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All That I Am - Part 8

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(cont. from Part 7)


Scleroderma, what a strange word for what seems like no ordinary condition, or at least one I should be worried about. It didn't seem to me like a chronic illness, indeed, as it was explained to me, I had in the back of my mind -- hard skin? Well, it was something like that but nothing you could treat with a corn plaster or a tube of moisturising cream! To think that I had an uncurable illness never crossed my mind. I thought it was just a stupid word for a stupid kind of condition.

It's a Greek word my doctor told me. Well, I love Greece so I may as well develop something of that nature. I never took it seriously until it got serious with me.


In spite of having pneumonia and then developing a pleural effusion almost 6 months later, I never connected the two. I went on to develop Asthma and ended up on inhalers. My working life was becoming much more difficult and I ended my long association with my employer with sadness, but with a degree of necessity.

I spent a lonely, boring and useless 12 months at home. With my daughter now at primary school, my days were long and uneventful. I was near breaking point when I took the decision to work for myself and start a business doing the only thing I knew best -- print finishing!


I started in a small room based on a pilot scheme which was funded by local government. I never anticipated any success but it got me out of the house for 7 hours each day and the work began to filter in, albeit slow. This was suppose to be a hobby kind of job not a busy workshop but that's how it went! Soon I was employing several staff and moving premises and the result was a thriving business with little old me at the helm. I was working day and night, had a cellphone permanently stuck to my ear and tax invoices and wage bills spread all over the dinner table at home. I was attending meetings with customers, dealing with the most arrogant of people and running a family home as well. I simply didn't have time to be ill -- It wasn't meant to be this way. I was supposed to be taking things easy and making my life useful instead of moping at home -- so why did scleroderma always get in the way?


I'd be okay for months and then like a bolt from the blue -- I'd become ill. The wintertime was worst. My fingers would cease at the very touch of a cold box and then I'd get the most awful cold that would linger for weeks. My breathing would become laboured, my strength would drain and I'd feel terrible. My stomach was also becoming more of an issue. I was beginning to suffer vicious bouts of heartburn after eating any kind of meal and I swear my employees all thought I had an eating disorder, I spent so much time in the bathroom trying to make myself vomit, that my staff made excuses for me when the phone rang. Truth was I did have an eating disorder but it was more a physical condition than mental. All this to cope with and a business as well was taking toll on my life and that of my family.


I'd had many good times during what became seven long years in business but the end came when I could carry on no longer. I look back many times and laugh at some of the things that happened and cringe at some of the things that made me so annoyed at times. The good times far outweighed the bad and I miss my business so much and then I don't -- it's a swings and roundabout thing. At least I can say I've been there and done it.


I was in my mid thirties and up to now I haven't mentioned the more embarrasing moments of my life. I've mentioned my business and my day-to-day living but not the things we only talk about behind closed doors. I had a secret that no one ever knew about and it involved numerous trips to hospital for myself and my hubby. We had the most gorgeous little girl. She was concieved naturally in 1991, I'm not going to lie and I will say it took time. I did the ovulating monitor thing -- got my hubby leaving work early and going to bed with the watch -- legs high on pillows and resting flat on my back for half an hour after. I have to be embarrasingly honest about this as I believe this subject needs respectful discussion. 19 months later we had our little bundle of joy -- worth the wait and every bit making our life complete. There was just one thing though -- we wanted more kids. This is now the part of my life I began to hate the most.

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