I thought I was doing very well for myself. My online business was thriving, I had a day job that gave me financial security, I had a new little home away from the student scene, I met up with friends fairly regularly. I felt like I was going in the right direction with my life.
With all the work I was doing, the back and shoulder pain I generally refused to acknowledge got worse. (It’s damage I got from overburdening my back and shoulder at an previous job behind a conveyor belt at the old distribution center.) At first I only had pain when I was working my day job in the office or sewing for hours at a time. Then the pain lingered on through the night. Then it seeped into my off-days, until there was barely a moment when I did not experience some level of pain. I did more yoga. I took more rest. I went on a month-long vacation, during which the pain blessedly dwindled away to nothing. Then I came home and first day back at the office, it was as bad as it was before my vacation.
Now I’m not a person to complain about pain. I have a high pain tolerance. I’ve almost never used painkillers for things like headaches or stomachaches, I just wait for them to pass. I’ve accidentally cut myself and didn’t even notice until I saw the blood dripping on the table. I’ve had six-hour tattoo sessions that I sat through so stoically, it threw off the tattoo artists.
But this, this was a different beast. Not just because my back and shoulder pain became so bad I felt like I was going to pass out in my chair on a regular basis, but because it was constant and seemingly never-ending. So in January I started seeing a physical therapist. After suffering this for four months. It got better, then it got worse again. Then it got better again, and worse again. I had started regularly going to the gym, which helped. Then in June, it seemed like it was only going to get better. I’d had several weeks in a row in which I’d barely had any pain.
And then it got worse again. Whole days strung together with pain kind of worse. I started a new massage therapy, which has been helping, like the other things had been helping. The masseuse told me not to expect any miracles. As long as I kept doing this kind of work, I would have pain. The physical therapist had told me something similar before.
So now we’re at the end of August. I’ve been doing my office job for over a year with constant cycles of pain. I’ve been putting in the absolute minimum effort with my business since January. I’ve long since realized that I can’t keep going like this. Something will have to change. I’ll probably have to quit either my job or my business. Or both, and do something else entirely. Something not in an office, not (too) physical, with a larger variety of tasks and more creativity. Preferably something with a salary comparable to my office job. And where I don’t have to deal too much with people.
I don’t know what it’s going to be yet. This gives me terrible anxiety on some days when all l can think is what am I going to do what am I going to do what am I going to do. On other days it’s strangely exhilarating, the possibility to do something else, something that could fit me better. I do think there’s a lesson in all of this, in that maybe I should be doing something different with my life. It’s important to look at these setbacks and see what you can learn from them.