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
Subscribe or to access all post and page content.
" Emmeline Olson : All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy...or makes him spiral into the depths of madness like in The Shining. To keep myself sane, I brandish a sword and hunt people for body parts for fun...but not at the same time. I'm a Kyo Sa Nim (2nd degree black belt) in Mu Sool Won and an advocate for organ donation through Donate Life and UNOS. The former wouldn't be possible without the latter. I was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), an autoimmune liver disease, when I was 23 years old and Crohn's disease right before I turned 33. I battled chronic illness for more than 20 years before my liver finally failed, and I received a liver transplant in 2017. I'm alive because a 30-year-old woman and her family made the unselfish decision to donate her organs. Six months after my transplant, I was able to return to practicing martial arts, which I had to quit in 2016 when my health declined. The physical and mental exercise has been a tremendous help in my rehabilitation and recovery. In December 2018, I earned my 2nd degree black belt. With my renewed health, I'm determined to advocate for patients and educate the public on the impact of living with chronic and autoimmune diseases..."