It was really overnight, my Mum’s birthday on the 28th, for me it was a normal working day and late night shopping [9 to 9]. That evening I was the only visitor, friends and family had all been around during the day. After coffee I broke down, couldn’t take it anymore, the stress, the staff, the work, you name it all was too much for me.
The next day, Friday, I stayed home and two days later [for the first time] I called in sick at my insurers. Being self-employed you don’t do that often. I did try to get back to work the next Saturday, the most important day of the week, but turned back halfway. Days became weeks and weeks months…
September 24, a Monday, I had an appointment with my diabetes specialist, since I still didn’t feel well my Dad was with me. The specialist, who had not seen me before [that’s what you get at hospitals clinics, every 6 months a new specialist and you have to tell your ‘story’ again and again. In the mean time I’ve got the same doctor for years]. Next to hearing the story she asked why I walked on slippers, something I had been doing off and on for the past 10 months since my feet sometimes wouldn’t fit in my shoes anymore. She said I should make an appointment with the Neuro Ulcer department [NuPo], but in the mean time she made the contact. I could see them the next day at ten. That evening my Big Sis came to Amsterdam from Groningen, she would accompany me the next day.
That Tuesday, many pieces fell in their places, what was ailing me, next to the burnout, had a name; CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth. My right foot looked like Emmental cheese on the X-rays, more holes than bone and it was broken in five different places. My left looked the same but was not broken… yet. Six hours later we left the hospital, my right foot and leg in plaster and I had to come back the next week or earlier if complications would arise. I heard the breaking of my left foot a few months later, for the next two years I was weekly or every fortnight in new plaster. Being in plaster brought another thing to the surface, I couldn’t work. I couldn’t go up the stairs just to sit in the office, or going up front to serve customers while wearing a plaster boot. Also the message my NuPo specialists told me wasn’t the thing I wanted to hear, there could be a possibility I would never walk again. So self-employed in retail, which is a profession in which you stand and walk most of the time, and then a message like that… Uhmm.
My Dad started looking for buyers for the business, no-one was interested or when they were they didn’t call back. Mid November I had to make a tough decision, going on or closing down, and how to tell the staff. With pain in my heart I had to tell them I would be closing the shop by the end of February, the closing sale would start within a week. And then something happened I wasn’t expecting, one of the staff members asked if I could give him a week to see if he could turn things around. Within a week, things looked brighter, we would sell the business to him and his wife, but a slimmed down version of it. No closing sale just a normal sale which started on December 1st. In a way I gave away the business, but all creditors were paid including the Dutch IRS.
Now 10 years later I’m still in a stable phase 2, some bone has grown back but I still have to watch out that I won’t become a phase 3. It would mean wearing Bermuda shorts summer and winter because my legs have to be amputated below the knee. And phase 4… just think of six wooden planks, ‘nough said.
I’m glad to have a good income via social security and my insurance. I’m also glad to have wheels to go places, a family who did all the shopping those early months, I lost 30 kilo in those first few months. [I gained them back and more when the wheels arrived early March 2002]. I’m glad I’ve wonderful doctors in the diverse departments, people who really care about their patients. They’re there when I need them even at ungodly hours, and I’m there when they need me… for testing new products, research or being a subject while they’re teaching student doctors/nurses about CMT.
Okay, I miss something too, the contact with people, like in the old days our customers, agents, colleagues and certain friends. Friends who were in the long run not friends at all but users. Just to have something to do I started in 2003 as webmaster for “the Guild“, the Dutch Association of Tailors and Fashion schools. A year later I became the administrative secretary too. It was a way of getting back in touch with people from my line of work, fashion. And I could do most of it from home, behind the PC. Since September 2008 I only do the website and 3 times a year a flyer when there’s a convention. Also the contact with the Dutch Craft Council and our partners, FeetBag [Association of Designers and Makers of Shoes and Purses] and NHV [Dutch Hat Association] is a plus, you get to know new people in my small world. BTW, since 2001 I had/have a shoulder to cry on, not only my Big Sis, but my good friend Josh, a lay minister in Podunk, Indiana. Yes, a long distance shoulder, but a good one. [and I’m not religious, left the RC church eons ago]. I’ve come closer to my Little Sis over the past few years. With Little Bro the contact has always been good, but he has his own issues [mentally handicapped].
And then came this blog in January 2007, it had nothing to do with fashion but with losing weight. IMHO you can’t write about weight-loss every day, so other subjects slipped in, Architecture, Amsterdam, History and the Thursday Recipes. But in the mean time I got to know new blogger friends from around the world. Some I’ve met in person over the years, others are on my list to meet. People from Salem MA, Harrisburg PA, Lynbrook NY, Rehoboth DE, Phoenix AZ, just to name a few. I’m planning a vacation for 2012 in the US, but have to gain strength to do so [the wheelchair stays at home].
So this is my Short Story Longer, 10 years of being at home, but not by choice. Don’t get me wrong I have a great life, a loving family, a “lease dog” aka Julius, a small circle of friends nearby and others spread over the globe and no burnout anymore!