Making the Change from ‘Working to Live’ to ‘Living to Work’

Making the Change from ‘Working to Live’ to ‘Living to Work’
For the first time in more than 20 years, I’m not working a full-time, 40-hour-a-week job. This was a difficult decision to make, especially because I’m only 45 years old and have a good 20 or so years ahead of me before I can tap into my retirement funds. However, after my liver transplant in 2017 and restarting my Crohn’s treatment shortly after in 2018, I decided life was too short to deal with the commute and stress of teaching advertising at a state university 40 miles from my home in Austin, Texas. This January, after juggling work with my chronic illness my entire professional life, I chose to focus on my physical and mental health instead of my career. When I think back to how poorly I felt when my Crohn’s peaked, I’m astounded that I was able to continue working a full-time job, hardly ever taking a sick day unless I was contagious to others. I kicked into survival mode, and dealing with my illness became an issue of mind — and money — over matter. I attribute my tenacity to my financial need, ingrained Asian work ethic, and high pain tolerance. Health insurance has always been my main motivation for working through my illness. Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, the only way I could get and retain health insurance was through continuous, employer-sponsored coverage because of my preexisting conditions. Because Crohn’s was my second chronic disease diagnosis, my need for healthcare became even more desperate. I also needed a steady salary to pay the deductibles and copays for my growing list of medications, tests, and doctors. Even after the ACA passed, I had excellent health benefits that were too good to give up, so I continued to work as my he
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