I’m a 41 year old Londoner, wife, mother of two and ex-TV Producer. Ex because I can’t work, well not in the conventional sense; my health has drawn a deep, dark line in the sand and said “No”
Three years ago I experienced a bout of vertigo on a flight to Barcelona. I spent the whole journey lying on my four year old daughter’s lap, intermittently vomiting into one sick bag after another. Weeks later, back at home, I was diagnosed with a progressive and chronic inner ear disorder. Fast forward to today and I have lost half of the hearing in my left ear, I have tinnitus in both ears and experience frequent bouts of chronic vertigo and unsteadiness. I have a constant feeling of being pushed around as if I am inside a boxing ring with an invisible boxer. Some days, as I walk my kids to school, the pavements feel like mogul fields, other days they are kinder and just offer up a little jig.
I’ve taken TV jobs since my diagnosis, but in the last four months the symptoms have become so pronounced that it’s been impossible to work. From where I’m sat now, the prospect of returning to 12 hours a day inside an edit suite with tight deadlines and demanding bosses would be like trying to climb an impossibly high mountain. Best case … I drag my way to the top and deliver a programme, worst case …. I aggravate my health and launch myself headlong into another four months of hell.
So here I am at home, on my own. My youngest has just started school. My husband is at work. My friends are at work. My sister and best friend is raising her kids 200 miles away in Cornwall. I’m doing everything in my power to pull myself out of this latest relapse (daily yoga and running, diet overhaul; eating tonnes of veggies, ditching sugar as well as taking all the medicines, supplements and steroid injections through my ear drum that the doctors are throwing at me).
But what do I do with myself?!
I figure there are two ways ways to look at my situation.
- I can let the green-eyed monster consume me. Why can’t I go out to work and earn a living like my friends do? Why can’t I hear as well as I used to? Why do I have to listen to this constant screeching in my ears? Why do I spend so much of my bloody time travelling to and from appointments at which medical professionals don’t seem to be able to do anything to help me?
- Option Two. I can cast all that crap and baggage aside and see things differently. Was TV ever all that satisfying? Honest answer no (although I did like the money). Do I miss the commute? No. Would I want a job that leaves me with less time with my gorgeous kids? No. Have I daydreamed before about doing something different without ever knowing what it actually is? Yes, a million times.
Well here I am. The clock starts now. In a cack-handed (and not to be wished on anyone) kind of way, my illness has handed me something really precious. It’s in fact an opportunity to whip the cloth, and all the accumulated crap, off the table and start afresh. I can do anything I want. I can reinvent myself. It’s an opportunity to create something that works for me. For my family. For my health and my happiness.
Now I’ve just got to figure out what the fuck that is! And that’s where I’m hoping this blog will come in.
So I’ve decided to send this first blog post out to my closest friends and family and ask two questions:
- What would you do if you were in my shoes?
- Knowing me, what do you think I should do? What do you think I’d be good at?