Nearing and fearing the end

Well, I had my laparoscopy and D&C Wednesday, and it wasn’t good. My obgyn did all that she could, and it wasn’t much, as what she discovered was far worse than we imagined.

Everything is stuck.

Particularly the left side. Bowel stuck to uterus, sigmoid colon not where it should be, kinda squished. Left ovary hidden and stuck and left tube is all involved in the mess as well. She tried to free things but it was beyond her scope and comfort level.

What this immediately explains though, are all the IBS troubles I have and while the spine seemed clear of adhesions, all the stickiness and pulling on the left side, just might be contributing to the pain issues on my right. Almost every time I go to physical therapy, my pelvis is shifted out of alignment and higher on the right. Go figure.

So the next step, should I choose to go there, is to see a specialist. If I want to preserve the shred of fertility I might have left, worst case is I might only lose my left ovary and tube, and hope that they can free my other organs. Might even require a bowel resection. Or we go the hysterectomy route and be done with it all.

Just like that.

One more surgery and it’s over. Final. No chance of ever bearing children. Part of me says just get it over with and the other part of me doesn’t want to let go, just like my left ovary.

In the meantime, I’m on a waiting list to try and see an orthopedic surgeon for my back, with an appointment next month. And an even longer wait to see the specialist, later in April. I think he’s even considered part of the RE group I went to, which makes me even more angry. Why would they put me thru four IVFs with my body all inflamed and twisted like this? Why wouldn’t they listen to me when I sensed my endo getting worse? Why didn’t they investigate every time they commented that they couldn’t find my left ovary during follicle counts? Why do they think IVF is the answer when it was so clearly wasn’t for me? But, according to my obgyn, the man was “born with a golden scope in his hand” so how could I not at least consult with him?

I’m pretty sure he’s going to take one look at me, my age, my history, and my messed up insides and declare I’m done. Maybe that’s what I need? Someone to finally say it for me?

Story of my life

So it was decided that I’d have a laparoscopy and D&C. My Gyn would avoid poking the ovaries and would search and get rid of as much endo as possible. If it was severe or in tricky areas, she’d call in a specialist. We were on the same page. She’d even try to get a look near my spine to see if there’s any connection at all with all my sciatic issues.

I was told I’d get a call Monday to schedule the surgery. Monday came and went. I called Tuesday afternoon and was told the scheduler was out and they didn’t see my paperwork anywhere. Of course. This is the kind of crap that happens every time I try to get ahead of my health. Or ahead in anything, really.

I finally got a call back Wednesday morning. Looks like getting the surgery done that week was out of the question and pushing it out much further than a week would really mess everything up. Not only for my cycle but the fact that my husband was on call for night shift next week meant that he could be there for me without taking a day off. Thankfully they took all that into consideration and scheduled me for the next Wednesday.

So it was on. A plan. I just had a week to go but between having a plan in place, along with some nicer weather and a time change, I was feeling pretty good about things. I went for a run outside – the second outdoor run within a week after a long winter with a few treadmill runs here and there. I felt a little clunky but that was to be expected. Afterward, I went to yoga like I usually do. I felt a little beat up but it was a good kind of push for me. The stretches felt good and the stress relief felt even better. I wanted to get a few more sessions in before I’d have to be sidelined for a week or more. And then I felt it. Or maybe I heard it. I can’t remember which, but, POP!  A funny little cracking sound during one of my stretches. Didn’t think anything of it and all in all I felt good.

The next night I babysat my niece and nephew and made the mistake of sitting on the floor to play a game. When I got up, I felt a little twingy in my low back, but nothing terrible. By the time I went to bed, I couldn’t get comfortable. And by the time I woke up the next morning, I couldn’t move. It took everything I had to get out of bed, complete with groans and cries. My entire low back was on fire.

I dragged myself to my preop appointment and they looked at me funny.  I said I did something to my back and was moving a little slowly today, but it seemed more than that. When I was reminded to stop taking medications between then and the surgery date, I immediately knew I was in for trouble. They told me to give Tylenol a try for my back but I knew that would be a huge waste of time.

By the next morning, it was worse. I did ice, heat, my TENS unit, stretches, even the Tylenol. Nothing was working. I pushed myself through the day, trying to find a way to be comfortable without much luck. Then this morning, I didn’t think I could feel any worse. I couldn’t take it anymore. I was ready to take some old Tylenol 3 that I found in the medicine cabinet from a previous surgery or maybe IVF failure…more likely that.

It hurt to do anything. To sit, to stand, to recline, to move. When I did move, it was awkward movements to compensate for the pain, only to create new pains for moving awkwardly. I just can’t win. I’m supposed to have surgery on Wednesday and I was ready to die from something else completely unrelated. So I went to the urgent care center to explain the situation and they decided to put me on percocet to get me through to Wednesday. They advised me to call my doctor tomorrow to let them know what’s going on, in case she wants to postpone the surgery.  I really hope not. I wanted to get it going so I could recover and get back to running, but HA!  That’s hilarious. I can’t even walk or stand up straight, so I guess it really doesn’t matter anymore.

So I will see what she wants to do. Hopefully we will keep everything as planned. Unfortunately, that means I’ll likely be taking tomorrow and Tuesday off from work since I am not allowed to drive on this medicine. Then, Wednesday surgery and Thursday-Friday recovery.

The next step after that is to go back to the pain management/sports med/ortho doctors. I may need to consult with an ortho surgeon because this is no way to live life. I really don’t want back surgery but I also can’t keep this up. I may never have children, but I will not give up on my need to be active. I just can’t be denied both.

More tomorrow…

Painful

I’ve forgotten just how painful it is to walk into an OBGyn office. There was one woman there when I arrived for my preop appointment Friday. Just one. And that was all I needed. She was perfectly positioned within my sight the second I entered the reception area. As soon as I opened the door, there she was rubbing her bump. Yay!

I checked in and sat down and it wasn’t long before another pregnant lady entered. I guess I should come to expect these things.  Then I noticed a very young and what I will assume unmarried couple as I didn’t see rings, checking out. Just listening to her talk you could tell she was young. Yep, pregnant. Unfair. I will pray for that baby.

So I was called in to one of the exam rooms and the nurse asked me a bunch of questions to get the info they needed for my surgery. When she asked the date of my last period, I had to think about it for a minute and eventually said “I think I’m on cycle day 10.” She was taken aback by that and said “You must have been going through fertility treatments. I don’t normally hear women say it that way.”  Yeah, I told her it’s been almost five years to the day and even though we aren’t exactly “trying” anymore, I guess it’s a habit that will never go away. I think I’ll always be counting. She apologized after asking if we were successful.

I talked to the doctor about the surgery and one of the first things I told her was how silly I felt sitting there because I actually felt great. I said I was in that “window” in my cycle where I’ll feel great but I know what’s coming. I explained everything that’s been happening each month, from the IBS flares, heavy bleeding, horrible cramping, even the weird leg pains I sometimes get that make me wonder if this “sciatica” is something related to endo.

She agreed that a lap would be the way to go for now after asking our thoughts on a “by some chance” pregnancy. I told her even though we’re not pursuing any treatments, we’d absolutely be thrilled if it were to still happen. I mentioned my fear of disturbing my ovaries and the last three eggs they probably contain. She said that she would steer clear of them and focus mainly on clearing the endo in other areas that are likely causing me pain. I told her I worry about the bowel because I have so many issues and even this back/sciatica thing makes me wonder if it’s endo. She said she will do her best but if she finds something tricky, she’ll call in a specialist. She’s also planning a D&C while she’s in there. I’m assuming this is to help with the heavy flow. I’ve never had one so I’m not sure what to expect. She said she does her surgeries on Wednesdays and that I should plan to take off work the rest of that week and that most feel up to going back to work on Monday but it’s really based on how I feel. Same with resuming activities like yoga, exercise, etc. She said it will all depend on how I’m feeling and how severe the endo treatment is. If it’s more severe than expected, she will adjust my recovery timeframe.

So all in all I’m feeling a lot better after talking to her. I still sometimes feel silly like I don’t need this surgery, but that didn’t last long. I finally felt up for a run with the weather cooperating but of course I was having another IBS flare correlating with ovulation. All day. So incredibly annoying. I still managed to get in a run between considerable time spent in the bathroom. This confirms that I really do need this. I want to be able to run all month long, not just during a few fleeting days. I want to get this done and over with now that I’m starting to feel motivated again. I want to start the recovery. I want to be pain free.

Cycle #67 and done

This quite possibly could be one of the worst periods I’ve had in my life. They’ve been getting noticeably worse lately and I’ve been keeping track so I could talk to my OBgyn about it. But the funny thing about physical pain is that while you’re experiencing it, it’s the worst thing you can ever deal with. Once it’s over, I sometimes think, that wasn’t so bad and move on. And that’s exactly what I’ve done the last few cycles, thinking I’ll let it slide another month. No more.

The only good thing about this period is that I didn’t start spotting for days beforehand. Just a little bit the night before, then a light day that progressed a little as evening came. I went to bed around midnight and at 3am I shot up to use the bathroom as I’ve trained myself to wake up when the flow is crazy. A couple hours later my husband was getting ready to leave for work and I thought about asking him to bring me some ibuprofen, but didn’t. I wasn’t in any real pain and I’d be getting up within the next two hours.

At 6am, I sprung up again to more ridiculous flow and that’s when it all turned horrible. Heavy flow just gushing everywhere and then the IBS flare. It wasn’t like I was constipated and it wasn’t like I had diarrhea but it just wouldn’t stop. I was groaning and yelling. I needed to go more but just couldn’t bear to. On one hand I thought I’d eventually have relief, but on the other hand I was afraid I couldn’t handle it once the ringing ears, blurred vision and cold sweat hit me.  I was terrified I would pass out while home alone.

I was begging, pleading, and kept saying out loud, “I just want to lie down, I just want to lie down.” I took three Motrin and moaned and groaned in bed for the next 30 or so minutes before I finally fell asleep again. When I needed to get up, I was so afraid to move. The cramps had subsided a bit but I was so afraid I’d have to go to the bathroom again and have it start all over.

Is this it? It this freaking perimenopause? Is this what I have to look forward to every month? The pain was so bad it felt like everything was on fire and my uterus was trying eject itself from my body. Low back, spine, leg, bowel, pelvic bone, uterus – ALL ON FIRE. Oh, and throw in nausea, too.

I think this might be it. I just might have to have a hysterectomy. I tried to hold on for that miracle last good egg for as long as I could, but I just don’t think my body will hold on. I called my doctor and the preop is set for next week. I’m thinking maybe we’ll start with a laparoscopy, but we’ll see.  I might have to prepare myself for the true end of the road.

Always a setback

I don’t know what the deal is anymore. My body continues to fail me and I’m tired of speculating why.  Started this whole new routine of going to bed earlier in an effort to get up super early when hubby does. Thought it would be a better way to start the day instead of my usual hit snooze six times, get up too late, throw myself together while grumbling inside about the day I anticipate having, racing out of the house without makeup and starting my day at work feeling stressed out. Plus, I just got so tired of getting home so late from work+errand or work+exercise class or work+winter commute or just plain old work+work, that I needed a change.

So it was going well. Some days were tougher than others but it was nice to start the day without feeling rushed. It was nice to have a little time with the hubs before he left for work. We’d try new smoothie recipes, and I’d sometimes get a run on the treadmill in, and still have time to clean the kitchen, make a grocery list, pack a lunch, and put myself together for work, leaving on time and even getting there early.

The first two and half weeks were great, and then, a setback. I woke up last Saturday feeling more low back pain than usual. Really low and a little different than it normally feels, but who knows anymore? We have a lousy mattress and I’m starting to think that my weird sciatica problem is forever here to stay. The weird backache persisted and Monday morning I started to feel the ache of what might have been a UTI. I picked up some over-the-counter medicine and cranberry juice and started to feel a little better. But by Wednesday morning, everything changed. I got up for work and not only did the achey burn return, but I had an IBS flare out of nowhere. The kind I sometimes get signaling a period’s on its way, only that was impossible because it was mid-cycle. So is this what I face each month? Having these symptoms each month, not once but twice? It was horrible and I called off work. I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and tried to get in to see my OB/GYN.

Of course she wasn’t available and wouldn’t be until mid-March. Seriously?!  So I got an appointment with one of the other doctors in the group. The appointment was pretty uneventful. I explained what I was feeling and he simply wrote me a script for an antibiotic and took a urine sample. Part of me wanted to spill that something’s not right with me, that I feel like my cycles are getting worse, not just my periods, but the entire cycle. But it seemed pointless. I don’t know who this doctor is and why start over with rehashing my medical history when I can just take cipro for three days? I went home and took it easy. Only I wasn’t getting better.

Thursday and Friday I just felt lousy, like my belly was filled with poo up to the navel and I started having a persistent ache on the right side. I couldn’t tell if it were in the front or the back, it felt like both. Was it my ovary or my kidney? My appendix? Pretty sure I’d know if it were my appendix. At one point I debating going to an urgent-care center but waited it out. It’s finally been a week since all these symptoms started and I’m finally feeling better for the most part.  So what the heck is going on with me? Is this what perimenopause brings? Am I going to feel lousy like this every month? I lost an entire week. No exercise, no motivation, and no answers. Really tired of this.

The idea of moving on

A neighbor I only met briefly, decided to move south with her husband. To an island. And as if that wasn’t zen enough, I think she started teaching yoga. And then to pay the bills, she’s also now a realtor. A realtor selling beautiful beach homes. Instead of being jealous, I am absolutely inspired by this. Ok, maybe a tiny bit jealous.

I’m finding more and more of these stories popping up lately, either in conversation or something I read or see online. I just met a gal recently who told me how she went to Italy and has friends there. Friends in Italy. Friends who went to Italy and decided to live there. Who does this? I’m just in awe.

People everywhere following their dreams, whether it’s a move, or a career, or even just a small leap into a hobby that might take off, all out there living their dream.  I picked up a local magazine the other day and read about a woman who starting making her own handbags in the attic of her home and sells them in some of the coolest boutiques in town and also online. She seems to have quite the following and an amazing blog. How do people do this?

I know of another woman who quit her longtime career as a journalist and opened an amazing boutique clothing store in a little hip part of town. It’s absolutely thriving and she’s doing what she really loves. It was a huge leap of faith and it worked out. I absolutely love her store.

Years ago I used to visit a friend, in the very town I live in, long before I moved here, and we’d dream of opening a yarn shop. We were knitting fiends. I loved the historic town square and dreamed of living here someday and daydreamed about how cool it would be to own a store. Of course this never happened.  I mean, I later moved here with my hubby, but we built a home and there is no store.

Within the decade or more that had passed, a fantastic yarn store opened up by a woman who I’m sure is hugely passionate about knitting, just as I was. And then several other shops have opened – all of which I could see myself running. Gift shops, interior design studio, shabby chic painted furniture shops, even a wine boutique that has amazing events with pairings and tastings.

Yep, these are a few of my favorite things, and they’ve all been done here.  And every single day I still sit and daydream and ask myself just what is it that you want to do? Why can’t you figure it out already?

And the crazy part is, we’re not tied down. We have no kids. This should be a no-brainer. But when I think about taking any kind of leap, I’m paralyzed with fear. The thought of moving someplace warm and sunny would do wonders for my mood and creativity, but then I start to feel like a failure for not being able to fill the house we built and hoped to raise a family in. It’s an awful feeling. Total defeat.

Then I think about trying a new career path, hoping to find something I’ll love doing. Something that I’ll have a passion for and look forward to doing every day. But I still ask myself what that might be. And then I think about the money we need to make to afford to live in this empty house. For what? It’s so dumb.

Something needs to change, I’ve been saying this for a long time. Since that change did not involve a baby, the change needs to be something else. I’m forty freaking years old and hubby will soon be as well. If we can’t have the life we thought, then it better damn well be fabulous some other way. There has to be a way.

Career 2ww

Let me just say, I’m so glad the owner of the design company is on vacation right now for the next two weeks because I’m going to need every moment to continue weighing the pros and cons of a career change.

I was on vacation from work for over two weeks and the longer I was away, the easier it was to think about a change. I worked on my list of questions for the new opportunity and had them at the ready in case I got the call to discuss.  I was getting nervous when my phone rang because I was afraid of the idea of moving on. But now that the phone call has been postponed, and now that I’m back at work, the tables have turned a little.

Now that I’m back, it was nice to catch up with coworkers. I work with a lot of really great people. 

Since it’s the new year, I’m looking forward to some of my goals for new things I’d like to achieve at work.

I’m also equally terrified of the new things I’d like to achieve at work. 

I was anxious to start the year off right by trying to leave the house no later than 8am. Ok, so it was 8:04, not bad. The drive ended up being 50 minutes door-to-door. By the time I got to my desk, it was 9am on the button. I could do without this part.

And then I was greeted by a handful of the mundane “because I’m the admin” requests that really get under my skin. Why can’t I just suck it up? But I can’t help but ask myself is this what you really want to keep doing? The exciting new project opportunities always get tarnished by the mundane.

At lunch I worked on our budget, looking at our bill-paying schedule and that’s when I really think twice about staying put. Moving on would make us short more than I’d like. I’m sure we’d find a way but it would be stressful and a challenge. I’d definitely need a second job, at least for a little bit. But think of that commute you’d be giving up?

Today was the first time in almost a month that I went back to my physical therapy fitness class.  It’s every Monday night and something I still desperately need to kick this sciatica to the curb. If I took a job close to home, I could say goodbye to this class. There’s no way I’d make it there in time. Is that worth giving up?

And then, at the end of class, a lady came up to me and asked how the kids enjoyed Christmas. “I’m sorry?”

“Your kids? Did they have a good Christmas?”

Sigh. Maybe I could skip this class?

The most difficult time of the year

I’m willing to bet that Christmas stinks for a lot of people. More than I realize. For every “perfect” family scenario seen posted someplace online, there’s many others who don’t have it that way. And sometimes I wonder if those perfect images are only the illusion of happiness, anyway.  Who really has it that perfect all the time?

This year just might have been our worst year yet. I felt behind every step of the way. I happily decorated the house right after Thanksgiving, feeling ahead of the game, but the rest just fell apart. By the time we got to the 22nd, I hadn’t baked or sent any cards, not even to immediate family, and I just didn’t care anymore. Nothing felt right.

My husband was on call for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day again this year. We found out his brother-in-law was having surgery right before Christmas and his family wouldn’t be able to make it over to the house for Christmas Eve, a tradition we look forward to each year. We made the most of it by taking his mom and niece out to dinner and to give them their gifts, but it wasn’t the same. We enjoy hosting something cozy in the home, where we can play games and all be there together, laughing and having a good time.

At dinner we talked a little about my husband’s father and how this year marked the 20th year since his passing on Christmas day. I still can’t imagine what that was like and probably never will. My heart aches for all of them. When I mentioned that I’d be going to midnight mass later, my mother-in-law told us how she went to midnight mass the night before her husband passed. It was something I thought about the rest of the night, especially sitting in church alone for the third year in a row since my husband was on call and needed to go to bed early in the event of getting paged. I thought about what that must have felt like, hoping and praying for something so incredibly difficult. And then I sat there alone and thought about being alone, if something happened to either one of us, that would be it. No children to lean on. Thankfully midnight mass is probably the one that’s least attended by little ones, but the thoughts were still there. But, the choir, the mass and sermon, and the reason for being there was beautiful, which warmed my heart.

At 6:30 a.m., my husband was paged for work. Our little “just the two of us” Christmas morning would have to wait. It was me and kitty and brussels sprouts, since I decided to start cooking my share of the dinner sides while I waited for him to come home, which finally happened around noon. I was never happier to see him and to spend some time together, hoping he wouldn’t get paged again.

The other thing missing this year was my dad. Sort of. He’s still with us, but not well. This was the first year we’d be spending our Christmas visit with him in a nursing home, and more likely it would have to be a day or two later since it’s too far of a drive to fit it all in a day. I still can’t believe it sometimes. He’s 65 years old, completely mobile, looks normal to the point that other residents think he’s a guest visiting someone else, yet his brain disease is the reason he’s there. Things haven’t always been great with him and post-divorce we did our best to maintain some sort of tradition with him. I now miss our awkward family breakfast at my sister’s house, back when we had no idea what was wrong with him. All we knew was that we had about 90 minutes to the button because he had to suddenly up and leave to go home, often taking his presents and cookies to go. We had no idea his brain was deteriorating and creating these strange social behaviors. This year, we’d be bringing gifts to him and he’d have nursing home roast beef with three table mates in the dementia unit, who either can’t speak, or can’t walk, or both.

Christmas Day, we made another attempt at being the blended family at my mom’s house, with her new husband and his kids and grandkids. It’s adjustment that we try to accept, but it hasn’t always been easy. The biggest strain being his daughter. Let’s just say she’s been down some difficult roads after making a string of not so great decisions in life. She has one child from a guy while being in the service. Another from her first husband, who we later learned was a drug addict and they split. Then she hooked up with her new guy, who she is now engaged to, but not before having two babies with him, less than a year apart. He also has three older children of his own, from his first marriage.  So when they all come over, there are nine of them. It’s been fine, sometimes a little chaotic, but fine. It’s family and the right thing to do to include them. But for whatever reason this year, her fiance was set off by some stupid comment just as they were walking in the door. He started shouting and yelling for the kids to leave because he was mad. He ended up leaving half his family behind for the entire night, and halfway through the next day. She made several attempts to call him, which ended up with more yelling on the phone from one of my mom’s bedrooms. It made for a tense night and it’s moments like these that make me wonder why my husband and I are denied the blessing of children, yet for others it comes so easily and taken for granted.

So while this might have been the first Christmas in terms of me not crying during commercials featuring children, or tearing up or getting jealous of moms, while out shopping, it was in fact, the worst Christmas, ever. I can’t help but feel like if there were ever a family that needed a miracle, a blessing, something joyous, something to take the sting out of Christmas for all the various reasons I’ve described, it should be this one. THIS family.

But it isn’t so.

New year, more of the same?

As I continued to mull over the possibility of a career change, my friend texted to ask if I had heard from the company’s owner yet. Unfortunately, I hadn’t, but told her I had been working on a list of questions and was still considering my decision. I’ll be honest, the prospect started to excite me a little. Yeah, it would be tough and in some ways, a big risk, but it made me think a little differently about things. About how maybe it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing to pick up another job along with it or to get my own side venture going. The thought of working near home or even at home is so tempting.  I went from thinking there’s no way I’d consider changing jobs, to actually thinking maybe it’s time?

I later learned the owner was leaving soon for vacation for the next couple weeks and my friend thought maybe we’d connect after. I started to wonder if maybe this opportunity wasn’t really going to happen. Maybe they feel I wouldn’t be the right fit after all. Or maybe, just maybe, this gives me more time to sort things out. Return to work next week and really weigh things out. Crunch more numbers. Really think about this.

Or maybe, and this is a long shot, but maybe it was a sign to wait. I can’t help but think that if I had some sort of miracle pregnancy, it would make my decision much easier. There would be no way I’d take a leap. I’d stay put where it felt safe for a little while. Maybe someone was looking out for me to see what happened this cycle before I made a hasty decision?

I thought about this cycle and of course it wasn’t without weird symptoms…again. I had some weird uterine type pains when I sneezed and I had a solid day of weird pulling sensations and zinging pains near my hip bones. I couldn’t help but wonder if something was finally happening. After the crappy Christmas display we witnessed (a story for another time), maybe we’d finally be blessed with some miracle. So maybe, just maybe, this two week wait for the owner to return from vacation and contact me would uncover my decision. Maybe it was being made for me and I didn’t even realize. It was a nice, warm and fuzzy thought.

And then..

At about nine minutes to midnight on NYE, I went to the bathroom to be back in time for the celebration, and there it was, slight spotting. I made it to CD22 without a single spot and there it was. Mocking me right before midnight. One last kick in the face for 2014. One more reason to feel like an idiot for ever thinking it would happen. An idiot for creating this fairy tale ending, complete with signs and unbelievable coincidences. I can’t believe I did that to myself again without even trying.

Looks like 2015 will soon be starting with cycle #65. What a way to kick things off…

Game changer

There has been something weighing heavily on my mind since December 12. Well, when I wasn’t consumed by the holidays, it was on my mind. And now that the holiday craze has come to an end, it’s all I can think about. I’m absolutely consumed and conflicted.

On December 12, at the end of my work day, just as I was freshening up to leave for our work holiday party, where we would recap our phenomenal year as a staff and organization, as well as celebrate a retiring member of our team, my phone rang. It was one of my design friends who I met while in school for interior design and who I still try to keep in touch with on a somewhat regular basis. I never expected the news she was about to share with me.

The design company that she interned at while we were in school and has been employed with for the past year – the same company that I did half my internship with…is hiring another full-time designer. My friend, the other staff who I spent my time interning with, and the owner all thought of me for the job. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe the timing. I was about to spend a wonderful evening with my colleagues and suddenly I felt like I was cheating on them for “flirting” with the idea of a new job.

I told my friend where I was heading and that we’d talk in more detail later and as I left the building, my head swirled. Things are finally good at work. Salary is good – more than I’ll ever make as an admin anyplace else. My boss is amazing and someone who believes in me and encourages me to step outside the boundaries of being just an assistant. I have great coworkers. And I love the organization and all it does for the community. I decided there was no way I’d even entertain the thought of leaving any further. I’d still hear my friend out but I was pretty firm about my concerns.

A few days later she invited me over for wine and pizza so we could chat.  She told me all about her job and how much she loves it, how much they are growing and how consistently busy they are that they need to hire not only another designer, but office and warehouse personnel as well. My first thought was that I and the other new folks would be the first to go if things didn’t stay so busy. I was playing devil’s advocate.

We talked salary – my number one issue and reason for not pursuing design at the moment. I felt it would be awkward to ask my friend what she makes, but I’d be willing to bet my salary could be cut by as much as half of what I make now. But there’s things to factor in like: my outrageous commute each day 35+ miles there and back, plus gas, plus $85 a month to park my car – and that’s one of the cheaper lots!

We talked hours – another biggie. I used to work in retail and hospitality jobs and I actually enjoyed them. What I didn’t always enjoy was losing my evenings, weekends, and holidays. I hated that I’d have to ask an employer for permission for a Saturday off, just so I could have dinner with family for a special occasion. I’ve gotten pretty spoiled by the Monday-Friday 9to5 thing. This job would have an even later start time, yet most days I’d still be getting home at the same time, if not earlier than the commute I deal with now. I failed to mention that this new job is 10 minutes from my house – less than six miles away.

The tough part with the schedule would be the two nights they are there late – til 830. I guess that’s not a huge deal because the tradeoff is they are closed on Wednesday, so I’d be gaining a day off for appointments, errands, anything. But more likely it would end up being a day that I’d pick up a few hours at a second job because I fear I’d have to. The most difficult part of all is working Saturdays. It would be giving up a lot.  Ok, so if I wrapped up the day at 5pm, I could still do dinners with the family. But I’d miss the soccer games for my niece and nephew. I’d miss going out to breakfast with hubby once in a while. And most of all, I’d miss out on the marathon training group – a group of amazing individuals who helped me do something I thought was impossible. They were my rock, my family. Even though getting up at 5am on Saturday mornings to run was downright painful – I couldn’t trade it for the world.

But what happens if I can’t fix this nagging injury/pain/problem I’ve been dealing with for the past year and a half? Am I willing to pass on a new and exciting job opportunity because I might be able to run another marathon? Could I do both? There’s so much to think about that I haven’t even scratched the surface.

What about benefits? Thankfully I’m on my husband’s insurance but what about 401K? What about vacation and sick days? I’ve been at my current job for 8.5 years and finally accruing close to four weeks vacation. Would I have to start over? Zero days until after working a year? Some places are like that, especially the smaller ones.  But let’s be real here. We’ve taken a few trips over the past few years, especially when we needed an escape from infertility and ttc failure, but in the last six months or so, I sat down and took a real hard look at finances and mapped out a plan for us. We discovered that if we really put our nose the grindstone, we’d be in really good shape in about 2.5 years. It’s the first time I felt like there was a light at the end of the tunnel with paying things down, while saving a decent amount each month. With the notion of the future being “just us two,” we talk about things we’d like to do. Adventures, classes, travel, experiencing life without all the “what-ifs” that have plagued us these last 4+ years.

If I took a job with a lesser salary, all of that would be put on hold. It wouldn’t be forever, but it would definitely take us longer to get there. Is that a risk I’m willing to take?

And then there’s fear. Plain old can’t, doubt, stop me in my tracks, FEAR. I have very little experience as a designer. Sure I’ve done plenty for my own house and have given advice to friends and family, but if something didn’t turn out right, I don’t have to fire myself. Would I even be able to do this? I’ve been out of the loop for a while. I graduated from the design program 2.5 years ago. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. My friend tells me that I shouldn’t worry, that they all learn from one another and I’d never have to feel stuck or afraid to ask for help.  How many jobs can you say that about?  And I believe her. When I interned there, it was a wonderful experience – a family business with a family feel. A group of the warmest, nicest, non-judgmental folks I’ve ever met. My friend included. It would be such fun to work with her every day and grow our friendship even more.

I also think about my side venture that I never seem to get off the ground. I’ve been wanting to open an online shop of handmade items for the home. I always thought it felt like a safe way for me to ease myself into design. I thought it would marry my art background and interior design dreams. But that’s been on hold for the past two years as well. Partly because I lost interest in a lot of things due to ttc, but I think also because I’ve become so complacent in life. Things were just…ok. There was no need to do anything more, even if that meant something I might actually enjoy. Most days, I was just drained. Go to work where I’d have an OK day, drive home for an hour, be drained and do nothing with myself. Unless I was running. Otherwise, I’d come home and daydream about how things could be.

Is that what I want to continue doing? Maybe I could finally push myself to open my shop? First, out of necessity if this new job opportunity was cinching the belt too tightly. But second, it could lead to other things. What better way to introduce home goods than through an already established designer’s showroom? She’s already doing that for some other artisans.  So much to think about, numbers to crunch, compromises and decisions to make.

I think the biggest question is, do I want to keep doing what I’m doing? Is this what I want out of life? Spinning my wheels, always wondering? Do I give new opportunities at my current job a try because it’s safer? Or do I give an entirely new opportunity a try because it could be what I’m destined to do?

I guess there’s no way to know until I decide…