My life before illness was fast-paced and hectic. I had so many different jobs since leaving school because I could never decide what I wanted my career to be. I’ve been a hairdresser (more a hair washer because I left before the cutting part of training started), a bank transfer processor, a manager, a lingerie consultant, a shop assistant, an event technician, a care worker, a massage therapist, a receptionist in a car garage and a skincare specialist/makeup artist. I started working at the hairdressers in my last year of school and would get paid £15 for doing a 15 hour shift on a Saturday. When I left school I did some extra days over the summer but decided hairdressing wasn’t for me and so started working at the bank. My mum worked at the bank too so we would travel there and back together. It was great! I loved the team I was a part of and managed to work my way up the ladder, eventually managing my own team. I even got chosen to represent the bank at the Money Awards in London. They paid for a dress, paid for my travel and accommodation, we enjoyed a very fancy sit down meal with cocktails and a chocolate fountain. It really was a great achievement for a 17 year old.
A few months later, I decided to try something else and left the bank to work in retail. You may think I’m crazy but I wanted to see what other opportunities were out there. After moving around with jobs, I started working as an event technician at a huge indoor arena. I loved working there. It was very physical work, very tiring and the days/nights were long but everyday was different. There were always new challenges, I got to work with different people all the time and I learnt so much. It was the best job ever! However, it was there that the problems with my legs became more apparent. I would limp a lot and struggle with walking but I always pushed through and carried on. It was also at the arena that a spotlight fell onto my arm. As I always would, I just carried on working despite the pain I was in. It is now thought that I actually broke my arm and it hadn’t healed correctly as I developed complex regional pain syndrome in that limb. It was my own fault for not getting it seen to and something I have to live with.
While still working there, I enrolled in a complementary therapy course to gain experience and a qualification in something completely different to what I had already done. I also wanted some extra income so I started working at a care home on a dementia and palliative care ward 5 nights a week. That was when my life was at its most hectic. I loved it! 2 jobs, full time at college and I still managed to fit in sleep, friends, family, my boyfriend and my step kids. I was in my element. I worked my arse off.
Though I still had pain in my legs and lower back, my doctor told me I had trapped nerves and to start running to ease the pain. I managed to fit that into my busy schedule aswell. I was really good at it. 10km runs became easy and enjoyable for me and I was always working to get my personal best improved. Life couldn’t have been better!
Eventually, I stopped working at the arena and pursued a career in holistic therapy instead. I got a job as a therapist for a well known skincare company but after offering me the job, they decided that my level 3 diploma wasn’t enough and that I needed my level 2 certificate as well. It makes no sense because level 3 is the higher qualification but I think it had something to do with insurance. Anyway, as I had already proved to be a good member of the sales team, they kept me on and I became a skincare specialist and make up artist instead. Little did I know that this would be my last job before I was “let go” due to ill health.
Although it was short lived, I gained a lot of experience, I met some life-long friends, I met my fiancé, Paul, I had some of the best days of my life, I made amazing memories and I have lots of stories to tell.
Hopefully, one day, I will be back out in the working world making more friends, more memories and gaining new experience. For now, my days are filled with visits to the doctor, hospital appointments, medications and trying to manage my illnesses. It’s not how I pictured my life, but these are the cards I’ve been dealt and I must play the game to the best of my ability.