New chapter awaits…

Life has ups and downs, highs and lows, good days and the horrible bad days. I have been pondering over something for a long time but just really could not decide what to do for the best…..so let me tell you a bit of background…

I have always worked, since I left college at 18 I was a freelance illustrator for 2 years. Then I got a job in an IT company, then another IT job, then another one, oh and then another one! After IT I ran a design agency for a number of years. Then I had my beautiful twin girls, so life changed…ALOT!
An opportunity came up for me to take over a small baby gift business in 2011, I thought it was my perfect opportunity to try something new and also to practice my creative side.

But then I got ill, I had been having vestibular (balance) symptoms since 2009, but come 2011 I was getting pretty bad. I won’t go into the nitty gritty on this blog post, but if you are interested in a little story of how I became ill, please feel free to read my first ever blog here.

The gift business was called Corporate Baby, like with everything I get involved in I was committed 100%, I am a bit of a workaholic so I worked a lot on growing this lovely gift business. My twin girls were only 2.5 years old so running around like two little monkeys. So working was a bit tricky, but I did what I could in the hours that they were asleep or playing happily but mostly I worked every evening. I also worked weekends too, I was fully engaged in the business, so ambitious and wanting to grow it.

As the twins got older and my health got worse, things got tricky. However in true form I battled through, I did not want my disorders and symptoms to get in my way of work. In 2013 I was diagnosed with my second vestibular condition, why is it in life I have always had two of everything! Two goldfish, two cats, two vestibular disorders, 2 nerves gone in my inner ear, twin girls, two two two! Go figure??!

So I was not well at all, in 2013 I started VRT, I was using a walking stick most days, had two toddlers causing riot, numerous weekly hospital appointments, CBT therapy appointments and also this time I was still working the same hours, there was no stopping me! Despite professionals telling me that I had to reduce my workload I ignored them. Corporate Baby was my distraction, it helped me focus on something different rather then my symptoms. Whenever I felt really dizzy I would go and create a baby gift! It was great.

Fast forward a couple of years and we get to 2015. I had been in and out of relapses more times then pubs before I gave up drinking! I was put on new medication, it worked wonders, gave me a bit of my life back, yes I still relapsed but I was able to do more tasks then I did before. I started walking, alot! I got up to 22,000 steps a day, every day for weeks on end. I felt great. And yes I was still working all through this….I have no idea how I had time to do so many in a day! Although I did use my treadmill a lot!

Relapses came and went and in 2016 I decided to seek out a new diet plan, something that was maintainable, easy to manage. It was not like one of these boot camp quick fixes, it was a lifestyle change. I discovered the wonderful Danette May www.danettemay.com she taught me how to eat properly. I did already eat pretty healthy, I thought! But I was so wrong! So I was 100% focused on this new eating program and started up Pilates as part of it, and walked too. After 4 months focused I felt amazing. I was off medication too! I had finally found a combination that truly worked and more to the point I could maintain it going forward! Easy!

Easy mmmmmm until another invisible illness flared up. I had been experiencing some pain around ovulation and also on my period for about 2 years previous. I worked through it like you do! Did not think anything much was wrong….Until January 2016!! When the pain got unbearable, it was like a switch, by March I was bed bound, hardly able to move for 20 days with pain. It was horrific. It turned out to be severe Endometriosis, adhesions which were attached to everything pretty much and a large cyst on my left ovary.

I was so upset, I had battled so hard over the years to get better, finally I was seeing a glimpse of the old healthy me pre vestibular conditions. That good feeling lasted 4 months! The pain of the endometriosis etc made me relapse with my vestibular conditions, it was bound to be on the cards! I went in and out of relapses between the January and October, I got put on a list for an operation to sort my Endometriosis out. During all this time I was still working every day and some evenings.

Just before I had my operation I had a bad reaction to some painkiller medication for a rib pain, and bang my world fell apart once again. The reaction to these painkillers caused a massive relapse and I suffered repeated severe vertigo and dizziness for weeks on end. My anxiety had been really under control before that happened but it then sparked off a massive panic attack and my anxiety went through the roof! This was a week before my operation, I then got very ill with a chest infection and had numerous other issues as my immune system went very low. I really did wonder if they would operate with me not in good shape, but luckily they did.

The operation was a success, it took me a while to recover, much harder when you have such debilitating illnesses to recover quickly. I did get up and running again with work, too early some say but thats just me! come December I was feeling pretty good, my dizziness was just its constant 24/7 level but manageable, my vertigo had reduced, my headaches had gone, my anxiety was coming back down! Then mid December, I got very stressed with the sale of our flat, my husband was away for 10 days and I just simply had too much on, work, kids, house, flat sale etc. I had a big relapse and its taken me a couple of months to get out of it. I had developed a different type of vertigo, one which I am not used to, dizziness was bad, daily headache pain that cuts you in two! But despite all this I was still working…..although more from home so I could take more breaks from the computer.

I had been pondering for some time before 2018 that I needed to change my life, I needed to reduce things down, less commitments, something had to give. I had chatted to my consultant about the recent relapses and he, as usual was so helpful. So in the end I decided that the only thing that was going to make a big difference was my work commitment. I had to close the business, it was the only way that I could get time for me, time to concentrate on the treatment plan that I know works so well for me.

Closing a business is not a decision you take lightly. I pondered over the idea for some time. Plus it is not natural for me to want to give something up, I am a fully committed person. However what these illnesses have taught me is life is very precious, you have to live each day to the fullest. Working, dealing with chronic disorders, running a household, having twin girls and running a blog and support group to raise awareness and many other things besides is not an easy feat. I am surprised I lasted this long to be honest! Fighting right to the very end! What started to become very apparent is I really struggled working full time. Computer work is my main trigger for my disorders so I have to reduce that. Giving up my business will enable me to get more time to walk, do pilates and focus on my healthy eating, my magic formula!

The people I am close to that have taken the trouble to try and understand my disorders and the limitations and struggles I have on a daily basis, are the ones who have not questioned my decision at all. They have not asked ‘are you going to sell it on?’ ‘Are you going to come back to it in the future’ and many other things besides! This decision is not about money, I decided not to sell it on because of the complexities that comes with that (I seeked professional advice on that one!), I would have to spend a lot of time on the handover/transition to the take over company and I am simply not well enough to do so and it defeats the purpose. But the main thing is a personal aspect. I knew that if I sold it on, I would be continuously wondering about it, checking up on it, wondering what gifts they are doing, wondering how my clients are doing, are they spending the same etc etc. I would not be able to get closure or move on. It was the best decision in MY circumstances. Yes if you are a healthy individual and can manage all that then fine….but for me with 8 invisible disorders it was not an option. It is hard for people to understand this logic if they do not suffer from any of my conditions or have researched them in detail over time.

I decided for certain as soon as January came that I was going to close the business, using the Christmas break to reflect on my pending decision. I made the decision not to tell a soul, it was important that I kept it hush to respect my clients, some people do not understand why I had not told them, but I had my reasons and surely that is up to me! Also I knew that I would breakdown, if I spoke to anyone about it as its been very upsetting. So for two months I kept this secret, of course the people who worked for me knew….To be honest I had kind of brushed it under the carpet for two months, as I was trying to get out of my latest health relapse and concentrate on that. Also we put our house up for sale so I was rather busy getting it ready, it was a good distraction!

I knew the day would eventually come that I would tell the world that Corporate Baby would be no more! I suppose I really did not realise how much of an emotional impact it would have on me this week. I decided the day would be in early March. I told all my clients first out of respect, most of them had been with us since the company started in 2006, so loyal to the core. What I did not anticipate was the 100s of email replies I would get! Oh my goodness, what a mountain of amazing messages, well they set my tears off each time I got one, so heart warming. I knew we had a good reputation but I never knew quite how much we were loved. It is so lovely but at the same even more tough!

So there you have it. An end of an era. A new chapter awaits, plans…..well I know that I will have more time to dedicate to getting better and also my blog and raising awareness and supporting other sufferers through our group, which I am so passionate about. I would like to pursue a nutrition course and I would like to start my book. But mainly I want to spend more time with my family, so important to me. I lost many years of my children growing up, not being able to do many many things with them, enough is enough. Time to take back my life, I am not going to let it rob anymore of my quality time with them.

Many of you out there work and struggle with chronic illnesses. I don’t want you to read this and take it as a cue to give up your day job. I could have gone on working, of course I could, as that is just me, but I have made the brave decision to close it down in order that I can better my life. Also many of you have to work because you are financially dependant on your job. I am in a fortunate position that it will not be a financial strain for us.

The message I wanted to get out there is that you can make changes to your life to make things better. It could be to do with work, more exercise, change your eating habits, have another child, move abroad and many more things. Mine just happened to be work related.

If anyone has any questions they want to ask me about this blog, please feel free to comment below.

Thank you for reading!
Lara x

One Comment Add yours

  1. Diana B says:

    Thank you for sharing and helping me feel that I am not alone or the only one going through so many of the same things as you … add to it Menopause and a hysterectomy!! You go girl!! Self care is not selfish. We were made perfect, healthy and STRONG!!

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