Back on the Job, after 4 Years of Disability

1SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
10/7/2010 5:19 AM   :  301 comments   :  24,183 Views

By Beth Donovan, ~INDYGIRL

I still remember my very last night of work before I went on total disability. It was much like the seemingly endless sea of nights before, except this time I knew in my heart I couldn’t go back. Sitting at my desk hurt so much because of my degenerating spine. My discs were herniated, my nerve bundles were pinched, and I had four hernias, suffered from fibromyalgia, and could barely walk, let alone drive. It was hard to concentrate on my work, because all I could think about was the pain. At the time, I weighed 460 pounds and barely fit behind the steering wheel of my car, which pushed on my hernias as I drove home in tears.

In September, after four years, I went back to work for the same company, now 139 pounds thinner. (That's my latest photo!) I still have many of the same issues, but they are easier to deal with because of my weight loss and medical assistance. It wasn’t an easy decision or an easy road to get here.

It took one hearing for the judge to find me disabled, and all of the official doctors only found more wrong with me than my doctors had found originally. I felt every visit to the doctor was an adventure in “Welcome to your new life! You now have _____ and it will never improve, but it will get worse over time.” Every doctor I saw urged me to have weight loss surgery, but I didn’t want it. I told them that I felt sick enough already and if anything else were to go wrong, I didn’t know if I could handle it.

I agreed to attend a few weight loss surgery meetings at the local hospital, where I became certain that weight loss surgery was not the cure for me. It is stomach surgery, not brain surgery. I am an emotional eater. The other emotional eaters there, who were post surgery, were no better off and complaining of being hungry after eating and having the same difficulties I was having. It became clear, that even after surgery, a diet had to be strictly followed, even more strictly than I had ever followed one before. A person could still want to eat after they were full and a person could still choose to eat the wrong foods and gain their weight back. Since I was already in the boat of needing to diet and cope with my emotions, I decided I would do it without the surgery. Doctors refused to treat my degenerative spine, my herniated discs, and perform other needed surgeries because of my weight. Apparently the only surgery they would do is weight loss surgery. Even then, they wanted to question whether I had the discipline to endure the plan.

I had to be willing to help myself to get out of my then bedridden state and reclaim my life. I wasn’t sure I had what it took, to tell you the truth. I have been dieting since I was a child, and I have never lost this kind of weight before. I’ve gone to many weight loss clinics and through many programs, bought all the latest books, taken the prescriptions, and still no long-term success or massive weight loss. My husband was sure I couldn’t do it and was very angry with me that I would not have the weight loss surgery, that he was sure would save my life.

I needed a plan I could do from home, since I could barely get out of bed. I turned to my computer and found SparkPeople. Usually a fitness plan would start out with me jumping in with both feet and all ablaze for thinness until one failure. Then I would lie on the proverbial floor berating myself and telling myself that I knew I couldn’t do it. This time started out differently though. I started by changing one thing with a SparkStreak. Then I changed one more in about a month when the first felt natural. I kept doing this until both the weight was falling off and my life was changing.

I started to dream again.

I had hope again after reading the book “The Spark” by Chris Downie. I realized that I had been selling myself too short and was capable of so much more. Then and there I decided that one day soon, I would go back to work part time. Eventually my goal is to have a full time career in customer service again. I love working with people on the phone. I’ve now made it back to part time work with my company. They wanted me back. The rest is just a matter of time and keeping my dreams alive.

It was scary deciding to go back to work. Could I do it? What about the pain? What if I can’t walk? What if I fall? Well, I did fall, my second day on the job. I couldn’t feel my legs and went down in the parking lot alone. I crawled between the cars and managed to hoist myself up using a car and my cane. Then I went inside and asked for a first aid kit and went on with my shift. I was in a lot of pain; I ended up going to the doctor with soft tissue damage. It actually is going to require a fourth visit and a specialist, because of the extent of my injuries. The point is two of my worse case scenarios happened and I dealt with them: I fell. The heavy duty pain came. I still worked my shift. This job was an achievement, a trophy for me and nothing would take that away.

If you have a dream, think of ways to make it happen. Take the baby steps needed to get there. It may take years, but it is very worth while. Baby steps give you time to stop and smell the roses along the way and adjust to the new life you are building. It isn’t easy creating a new life for yourself, so be kind to yourself like you would a good friend. Dream big, step small, and keep going.

What dreams have you achieved since losing weight and improving your health?


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Comments

  • 251
    You know, I think every patient considering weight loss surgery should be required to read your story before having it - so they realize there IS another way! I know two people who had it and they have tons of new issues now - one being they can only eat very small meals without getting sick. Your story is tremendously inspiring - thanks so much for sharing it!! - 7/3/2011   1:51:19 PM
  • 250
    Today is a day I will remember for the rest of my life. It feels like I met the side of me I lost years ago. The side that worked, was a good mother and wife, and had hope. The only side I see anymore is the person who can't cope with this never ending pain that keeps me in my bed. The person who is frustrated at the world because they can't fix me, so I have shut everyone out of my life. The person who spends all day feeling like such a burden to my family my only dream is I could let myself give up if I wouldn't hurt them more. If you can make this choice, and come through it as you have, maybe I can dream. Thank you for sharing this story, and reminding me I have choices. They are difficult, but I do have choices. That is more than I have allowed myself to consider for a very very long time. - 7/2/2011   6:09:25 PM
  • 249
    You are truly wonderful!!! - 7/1/2011   1:05:32 PM
  • 248
    Beautiful and inspiring story! Thank you so much for telling it!


    - 7/1/2011   9:23:29 AM
  • 247
    So proud of you! Keep up the awesome work. - 6/30/2011   11:45:59 AM
  • 246
    Beth I am sure that you do not relize how much you inspire others when you post your story here. I just happened to find this blog and it is one I needed to read. Thank you for sharing your story with others. May God Continue To Bless You - 6/26/2011   6:22:47 PM
  • 245
    You are an amazing women, how wonderful you shared that very important message with us. Find the strength within and do the work you will get there. May the rest of your journey be just as rewarding.
    - 6/25/2011   11:28:14 PM
  • 244
    Just awesome! I love your blog. - 6/24/2011   12:07:56 PM
  • 243
    You have done it again! An excellent blog! You should consider writing a book!
    Thanks for your encouragement!
    - 6/17/2011   7:54:31 PM
  • 242
    Hi Beth!! All I can say is WOW!!! You are such an inspiriation & I know that I can do this, too!!! Congrats on going back to work - woo hoo!!! - 6/12/2011   3:53:38 PM
  • 241
    I, too, chose not to have bypass surgery because it had to be on my stomach and not my brain, where the real problem lies. I'm still on my journey and have 55 lbs off. You are such an inspiration to me. - 6/7/2011   8:35:48 AM
  • OKILISA
    240
    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing that. I used to have a lot very heavy friends... they all had gastric bypass and I am the last of the "fat friends". I need to hear stories like yours that tell me that it can be done without surgery. Your story is more encouraging to me than you know. Thank you again. :) - 6/7/2011   3:47:44 AM
  • 239
    Thank you for sharing your amazing story! I too am on disability and I am hoping to return to work. You inspire me to go on with my baby steps because it can be done! - 5/30/2011   9:18:42 AM
  • 238
    I'm a counselor and work with alot of people with disability. It sure is good to hear about someone who worked so hard to return to work! - 5/28/2011   3:46:32 PM
  • SNOWYGIRL13
    237
    This is why I have a picture of a show horse jumping a fence. I take it obstacle by obstacle. Most of the time simply not giving up counts more for me than the ponds gone or the calories counted. - 3/26/2011   6:15:54 PM
  • 236
    Beth,

    So glad to hear you were able to go back to work. What an accomplishment.

    Congradulations

    Dianna DZ

    - 3/24/2011   12:51:05 PM
  • 235
    You are an inspiration, thank you - 3/24/2011   10:19:45 AM
  • 234
    You are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing!! - 3/23/2011   9:42:58 PM
  • DEBBYLOVESLIFE
    233
    my life is not so different from yours. At 335 LBS. I am finally learning to take each small step as an accomplishment and not beat myself up. I have lost 22 LBS in the last two months and your story gives me great hope. I wish you all the best in your journey. - 3/22/2011   10:46:11 PM
  • 232
    I've watched and been inspired by you for a long time. You are truly a heroine! - 3/19/2011   8:25:19 PM
  • 231
    I'm glad you made it back to work, and good for you on working your goals. - 3/15/2011   7:44:01 PM
  • 230
    I just want to thank you, for sharing not everyone understand pain. I had lost 30 pounds Feb 2010- 10/252010. i had sufferred a small accident 8/6/2010.Not working at the present time. I gain 20 of my weight back. I need to get back out and excises. The doctor say that i need operation. on my left shoulder. feeling down. You have giving me hope. good work - 2/28/2011   4:46:05 PM
  • 229
    What an inspiring story! You are a beautiful girl! Good Luck on your journey to your goal of a healthy life free of pain. Your ending sentence says it all! "Dream big, step small, and keep going." - 2/25/2011   12:09:50 PM
  • 228
    Good for you on your accomplishment. Keep going and you will hit your goal. I have a bad back also. I didn't start with as much to loose as you, and I already had back surgery. It did little to improve my problems. The only exercise (cardio) I can do without pain is a stationary bike but it is working. I do other exercise also but most of that is stretching. Again ,good luck on this journey. - 2/25/2011   9:07:16 AM
  • 227
    Do you know how incredible your story is? Thanks for not giving up on your goal and for sharing how sometimes a goal can happen, but not perfectly, and that it can still be one of the greatest achievements of all. - 2/15/2011   7:47:33 AM
  • 226
    Thank you for your story. I too have many of the same medical issues as you and this really hits home. - 2/14/2011   10:41:03 AM
  • 225
    Congratulation, it's a great blog. It gives me hope. Thanks for sharing - 2/14/2011   10:32:14 AM
  • 224
    Thank you. You a such an inspiration! - 2/2/2011   7:11:05 PM
  • 223
    Oh, Beth, you are such a trouper! I've read your other articles, too, and this one is even MORE inspiring. You definitely have what it takes to overcome and succeed!
    - 2/1/2011   3:26:43 PM
  • 222
    I enjoyed reading your blog It was very motivating.
    Congratulations on your accomplishment! - 2/1/2011   3:31:59 AM
  • 221
    Thank you so much for your courage and honesty. You are a true inspiration. I have been medically retired for over ten years, and wondering if this path will lead me back to work - you've helped me believe I can do it. - 1/28/2011   10:07:54 AM
  • 220
    Thank you for the inspiration! I KNOW my weight is affecting my mobility and severely slowing my recovery from knee revision surgery. To hear from someone with so many physical challenges who is making major changes through minor steps has inspired me to stop feeling sorry for myself and GET ON WITH IT! - 1/8/2011   5:18:53 AM
  • GWENAEL
    219
    You are the best! - 1/7/2011   3:26:52 PM
  • 218
    Thank you for inspiring all of us. - 1/5/2011   8:24:33 AM
  • 217
    I am so impressed. I go in every morning to work and wonder how I will make it through the day. Yesterday I did maybe a minute on my stair machine plus housework and cannot walk this morning. It's little things that add up to make your body say no. I think it's the same thing with our minds - the little thoughts that say "yes, you can" that make the difference. So, today I slowly work on getting my legs to respond so I can walk.

    You've come a long way and done so much, I know the frustration you felt when you fell. Determination to keep going is all it takes. No matter the circumstances, perservere. - 12/5/2010   11:28:32 AM
  • 216
    I totally agree with you about weight loss surgery not fixing the brain, and that since a person can eat without feeling hungry that an emotional eater is likely to do just that and put the weight back on. I have seen 3 people who had the surgery; 2 put all the weight back on, another was well on her way. The surgery doesn't cure life, feelings, or ways of handling things. In order to keep the weight off a person has to learn to change what is eating them, not try a 'shortcut' with surgery.

    Now there are times that I think the surgery (is) the way to go. There are people who just never get filled up no matter what, and the surgery ends that feeling. Actually, in those cases there is a biochemical reason for them never getting full, involving the ghrerlin system. And, the surgery corrects the imbalance in chemicals, by reducing the chemical (can't remember which one now) that stimulates appetite.

    But, I do believe that surgery will not do the job long term for an emotional eater.

    Oh, it was just on a show recently that now, instead of by-pass surgery, they do a 'buttonhole' surgery, and go in and cut out most of the stomach and close it up. They don't have to bypass or involve the intestines, just cut out a big section of the stomach. It's called "The Spider" stomach reduction. Interesting.

    Amber - 11/22/2010   9:04:50 PM
  • 215
    I totally agree with you about weight loss surgery not fixing the brain, and that since a person can eat without feeling hungry that an emotional eater is likely to do just that and put the weight back on. I have seen 3 people who had the surgery; 2 put all the weight back on, another was well on her way. The surgery doesn't cure life, feelings, or ways of handling things. In order to keep the weight off a person has to learn to change what is eating them, not try a 'shortcut' with surgery.

    Now there are times that I think the surgery (is) the way to go. There are people who just never get filled up no matter what, and the surgery ends that feeling. Actually, in those cases there is a biochemical reason for them never getting full, involving the ghrerlin system. And, the surgery corrects the imbalance in chemicals, by reducing the chemical (can't remember which one now) that stimulates appetite.

    But, I do believe that surgery will not do the job long term for an emotional eater.

    Oh, it was just on a show recently that now, instead of by-pass surgery, they do a 'buttonhole' surgery, and go in and cut out most of the stomach and close it up. They don't have to bypass or involve the intestines, just cut out a big section of the stomach. It's called "The Spider" stomach reduction. Interesting.

    Amber - 11/22/2010   8:55:18 PM
  • 214
    WoW!**You sure have come a long way!**Can I say"God is with you and He never left your side?Blessings shine on you and your family!
    God likes it when we try our best!Good going!You are very determined lady!
    Thanks for sharing your inspiring story ! - 11/11/2010   2:40:33 PM
  • WHITNEETHEYOGI
    213
    Thank you for sharing your amazing story. You've accomplished so much and i can only imagine how proud you must feel. Keep up the amazing work, you truely are an inspiration - 11/9/2010   11:16:09 AM
  • 212
    Beth! So glad I found your blog. Came here because of a link on another web site. Then saw you here and read more of your story. You are awesome and amazing. :-D You have proven that... It. Can. Be. Done. And that Baby Steps are more than just fine, they are Good. It means "Progress, Baby!" Thank you so much for sharing. --Lise
    - 10/28/2010   2:55:33 PM
  • GREEKGAL1
    211
    What a wonderful story. You can't imagine how many people you have inspired.
    Continued success on your journey. - 10/25/2010   8:42:18 AM
  • 210
    Wow thats awesome. You ve obviously accomplished a great deal - you deserve all the praise you get and more. I am still wating on my weight loss and other things in my life to imrove before I can even think about some of my dreams . - 10/16/2010   3:44:53 PM
  • 209
    Great story! Bravo for your perseverance through it all! - 10/15/2010   6:33:36 PM
  • 208
    Thank you so much for being such an inspiration. Great job! - 10/13/2010   10:04:25 PM
  • BLEST12
    207
    I can see why tyour company wanted you back, you are a very positive fighter. Your story was very inspiring. Congratulations and thanks for sharing.
    BTW..........God made your body to repair itself, keep up the good work :) - 10/13/2010   5:27:52 PM
  • 206
    I too am Medically Disabled, so I have an idea of how brave you are. I hope you don't mind but I'd like to share one of my favorite Bible verses. "...but He said to me;
    "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."
    IICor 12:9 I wish you continued success. - 10/12/2010   1:56:55 PM
  • 205
    What a inspirational story of grit and determination; you really must be a strong lady. Carry on; the world needs more folks with that intestinal fortitude....to share ! - 10/12/2010   9:24:16 AM
  • 204
    WOW! You are such an inspiration! I am truly impressed with your will and tenacity. I am a Newbie and your story has really touched me. - 10/11/2010   8:22:56 PM
  • PLNEEL
    203
    You are an inspiration - thank you for sharing your journey! - 10/11/2010   2:33:54 PM
  • MAPHIX74
    202
    Thank you so much for sharing your story! It is such a great source of inspiration! You are right! It is not easy to do permanent changes in our lives and instead of beating ourselves down for not achieving all of our goals, we need to treat ourselves with kindness. Congratulations on your HUGE achievements! Know you know for sure you can and will succeed.
    - 10/11/2010   1:25:18 PM

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