Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Being Sick on Vacation and Streamlining My Obligations

You guys. I mentioned yesterday that I was quite sick during the beginning of my trip to Florida last week, but that doesn't even begin to describe how awful it was. I seriously don't ever remember being that miserably sick for such an extended period in my life.

When my mom saw this picture on Facebook her reaction was "Oh honey, I can tell you don't feel well in this picture." Ouch!
I started feeling bad at the beginning of the week but figured I had caught whatever cold was going around the boy's house. Wednesday I woke up with such a bad headache that I took my first sick day since I started at Arlington Home Interiors in April. I dragged myself to school and left early because I felt so awful, went home and promptly fell asleep at 6:30 pm. The next morning I woke up feeling worse, and to make things more painful, it seemed that none of my over-the-counter drugs were helping. My usual go-to for headaches, Ibuprofen, was useless. Finally I found that Exedrin worked a little bit. Since I was leaving in the morning for Florida, I went to the doctor to see if they could figure out my ailment and give me something, anything, to make me feel better.

The LPN I saw diagnosed me with a sinus infection and gave me meds. I went to bed hoping I'd start to feel better, but instead I was up almost hourly throwing up (should have warned you that this is a gross story). Friday around 5:00 am I called Kyle and told him I wasn't sure I was going to make our flight to Florida, but by some miracle I mustered the strength to shower and get myself out the door. I felt so miserable by the time we got to the airport that the first thing I did when we arrived was puke in a trashcan. Like a small child. I seriously don't think I've done that since I was about eight. Once we made it through airport security and to our gate, I basically just sat at a table and cried while the boy tried his best to get me to eat something so that I could take some more Exedrin to feel better. Half of a smoothie seemed to do the trick, and I was feeling well enough to eat a whole bagel (whoa craziness) by the time we touched down to catch our connecting flight in Atlanta.

At some point on our drive from the airport to our hotel in Rosemary Beach, the Exedrin started to wear off and I went back to the dark place. I got sick again right before we got to the hotel (so close!), and after not-so-discretely disposing of that in the fancy hotel lobby trashcan, I took another Exedrin, and laid down for a quick nap so that I could hopefully have a little time to feel better before the Friday night pre-wedding festivities. When I think about how terrible I felt at points on Friday, I'm amazed that I was lucky enough to rally for anything that evening, let alone a nice cocktail party (sans-alcohol for me) involving a LBD and heals. As I was getting ready for the cocktail party the boy noticed a small rash running along the right side of my back around to my ribs. I didn't think much of it--probably connected to my mystery sickness, but nothing major.

Friday night into Saturday morning I was again in excruciating pain. I woke up and puked throughout the night and the headache I had was unrelenting. By the time the sun came up Saturday morning I knew I needed help. The sinus meds weren't helping at all, and if anything I felt worse than I did when I walked into the doctor's office on Thursday. Instead of walking around Rosemary Beach and enjoying the town on Saturday morning, the boy and I headed to an urgent care clinic in Panama City Beach.

By the time the doctor saw me I was starting to feel better thanks to my good ol' Exedrin. I told her how I had had a miserable headache for five days, that I felt achey, nauseous, and that nothing seemed to be helping. And oh yeah, this weird rash popped up on my back yesterday. That little rash that I thought nothing of was the key to my misery. The second she saw it, I had my diagnosis. "Those are definitely shingles," she said.

Shingles?! What am I, 65?! A little blood work and one trip to Publix later, I had my prescription painkiller, nausea meds, and the precious anti-viral meds that were going to make me feel so much better by the next day. I ended up missing the wedding ceremony of our friends, but I managed to make it to the reception.

Shingles is a re-activation of the chickenpox virus that causes deep nerve pain and a myriad of other symptoms, including the notable shingles rash that tends to run in a line around one side of your mid-section, and the migraine and nausea that I was experiencing. Shingles are pretty uncommon amongst young people, and they only emerge when your immune system is weakened for some reason. The lab looked at my blood work to make sure I didn't have something else lurking like Lyme disease that was weakening my immune system, but everything came back clean. So this is where the scary reality comes in: I probably got shingles because of the insanely high stress levels I've experienced lately.

When I think about it objectively, my life is no more chaotic than a lot of other people's lives, and I only have myself to worry about as opposed to a whole family. So this was partly my body's way of saying I best get my anxiety level in check. But natural anxiety levels aside, this is my own fault. I have been operating under a "Say yes and figure it out later" mentality for the past six months, and it finally caught up with me. With working my day job, completing my homework, picking, painting, and setting up my space at the barn, and trying to find time to spend with friends and loved ones, I have been a mess. I thought I could handle it, but having my decisions actually affect my health in such an obvious, painful way was a real wake up call for me. I can't believe I made myself that miserably sick and nearly ruined part of what was supposed to be a nice vacation for the boy and me. I can't keep this up. Something has to go.

Friends, I'm sad to announce that this weekend's December sale at Sweet Clover is going to be my last. My job is a must and school is a must, but the barn is the one thing on my list that isn't a necessity. As much as I love picking and working on furniture, knowing that I need to get a great dresser within the next week so that I can put something in the barn Saturday, even though I have class every night but Friday-Sunday and a project due Monday, stresses me out so much. Leaving the barn after a bad month where I hardly even made rent while living off my severely cut salary that I took to get a job in interior design stresses me out so much. Not ever having an entire weekend to dedicate to chores and schoolwork stresses me out so much. The reality is that I don't make much money at the barn, and that I can put lots of work into something with no guarantee that I'll see any profit from it--in fact, the only guarantee is that I'll spend money doing it. This is not a shock to me, I knew it going in, but I guess I didn't realize how much of a weight it would be on my shoulders.

Please please please know that this is by no means a knock against Sweet Clover. It is has wonderful business owners who work their tails off for the business and it's full of amazing stuff created and curated by very talented vendors. It's just that the nature of the handmade marketplace is that there's a lot of investment of time and money up front and a lot of uncertainty in the sales and profit. That's a little different than selling a service like interior design, where you have more certainty that you'll be paid for your time and your profit doesn't hinge upon you investing $X up front to buy and resell something.

If I had more time and if the boy and I had weekends to spend out in places like West Virginia and Pennsylvania I would expand my picking efforts and put another 6 months into this effort, but my reality is that I just can't. When I look at my various business opportunities, I realize that given my busy schedule and my limited resources, I'm probably wiser to provide a service than to try to buy and resell stuff. I'm not the first person to face this kind of a decision.

When I first realized I needed to let go of my space at Sweet Clover and perhaps my furniture refinishing obsession altogether, I was really bummed. I don't like to admit that I can't handle everything because I know there are so many intelligent women far more organized than I am who handle ten times what I do. But this is what will work for me, and the more I think about it, the more relieved I am. I can get off this merry-go-round of trying to find great stuff and painting it and hauling it and hoping and praying someone will buy it. I am ready to stop hoarding craft supplies and fabric and materials just incase I need something for the barn. I am ready to organize the wayward "stack" of magazines cascading from the side of my bed and to have clean underwear before I'm forced to wear my least favorite pair and to get my life in order.

The thing I'll miss most about being part of the Sweet Clover market is the very reason I got into it to begin with--the community. I have met great people there and I will miss seeing them on a regular basis and collaborating with them to make the business great. I will definitely keep in touch with those people and continue to shop at Sweet Clover, and I hope you will too!

Speaking of shopping, the good news for you is that my stuff will be on sale this weekend in an effort to get rid of as much of it as possible, so come get something if you like it! All the stuff in my booth with a red bow on it is on sale, and I've marked down lots of accessories too. Many other items will be on sale this weekend throughout the barn in an effort to clear out things that have been sitting for a couple months and make way for fresh, new pieces for the January sale, so it's a great time to come snag a deal. Hope to see you there!

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