I’m an ex and I’m lovin’ it!

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I used to be a lot of things. Busy. Book addict. Ireland lover. Passionate. College student… and perhaps a tad crazy also.

But then friends started saying that I was “slowly turning into a blonde”. Physical discrimination on the basis of hair colour aside, I felt they had a point. Concentration skills went from hero to zero. Walking from the couch to the fridge a massive undertaking. In tears in front of the staircase after work because I had to sleep for an hour before being able to scale its height.

In short: I knew I was ill.

It turned out I was ill.

I am still ill. Those friends now add scary adverbs like ‘seriously’ to ‘ill’ when they describe my condition.

Almost ten years to the day of diagnosis, and five years after retiring, I am now a permanent ex-library assistant and a permanent ex-Incident Coordinator. I loved both titles, jobs and challenges, but when each effort turned into Herculean tasks, it was time to become an ‘ex’.

Overall, early retirement has been a blessing. Mentally it can turn into a battle between wanting to do things, but being unable to physically. So what do you do with all this free time? Do you feel sorry for yourself? Or do you say, “I may have a neurodegenerative illness, but I simply won’t let it get me down!”

The only downside of being this positive? Others asked why I’m not negative about my illness, early retirement and so on!

To answer their questions why haven’t jumped off a high building yet when pain is chronic and often beyond normal? Relaxation and sleep, tenacity and loving life. Against all odds, early retirement really turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Being in bed and watching the ceiling 24/7 and seven days a week is not for me. Having a restless mind in a restless body, I went back to my first big love in life: books.

Reading turned into writing.

Writing turned into advocating and lobbying, annoying those in government to push for reform or set up badly needed neurological services in Ireland.

Advocating lead to more writing once again, but this time for others. It’ll never make me rich, but I knew I was on the right track, with brainstorming sessions at MS society meetings and conferences. I may sound like a broken record, but speaking up for those who don’t have a voice is infinitely more rewarding than any paid job I ever had.

It might just as well turn out that I cannot change to newer medication, but being permanently retired is not a drama anymore. After all, I can now jump in bed whenever I feel I need to, something I couldn’t do while still employed, and when I feel pain is increasing again, I jump in that very same bed again.

A new chapter in my life is now taking place inside my mind, as a book is slowly being written in my head. It might take years before being published, but who knows…

Until then, I am just a happy ex of sorts.


©Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Quirky, tenacious and neurologically compromised female expat living in Ireland since 2002 ◾ MyTherapyApp Best MS Blog for Simplicity 2018 ◾ Everyday Health Top 10 MS Blog of 2018 ◾ WEGO Health Patient Leader Award Nominee 2018 ◾ Feedspot Top 50 MS Blog 2017, 2018 ◾ Ireland Blog Award Finalist 2014, 2015, 2017 & Shortlisted 2018 (competition ongoing) ◾ Contributor to the Novartis MS blog Living Like You ◾ Contributor to MS Ireland’s blog MS & Me ◾ Contributor to The Mighty ◾ Guest contributor to MyTherapyApp.com

11 thoughts on “I’m an ex and I’m lovin’ it!

  1. As a fellow early retiree because of disability, I appreciate this, all of it. No, I love it. I find myself still speaking with people as if I am in an in-between state, as if I am awaiting the next opportunity. I am IN the next opportunity. I am my opportunity. Hence all my writing …

    1. Totally, totally understand your view, Mark. I still speak like this also, but then people remind me of that illness that made me retire and I’m back in reality.

      Writing definitely helps, it should be a prescribed compulsory therapy for ill people :D

      Also, thank you for liking my posts, you’re a great follower!

  2. I do enjoy your style of writing..and I know at some point I will be retiring from mainstream labour as well. I seem to have more chronic pain from muscle spasms or nerve pain…and more rest would probably be beneficial.

    1. Thanks Sarah, I’m glad you find something in here that can help every so often.

      It’s a totally different lifestyle now. No more being afraid of new relapses, no more wondering what my employer thinks or what appointments you will need to cancel because of work etc etc. It’s one of things people say, “I wished I’d have known/done so sooner!” Good luck either way and I do hope you can stay employed a bit longer, but if you feel you’re getting worse…. retirement is not a bad thing.

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