Friday, April 8, 2016

Off The Rails


Off the Rails

Life should be wonderful. We just celebrated our 25th anniversary. My husband gave me a beautiful spinning wheel, something I have always wanted. I’ve  dieted away fifty pounds since Thanksgiving. Our home and cars are all paid for. Our sons have grown into wonderful adults. But I can’t enjoy this the way I would like to because my health and my career have spun out of control. 

For a long time I’ve looked at my health as a train wreck in super slow mo, knowing that a serious crunch at the end would be inevitable. But I haven’t always been unhealthy. My childhood was free of major illnesses and injuries, I climbed mountains and jumped across red rock. I took PE every term in college. As a young mother,  I tried to be a runner— savoring the  freedom and the time outdoors. To motivate myself, I signed up for races. I ran a couple of local 5 K run/walks and beat most of the walkers. I bought a subscription to Runners’ World.  

That was probably a mistake. I read many inspirational articles about marathons. I increased my running and started training for a half-marathon to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. I came in last, but made it, two years in a row. I never recovered from the second race. Instead, I continued to feel completely worn down. It took two years and too many doctor visits and tests to figure out the problem.

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at 34 and the pain has never left me. My doctor keeps finding miracle drugs that keep me more or less on my feet. These miracles have allowed me to continue work at a job I love and hate—teaching middle school English.  

But last year, the old drugs failed to dull my pain, and the pain was different—hotter, more insistent, everywhere. I was so tired and could no longer “fake it” at work. New fibromyalgia drugs helped a bit, but made me forget names, words, and even what I was doing.

No longer able to pass evaluations, I sought accommodation  through the Americans with Disability Act. District administrators basically accommodated me right out the door. So now I’m running out my sick leave, preparing for long-term disability.


This situation inspired my “Off the Rails” wool hat. The one pictured is made out of natural colored wool. You can buy the original hat at my ETSY site for $35, order a custom version in your choice of colors, or spend only $5 for the pattern so you can make your own. It would be a great gift for anyone who’s fond of, or nostalgic for railroads, although in brighter colors, it might just be a cool design. Feel free to rearrange the order of the charts to suit you. 

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