This I Believe

Anna - Falls Church, Virginia
Entered on May 22, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: setbacks, work

A Purpose Driven Life

I believe persistence is the road to a silver lining. I believe in getting back up when the chips are down, in looking for new angles and new approaches. After all, the more nos you get, the closer you are to a yes. I play the odds of probability. And I’m willing to risk all for a pursuit deemed worthy.

It hasn’t been easy for me, either. I was a sick kid and plagued with bouts of illness throughout my adult life. I’ve had my fill of hospital stays. For instance, there was the time in my 20s when infection from an undetected root canal gone wrong and chest tightening spasms led to a month long hospitalization. My medical insurance refused to pay in spite of prior assurances of pre-authorization from hospital staff.

Shortly thereafter, I took a job as a fitness instructor and salesperson where I managed to impale my left hand with a part from a jammed exercise machine. Time passed and within a year of starting a consulting business, I was back in the hospital again, this time with bleeding ulcers.

They say bad things happen in threes. I believe them. One day in my 30s, I received a phone call from my mom who just found out she had cancer. That call was followed by one from my husband, who informed me he had just quit his job. Subsequently within hours of the two calls, I received an unexpected visit from my boss who let me know the company was downsizing and my services were no longer needed.

The experience gave me time to spend with my Mom before she died two months later. It also gave me time to determine that my husband’s alcoholism had progressed beyond a point with which I could cope. It served as the impetus for a plan that culminated in divorce five years later.

The divorce process for childless couples in Virginia takes six months. It took me 16 months thanks to my attorney who was going through personal challenges herself at the time. The ordeal, further complicated by difficulties at work, took its toll and set into motion an autoimmune disease unfamiliar to most doctors. That happened four years ago. I’ve been unable to work for the last three years–left to fend for myself by doctors whose best efforts led to another doctor referral–about 40 all said and done.

The silver lining? There’s something settling in knowing you have a purpose driven life. The experience gave me the chance to get an eye-opening up-close-and-personal behind-the-scenes look at the workings of healthcare delivery in the U.S. Everywhere I turned, I met other patients in the same boat. My anger transformed into passion for encouraging change through a forum to improve communication between doctors and patients. Egos aside, there is consensus that neither is happy with our current system. Through this forum, I’m certain, will flow ideas for an ideal working environment. At least it’s a start.