One year ago today, November 22nd 2016, I left work as a teacher to go home sick again with ulcerative colitis. Little did I know that I would never return! A career that spanned 23 years and was something that I would have happily retired doing. The days and weeks that were to follow were some of the hardest I have ever experienced in my life. Sport has seen me stitched, pinned, plated and even pulled out of rear windscreen and thought to be dead! However, none of these experiences were anywhere close to the feeling of despair, worry and worthlessness that I felt as I tried to come to terms with the illness.
I had been living with it for several years but just hid it away. Who really cares, everyone has things to deal with, who really wants to hear about it, I certainly didn't want to talk about it! The biggest (and clearly the most stupid) thing I felt was a feeling of uselessness. For folks who know me this may come as a surprise as I am annoyingly motivated. You tell me it can't be done and I do it. However, I was starting to think that this pressure I put on myself was the thing making me sick!
Ulcerative colitis has no cure. When I got told that for the first time I actually didn't really care. I would beat it! However, on that dark drive home last November I started to accept those bloody harshly constructed words that the specialist was reeling off.
Have you ever thought that you deserved more gratitude or more respect or even more luck? You would never say, but now and then you would think it? I had those thoughts, lots of thoughts, some were not very nice. Was this depression or was it just a miserable bugger sorry with his lot? Whatever it was it didn't go away with me just trying to kick my own backside!
So what to do? Easy - talk to someone. I have been with my wife for 15 years and she was with me the day I was diagnosed and knows before I do that I am not well (if that makes sense). So she says that I need to leave teaching and develop my coaching business, end of matter, get it sorted!
That was it. It was that simple. Having the courage to make the decision and re-point my career compass at 46 years old! Mental, eh? What about your pension, what about your mortgage, what about your daughter.......... I heard it all. Then there was. I am so proud of you, I wish I was as brave as you, you'll be a success........ Yeh, you learn quickly what folks think or maybe how they view things and you start to feel sorry for them?
So one year on from that dark day am I a roaring success and rolling in cash? No, far from it. I have a lot of hard work ahead of me and a lot still to learn. Am I beating colitis? Well no, I am 3 months into a difficult flare up to control but managing it as well as I can. So what is going well?
Lots! Can you measure a persons well-being? Can you measure a person's drive to succeed? Can you measure the time spent at 'work' when you would rather be collecting or taking your daughter to school and give it a value of worth? I held many posts over the years and when preparing 'policies' as a Deputy Head Teacher I had to create and deliver a presentation on the work/life balance. What a load of crap it was when I look back. Managers weren't interested in the relationships staff had with people out with work, and had no idea how they contributed to their productivity when at work!
One thing I wasn't expecting was the incredible volume of kindness. Yes lots of folks politely wish you well, however some special people definitely appear in your life. People who go beyond the emotional support, people who stick their neck out for you and act in a way that directly impacts on your development. Yes, you have make things happen for yourself, you have seize and maximise every opportunity but if I have learned anything in the last year then it is about the amazing people that exist all around us. I have those folks, some of them I didn't even know one year ago! I could bore you all with the a****** out there who have tried various things to knock me back but my new journey is all about positivity. You get to a certain age and realise that some folks just don't register with you so drop them quickly. Beginning to sound like I am ranting - sorry.
You ever done a task at work and wondered why or what it actually contributed to? I believe everyone is their own boss! Every action you take always has an impact on you, even if it doesn't feel like it at times. I am not going to harp on about seizing the moment and better yourself etc, etc. No, I just wanted to give folks and anyone prepared to listen a wee update that no matter how difficult your present situation might be, there is always a way forward. The sun still rises and sets but what we do with each day is nothing to do with what others think of us. It is about our place within that 'core' of who matters in our life. Simple, eh? So I am now a contemporary caveman in charge of my destiny and protecting my family. Watch this space at watch the development at http://www.kineticcyclecoaching.co.uk