NO MORE WORK...or Why I Decided to Not Go Back To Work

written July 3, 2014

I did it.  I decided to stay on disability and not go back to work before my surgery.  Now that I’m on the other side of the decision, it feels like a weight has been lifted.  I’m not sure why that became such a stressful choice for me.  I knew what I wanted to do, but for some reason I felt torn about making the decision.  I actually like working – I’m over being an assistant editor, but I know I still have a few more years of that before someone will trust me to be an editor (although there are a couple Associate Producers I know who will probably never hire me as an editor – I’m too valuable as an assistant.  I even had one tell me that.  Crazy!)

So now I’m on the disability wagon until January.  Well, if the state ever approves my application.  I applied on June 3, today is July 3 and the website says they’re still waiting for the physician’s form.  Who knows how long it will be before they approve it, assuming they will.  My nephrologist says end-stage renal disease is a sure-fire approval, but since we’re dealing with the state, I’m not convinced.

I had a patient care meeting at the dialysis center today and the doctor in attendance told me I should go back to work.  Full-time.  He thinks it would be good for me.  But I told him I can’t work the hours my job requires – usually 9 or 10 hours on a ‘normal’ day and 12-14 hours whenever a show is in production.  I currently don’t have the energy to make it through that.  If someone wants me to come in to an office and only work for 6 or 7 hours, knowing that there will be times that I just need to sit on a couch, or lay down and rest for a little while, I could probably do that job.  But I’m also a workaholic, and a perfectionist when it comes to my job.  Which means there is absolutely no way I could do my job in less time than what it normally requires.  I would feel guilty.

And let me tell you, avoiding the guilt is a really good course of action.  I’m still trying to deal with the shame of staying home because I can’t survive on my own any longer.  I know that’s still such a stupid thing to think.  Why should I feel shame about this whole thing?  And why feel guilty about not going to work?  Or going to work?

In some ways this is a blessing – it means I can step out of my “normal” life and hopefully figure things out before I get the new kidney.  Something tells me there’s going to be some guilt about that after the transplant is finished.  Guilt about taking one of my wife’s kidneys, guilt about being healthy if she happens to get sick (please don’t ever let that happen), guilt about not being able to spend quality time with the kids for the first three months after the surgery.  All little things, but when you sit down and think about all of them at the same time, they seem a bit overwhelming. 

Which is why the idea of going back to work was stressing me out so much.  I never realized how many little things go on every day of our lives.  We get so accustomed to dealing with them every day that once they’re no longer a concern, you realize how much daily stress you really have in your life.  Don’t get me wrong – I still get stressed on Mondays when the house is a mess after the weekend and I feel an urgency to get it cleaned before my wife or the kids come home (trust me when I say keeping a 3-bedroom house in order does require a good amount of daily work.  Daily work that neither I nor my wife ever did, because our jobs take up so much time.  So at least the house is clean most days now).  And on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays when I have to get up at 4:30 for dialysis.

Again, all little things.  Things I deal with on a day-to-day basis.  Because really, that’s the best way for me to live right now.  One day at a time.  There’s nothing better for me at this point then just taking each day as it comes.  And currently that means no work for me.