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yes...that is true and that is what I should say when people ask me where I am working now. I have been saying either that I am disabled or on disability. People who have known me a long time don't know what to say, they treat me weird and act strange about the fact that I am disabled. I don't understand their reactions...I don't know if they are put off, angry, disgusted, confused about what to say, feel that we no longer really have anything in common or what their impression is. I have had people tell me that "you have to keep trying" and "I hate that you have lost your initiative." I think if I said that I took an early retirement for health reasons that the reaction would be a little different. I hope that it would be more positive and less condemning. I don't like feeling judged. I can tell you that being judged and a agency's refusal to offer reasonable accommodation under the ADA are what led to the total meltdown that ended in my "early retirement for health reasons." In the judging part it wasn't that the agency didn't believe me about my health issues. They believed me all right and they didn't want to work with me to provide reasonable accommodation, they wanted me out the door. Yes, I am still angry as all get out. The anniversary of that event is coming up. It will be March 5th. On that date it will be 15 years since I was literally pushed into an early retirement for health reasons. You'd think after all of that time I would have made peace with this situation but I haven't because you see...I do "keep trying" and I haven't "lost my initiative" but when you become totally disabled you really cannot "pull yourself up by your bootstraps." Some days it is hard to function at all. Just the movements to get out of bed can be overwhelming, excruciatingly painful and beyond difficult. Let me tell you when you are suffering from massive depression and in severe pain that you have to have a lot of initiative to get out of bed or your chair or off your couch and do something anything just to keep going. Some days it takes a lot of grit and moxie to wash the dishes, fix a meal and get your teeth brushed. It is a true victory that deserves the theme from "Rocky" playing in the background. Until you have been there please don't judge me for having to take an early retirement for health reasons.

I worked my entire adult life with my disabilities. Yes, that's right the entire time I was working I was fighting my disabilities to not only work but to rear a child by myself. Also, from late 1983 until March 5, 1998 I worked grueling jobs that often had me working 60 to 100 hours a week every week. I was on call day in and day out. I worked from my hospital bed two days after my hysterectomy because the agency I worked for at the time decided that it MUST have my input because my boss couldn't handle the stress from having to do my job too so I only got two days off when I had a total hysterectomy and that was because I had an adverse reaction to the anesthetic and the pain medication so I was totally incoherent. If I had been able to take over my job responsibilities the day of my hysterectomy I am sure that I would have been "staffing cases" (social work term) with my staff the day of my hysterectomy. I actually think that my boss was angry that I could not do this. Yes, I really do.

So you see, I have never been a slacker. In addition to having more than full time jobs I also worked other jobs during those same years in addition to my more than full time jobs. I was on call 24 hours a day from August 1981 until March 5, 1998 with only about six weeks off (cobbled together) during that entire time. Sixteen and a half years of responding to the beeper and telephone 24 hours a day will wear a healthy person to a nub. Please try doing this with multiple disabling conditions while working a more than full time job, sometimes having yet another job and being on call every minute of the day 24/7/365. Yes, I have initiative. It has never, ever gone away. I have tried to be able to go back to work since my early retirement for health reasons but when it is a challenge on more days than not to achieve the most minimal of activities of daily living (another social work/occupational therapy type term) then being able to work becomes out of the question. I have to remind myself that there are good reasons that I am disabled. I hate it. It is a term filled with shame because people are very judgmental about those who are disabled. I don't have any money to speak of. I live on a fixed income. I don't pay income taxes most of the time because my only income is my disability check. Gasp, let me repeat that. I don't pay income taxes most of the time because I live on my small disability check. That means I am essentially a non-person...I don't produce. I am one of the 47% that Mitt Romney doesn't care about because I "wouldn't vote for him anyway." I don't count. I just take up space. That is the message that I get on a daily basis from society. Every day I am reminded that I am nothing because I took an early retirement for health reasons. The fact that I totally ruined my already fragile health working my fanny off for several years while rearing a child alone doesn't count. All anyone sees is today. Today I am in so much pain that it woke me up from my troubled sleep. Today I can barely type because the arthritis and neuropathy in my hands is so excruciating that movement is difficult. Yes, I soldier on. I do what I can to be a productive citizen. I offer support, encouragement and love to others. I treat those I know with unconditional positive regard. I may have been forced into an early retirement for health reasons but I still have the heart, soul and mind of a psychotherapist/case manager/social worker. I try not to miss the opportunity to be of service to others in any way that I can. That is my mission in life to be of service to others. I do what I can, when I can. I have never given up. I have initiative and lots of moxie. I pull on those bootstraps with all that I have to get through another day and to provide whatever encouragement, succor, support and inspiration I can to those I come in contact with. By doing so I provide a service...that is what I do, that is who I am. I am more than my disabilities (yes, plural) I am a strong, caring person with a giving heart and soul. I reach out. I care. I offer message of support, faith and hope. I pray. It may not seem like much to you but it is my gift to those that I come across. I do this every day because I care...totally and freely. I give a damn. That has been my motto since I first heard it around 1971, "I give a damn." I have lived that sentiment ever since in a world filled with apathy. I care.

So there you have it. I took an early retirement for health reasons. I have multiple disabling conditions. My life is a struggle and yet I fight every day to make it the best day I can possibly have. I believe in the power of love and unconditional positive regard. I offer warmth, empathy and genuineness to those I encounter. I care about others and in my lifelong mission of service to others I try to give as much as I can to the world around me. I am "more than the sum of my parts." I am more than my disabilities. I am me. I respect you and I deserve your respect because I am a productive member of society. I may not be able to go out and earn a paycheck but I can offer moral support to those I encounter from the checkers and baggers at the grocery store, to the person I pass on the street, to the guy who works at the post office and everyone I meet in the virtual world. The web connects me to many people and multiple opportunities to be of service, so I take advantage of the gift of the web to reach out with a smile, a hug, a prayer or a kind word. I contribute every day. I try to never miss an opportunity to do so. That is my vocation. I give of myself. Please don't despise and ridicule me. I count. I am a person. I do what I can, when I can and as I can.

I think I have said all that I can say. I fear that I am repeating myself. I will sign off.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 22nd, 2013 07:25 pm (UTC)
Dear Friend:
Your wonderful blog touched so clearly on so many levels for me. I absolutely understand where you stand as I stand there next to you. You are an inspiration to all who know you and have your "positive regard" to support them in their hours of pain of any sort.

This country that we live in is a quagmire of disregard and disrespect of every sort at every level. No matter whether you live in a tiny town or a HUGE city, it seems to all be the same. Trust me it is NOT You; it is Them. I know you KNOW that but it hard to take the abuse and why should you? I do not and have the scars to prove it. Keep on keepin' on..we love you, appreciate you, and need your kind words no matter where we are relative to time and space.
Feb. 24th, 2013 12:21 am (UTC)
You have inspired and amazed me for as long as I have known you. Those other people don't count for a hill o' beans. Shame on them for being so judgmental!

Mer xoxox
Feb. 24th, 2013 12:58 am (UTC)
I tried to leave a comment but I think I got carried away with the message "Comment Posted" and moved to update my own LJ before my comment actually took.

Ardee, you have inspired and helped and amazed me ever since I've known you. You still do.

Do you remember the Latin for "Don't Let The Bastards Get You Down"? I don't either. But really, don't let them. They should be ashamed of themselves for judging you. Truly.
Feb. 24th, 2013 01:23 am (UTC)
Noli nothis permittere te terere...
That is one of the translations anyway! Google is my friend...lol!!!

Thanks Mer!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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