I’ve been asked over the years what it was like to stop suddenly stop working.

I’d always been told that I’d know when it was time for me to stop working, stay home and deal with rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, positive lupus tests, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and a bunch of other syndromes whose only treatment known is rest.

working with chronic illness when you love your jobIt turned out I didn’t know, even with all the hints.

In 2006 I was more dead than alive. Over the summer I quit driving after I fell asleep at the wheel and wrecked my car. I was seeing my doctor at least every two weeks. I was getting an infusion of Remicade, methotrexate, Toradol and steroids that failed at treating the hellish mix of things I’d been fighting,

Each time I saw my rheumatologist he would ask how I was, how work was going. I’d always tell him about the trip I’d just returned from or the trip I had planned. I didn’t plan to quit just yet. I knew eventually I would have to slow down, I didn’t expect it to be so fast.

I didn’t know my husband was worried about me enough to work with my doctor on a way to make me realize I needed to leave my beloved job as an entertainment writer. He’d seen my blackouts, my ability to sleep nearly a solid weekend, the way I’d drag myself out of bed, throw on clothes and be driven to work.

Sept. 21, 2006 I was at my doctor’s appointment. My husband was with me. My doctor walked into the room, checked me out and then said something that changed my world.

“Sandi, you can quit your job today or you’ll be dead in three months.”

That got my attention and gave me a jolt of something I hadn’t felt in years.

Relief.

I didn’t have to get up, get dressed and go to work ever again. It was all right for me to stop working.

I called human resources at my company and told them I was coming in to sign all the papers I needed to go out on disability.

At the office, the HR person asked me if I wanted to go upstairs and tell them I was leaving. I did not.

I left the paper with a growing feeling that I had escaped, that I was free.

I went home and started sleeping without an alarm clock. I didn’t call anyone. I didn’t check my e-mail.

Though I didn’t die, my mother did, six weeks after I left the paper. I wrote her obituary, but I don’t remember anything about her funeral.

I didn’t get around to cleaning out my desk until late December. I went in on a Sunday night to ensure I’d be there alone. I still wasn’t ready to have anything to do with the paper or the people I had worked with.

I spent the next year sleeping a whole lot and letting my husband take care of me. I slowly came back to the land of the living, though it was 2008 before I wrote anything, and that was fine with me.

The rest began to take effect. I got to stop taking infusions, one by one, of each drug.  I didn’t need steroids to bolster my energy because I didn’t need the boost.

I began to be awake more. I enjoyed playing with my dogs, talking to my husband, catching up on all the time I’d been busy doing something else.

It was 2012 before CreakyJoints asked me to write a blog for them. I’m glad they asked. It’s given me something to look forward to, something I enjoy.