yes, I am a zebra with the trifecta of comorbid conditions, but that’s not all I am. I am a writer, a poet, an artist, a wife, a friend, an activist, a dreamer, a former teacher. I am a person with value, whether or not you see it or assign a monetary value to it.