Saturday, October 17, 2009

on the unstructured life

My Mom came to visit yesterday and asked: "so does it feel weird not going to work every day?"

"Weird? Not at all. It feels perfectly normal. Going to work every day felt weird."

So, it has been over two weeks since I left my position as director of academic and marketing publications at Bradley University. The decision was a heavy one that took much consideration.

One day in early August I woke up with a sore shoulder. As I sat at my computer at work, laboring over the seeming interminable, but unbelievably annual, catalog project, I felt increasingly uneasy. I couldn't get comfortable, squirmed and stretched, and eventually thought going to lunch could help. I came back to my desk with the usual soup and salad and tried to eat and work as I have done many other days. The food tasted awful, I felt sick, and dumped it in the trash. I continued to work until I realized that my neck was frozen. and I was in severe pain.

I went home. I'd fall asleep and all would be well.

But, every position I tried seemed more uncomfortable than the last. I called the doctor, who saw me that afternoon. Pain pills and muscle relaxants did nothing.

The next day I paced the house, called the doctor, tried to rest, got a new Rx, paced, and started to scream. That night, Andy said "I'm taking you to the ER." When I objected, he went to bed. Later that night, after rolling around on the floor in agony, I went upstairs, and said, "ok I'll go."

That led to 5 days in the hospital, the time it took before they were able to control my pain enough that I could withstand an MRI. Unfortunately it was inconclusive.

Well, after more procedures, and some very helpful epidural steroid injections, I am now experiencing a manageable level of pain. I decided, in the meantime, that sitting hunched over a computer in a state of stress was about the last way I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

I was thinking how many words get printed (on paper or online) in the English language every day. Someone has to write, proof, edit, and lay out those words. I can do all of that. So why not find resources that will allow me to do it on my own time? If I get into pain, I can stop.

A more unstructured life suits me. I wake up at 5:30 and feed the dogs and cats. The paper arrives. I read it and, with a feeling of great indulgence, complete the daily crossword. Then, I look at, one of my favorite Internet sites. I might stay up or I might go back to bed and sleep for another hour.

I do have the structure of PT and doctor appointments right now, but, Good Lord willing, that won't last forever. I can read, write, do freelance work, garden, clean, work on a house project, spend time with the dogs. Just anything at all.

The unstructured life is magnificent, although the income is lousy. With perseverance, however, I hope that will work out.

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