When he took disability leave at the end of 2013 we thought he’d never work again.
At that time, he was taking 6-8 hydromorphone painkillers a day, as well as a high dose of Methotrexate by injection weekly.
He had developed severe and disabling nausea that no one could diagnose.
Now, the pain and nausea are manageable and he is medication-free, except for a few Tylenol Arthritis a week.
That sounds dramatic, and it is, but there were many times during the past 28 months when his health didn’t seem to be improving at all. And times when it was definitely getting worse rather than better.
But all of his autoimmune symptoms have gradually improved, and he is now in better health than he has been in eight years.
Back to Work
We honestly weren’t sure how the back-to-work experiment would go.
When he initiated it, he was partially bluffing. His health was improving after an intensive yeast-busting protocol last fall, but he still wasn’t quite work material.
He was banking on continued recovery, and that once all the paperwork was done, he’d be ready.
He has competed his first week, and all signs indicate that he can keep it up.
Matthew was the quality manager for an aerospace company before he got sick. When his health started to decline, he switched to technical writing for the same company, as that was less stressful and he could work from home.
Now he’s going into the office for 6-hour days, and has been able to set his own schedule: 7am-1pm. His goal is to be at full-time hours within a month.
On his first day back, he was handed an urgent project to manage so he hasn’t wasted any time settling in!
How does it feel?
Matthew is elated. Getting back to work is such a tangible milestone in his recovery. He is enjoying the intellectual stimulation and his colleagues have gone out of their way to welcome him back.
What about for me?
It’s still sinking in. The past eight years have been incredibly hard.
I admit that I’m still wary. I’m waiting for the next crisis, because that’s what our life has been for a long time now: one crisis after another.
I don’t want to expect the worst, but right now it feels safer than relaxing.
But I am very open (very very open) to some stability, a bit of equilibrium, and the opportunity to begin to trust that maybe things will be okay.
Eight Long Years
Eight years ago, my 14-year old son was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The doctor who gave us the diagnosis told us that “the best-case scenario would be brain surgery”.
None of the doctors we consulted offered any recommendations for treatment. We were simply expected to wait for further testing to determine when his surgery would be scheduled.
In consultation with alternative health practitioners, my son began a demanding regime of non-pharmaceutical treatments and we launched a strict nutritional and lifestyle protocol.
He was scared enough to comply, but I had to manage everything and cajole him every step of the way. Cooking the food, doing the research, finding many thousands of dollars for his treatments (you know: all the mum stuff).
In less than a year, my son was given the all-clear. His tumour had resolved.
I was exhausted and in debt, but it had worked.
Just the Beginning
Once my son’s health crisis was over, Matthew’s health began to deteriorate. His crisis began with a severe flare of psoriatic arthritis and a series of bad reactions to pharmaceutical treatments that were prescribed in an attempt to manage the flare.
One of these reactions was Prednisone psychosis, which lasted for months, as it took a long time to reduce the dose of Prednisone.
For several months, he was in bed 18-20 hours a day and was hardly able to function at all.
That was in 2009. We’ve lived through a hundred other crises, large and small, since then.
My son’s dangerous rebellions throughout his teenage years as he worked through the trauma of his diagnosis and the murder of one his friends. The time Matthew’s fingernails were disintegrating from nail psoriasis and he genuinely wanted to die. My mum’s slow death from throat cancer.
I guess it’s understandable if I’m a little wary about relaxing. But all signs are good.
My children are all well.
If we do get a reprieve, if there isn’t another crisis around the corner, I think I will need to spend some time processing everything that has happened.
Thanks for sticking with me.