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I Had to Choose My Health Over My Dream, and That's OK

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Since May I had been employed by Kings College Hospital as a Healthcare Support Worker. I was in my element and I loved it so much. I worked in the Fertility and Fetal medicine units and I adored every second I spent with each and every patient and my whole team. Everyday I would get up at 5:00 a.m., take a two-hour commute to the hospital, get into my uniform or get scrubbed into theater and work my bum off until 5:00 p.m. when my shift ended. It was hard, it was tiring, it was draining but it was fantastic. After around three weeks in the unit I could recall the protocols of each treatment cycle and identify everything on a scan picture. I found the place where I integrated so well and made so many friends. It was my dream and the step up to my career path.

But unfortunately, as I suppose you guessed, it couldn’t last. I started getting too drained and getting fibro flares more often. Not only that, but I started to show other signs of further issues. I couldn’t hack it. Doctor’s orders made me hand in my notice and leave as I was “unfit to work.” My unit and my team were so understanding (I suppose they had to be, we’re in the caring profession). They gave me a fantastic send-off full of presents and cake and as much as I was devastated that I wouldn’t be there anymore, I knew it was for the best.

At nearly 20 years of age, most people have their lives relatively on track. For me, that’s quite clearly not the case. I know what I want. I have aspirations and dreams that I thought I was on track to achieving. I wasn’t prepared for the realization that my goals were once again having to be put on hold for my health and my sanity.

My first instinct when I realized that I had to leave was to feel guilty. I kept thinking about how I wouldn’t be able to pay rent to my mum, I wouldn’t be able to save for a mortgage, I wouldn’t be able to take my boyfriend out, I wouldn’t be able to treat my little brother and I wouldn’t be able to be independent. I didn’t and still don’t want to be dependent on anyone, so all I felt was concentrated guilt. I went to my mum and boyfriend for advice and mostly approval on the situations. Luckily for me, they wanted what was best for me and knew that sticking it out for even longer would only be a detriment to me.

I knew deep down that the decision was for the best, as otherwise I would have worked my way into a hospital bed, but it didn’t make the transition any easier on me. I knew that my body was thankful for not being overworked and underpaid but I couldn’t help thinking that I was wrong for doing it. As much as I enjoy sitting and reading in my pajamas, I’m just not one of those people who can do nothing all day. I need routine. I have to feel useful and I have to feel like I’m earning whatever I get. Being out of work for the next couple of months is going to be very difficult but I know it will be better in the long run. Not only that, I don’t really have a choice.

I still find it hard to believe that this is the harsh reality. Even though you think you may be set on a path to something better, it is very likely that there will be hurdles and you will be knocked down along the way, but it’s OK.

You are not giving up but letting go for a little while. It’s not defeat but bravery to make the choice that is right for you. It doesn’t matter what your friends or family may think is right or wrong – the choice can only ever be made by the individual who’s living it. No matter what it is, your decision is valid and your decision is correct.

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Thinkstock photo via RossHelen.

Originally published: April 7, 2017
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