My Story: why I had to reinvent my career.
Life is never completely easy but, for some unlucky few, it often throws a life-changing event in the way. While many of us can get over a few scrapes and bruises, there are some injuries that change lives.
That’s the beginning of my story when I became 40.
Life begins at 40 right? That is what I was led to believe. Except for me, 1 month after my 40th I twinged my back which left me in pain. No big deal I hear you say, true it wasn’t then but in the space of 4 months, I had to take sick leave from my job at a school, rent a wheelchair as I could no longer walk, raise my pain medication until I no longer knew what day it was, become bedridden and finally have a back operation to relieve pressure on my nerves that was caused by a ruptured disc.
The operation renewed me, the pain disappeared immediately. I started the 6 months recovering with physiotherapy and I walked, I walked a lot!
At this point, I decided that I needed to reinvent my career for my health. I started a new business on the weekends. I started boarding dogs in my home and loved them like my own. I had always wanted that for my own dogs, I found it rewarding and it fitted in with my new health plan.
I threw myself into it. I designed my logo, made all my registration packs, researched legislation, procured a licence from the local council, started advertising using Instagram/Facebook. It became so successful that I was booked up for a whole year and I hadn’t even left my weekday job yet! So, yes, that’s right I quit my job as an HLTA ( higher level teaching assistant) and took more bookings. Life was great and I had overcome my back problem.
Remember how I said life is rarely easy. I decided to continue teaching until the end of the school year as I didn’t want to leave the children mid-year.
3 days before the end of the school year I bent over to fasten my walking boots when pain shot up my back. The pain was so extreme that I was instantly wet with sweat, I was alone in the house with 2 dogs and my mobile phone was further down the sofa. With all my strength and a lot of screaming, I grabbed my mobile and rang an ambulance. I felt I was going to pass out so I next rang a friend, I couldn’t speak properly so she just asked “Do you need me to come over now?” and through gritted teeth, I said “YES”.
Over the next 24 hours, my life was something from an episode of Holby City. My friend arrived, my husband (who was an hour away) was called, an ambulance arrived and I was taken to A & E. and every time I was moved I screamed blood-curdling screams. I lost the feeling in my legs and bladder and they pumped me with morphine so I no longer knew who I was. They gave me an MRI which showed that the disc I had an operation on the year before had drastically ruptured and was dangerously trapping nerves.
I had an emergency procedure done the very next morning and again I got my life back. The pain was gone instantly but the surgery had been more complicated due to its size and the scar tissue from the previous surgery.
I didn’t care, I was fixed. It was very rare to have to do a re-do of the operation and the surgeon had got it all. They said, “So it was very unlikely to happen again but look after your health and back.”
I found that inner drive once more and I got strong again, I kept my business going with the help of my husband and I pushed myself to be the best I could be. I studied and got a qualification in dog care and at my next inspection got the highest star rating I could achieve. I had to make some adjustments like no longer taking any breed of dog and allowing myself breaks but that was ok, I was still doing it and smashing it.
I had a brilliant 18 months when one day my toes started moving on their own, strange I know. Looking at your foot knowing that you are not actively moving it but your toes are doing independent jigs of each other then you know that something is not right. I was lucky as the timing was good, I was due to have a checkup with my specialist anyway, so off we went. Nods, chats about pain and the request for my 7th MRI in 3 years.
The short recap is that my disc had ruptured a 3rd time and I would need a 3rd operation. Remember how it was rare to have a 2nd operation? Well, it was unheard of to have a 3rd one and I was told it would be the last chance.
I was booked in for my operation but it was cancelled 2 times, while I was sat in the waiting room to have it done. I spent 6 months on pain medication, walking with crutches, using a mobility scooter to get about and lying flat on my back, I couldn’t drive or get out of my house without help. Finally, I had my operation and again my life returned though a little slower than the previous times. My nerve was slightly damaged so my foot turned inwards but the surgeons said it should heal when the bruising reduced.
So, I started again for the 3rd time but this time it was obvious I couldn’t continue with my business. I couldn’t walk as far as I used to or hold 4 dogs at once in case I was pulled and it jarred my back. I had to say goodbye to my dogs and my successful business.
6 weeks after my surgery, I noticed something different again, I couldn’t lift up my right foot. It was dragging along the floor as I walked. Back to the hospital, more tests and a week on the neurological ward and I was diagnosed with ‘drop foot’. After 3 operations, 1 steroid injection, physiotherapy I have been left with permanent nerve damage. I was officially labelled as ‘disabled’, so what was I going to do now?
This leads me to now and my 3rd career reinvention. It was during those challenging moments that I could have given up and just accepted my life and unemployment as it was. However, life is also full of opportunities and you can find inspiration in many ways.
I have found something new to love and be passionate about. Something that I am really good at and a career that I can continue to learn and improve on. I am using the skills I have learnt through my previous careers and life experience. I have always had a love of technology and social media so I have embraced this and gained new skills along the way. I want to help others have an easier life, be more productive and achieve their dreams by working with them.
This is why I created Bizzybee and why I became a remote personal assistant.
History is full of people accepting their injuries and like true champions – finding a way to achieve even more in the aftermath. So the lesson I learnt is, you don’t have to settle, you can just reinvent and start again. There are so many possibilities, go out and grab them.
Next week, Part 2 where we look at some steps you can take to reinvent your career.
Bizzybee, otherwise known as Erin, is a remote personal assistant based in Cheshire. She works with different kinds of businesses from small office-based businesses to solo entrepreneurs working from home. As a virtual assistant, she is able to work all over the united kingdom from her very own office.