A Blessing in Disguise

“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed; it means the damage no longer controls our lives”. ~ Author unknown

I worked for 14 years for two different companies while dealing with migraines and the ups and downs associated with them throughout the years. Working and having a career are very important to me. And initially, working provided a much needed distraction to the daily pain. Which is a bit contradictory, because working also contributed significantly to the pain; the stress, the effort involved in getting ready each morning and dragging myself out of bed, driving 40+ miles each way in heavy traffic, not to mention the focus and energy required to work a full day, and in addition, putting in a lot of overtime, WAY too much overtime. I had very little work/life balance; it was more like a work/survive “balance”. But the alternative in my mind was not acceptable, I didn’t want to lie around and feel sorry for myself. So I soldiered on. I had had so much taken from me with this disease, and I was NOT about to let something else be taken from me; I felt it was one of the last things that I had control of and I was prepared to protect my ability to work with everything that I had.

And so I did. I threw everything into my work, more times than not paying for it in other facets of my life. Everyone has their limits, and I was constantly pushing myself WELL beyond mine, paying for it on a near daily basis.  But I just kept pushing, and rationalized the insanity because I was NOT going to be a statistic of this disease; I was NOT going to go on permanent disability, and I WOULD continue to work. I was blessed with the opportunities that were provided to me at my last employer. I’d like to think that I excelled in my job. I was promoted several times, I received raises on an annual basis, I was in management for several years, and I received excellent feedback from my managers and directors. Sure, they were aware of my health issues, there was no hiding it; sick days, having to work from home often, Short Term Disability more times than I can count. But I produced results and I worked hard.

As the years progressed, it became more than just a need to work for my own personal satisfaction. It was a need to work to keep my health insurance. I was always enrolled for health care benefits through my employer, and I was TERRIFIED to lose that, and change coverage to my husband’s plan. He worked for a much smaller company and I didn’t want to risk losing my care team if the health network varied; I was concerned about another insurance company paying for the expensive treatments, specialists, ER visits, Short Term Disability, etc.; and I was concerned about being denied coverage due to multiple pre-existing conditions. So I worked. Essentially, the pay check was a “bonus”, but the insurance coverage was my livelihood…

Eventually, enough was enough. After meeting with my Neurologist one day in June, 2012, she convinced me to file for long term disability, and was in full support of working with me on the required paperwork to make it a reality. So we started the long, arduous task of filing a claim. After I had exhausted my short term disability coverage for the 2012 calendar year, my employer terminated my employment. I was crushed. I was TERRIFIED about my insurance coverage. The appointment with the Neurosurgeon had been scheduled, my monthly prescription costs were outrageous, and I was at one doctor or another multiple times a month. I made the decision to go on COBRA insurance, because I was technically still covered by my employer’s insurance plan, I had met my deductible for the year, and didn’t feel I had a prayer in receiving the same care from a new insurance provider, especially mid-year. The decision turned out to be the right one. While COBRA is extremely expensive, nearly $600 a month for my coverage alone, I never met any challenges in receiving coverage, and my Neurostimulator surgery (which was about $60k for the trial and permanent placement), was covered in full.

Losing my job turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was finally able to focus on myself and my health in the time when I needed to do this most. I remained unemployed for 14-months, a time which I refer to as my “health sabbatical”. In August, 2013, I returned to work after providing myself an opportunity to heal both physically and mentally, and to adjust to my new life.

caring for myself


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