Happy, Healthy, and Killing It at Work

The day my first Billfold article was published, I got a job offer from a company I’ll call Big Corporation. It was a great opportunity to advance my career and earn more money. I’d felt like my professional life was in a rut. This was an opportunity to make a big change. I said goodbye to the freelance life and hello to stable paychecks, cubicles and commuting.

When one area of my life improves, another gets worse. It’s been that way forever, a twisted yin and yang. So I ended my week of out-of-state job training by having a seizure in front of a high-level executive. Some career advice: Try not to do this. I suppose I should thank my body for waiting until I had good, employer-provided insurance before it freaked the hell out. I’d never had a serious health problem before, and I ended up at what I’m pretty sure was the emergency room that—spoiler alert—let Derek Shepard die on “Grey’s Anatomy.” One nurse blew veins in both of my arms when she attempted to draw some blood. Another nurse refused to give me a glass of water. The doctor, who had a hipster lumberjack beard, basically said, “Everything seems fine. Sometimes people have seizures for no reason. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”

I should have sought another doctor’s opinion when I returned home, but I felt fine. I was busy learning both the technical aspects of my new job and how to function in an office environment. I’d forgotten what it was like to deal with constant emails and IMs and coworkers and all the other things that take time away from doing actual work at work. Big Corporation is quite fond of meetings and conference calls. A lot of them are interesting, educational, and even fun, but it’s very different from setting my own schedule as a freelancer.

A couple months later, on a sunny Sunday, while walking down the street with some friends, I had another seizure. I fell onto concrete. I can’t reveal any more details because I have no memory of the incident. Fortunately, my only injuries were cuts and bruises. I am literally, as well as figuratively, hardheaded. This time, the paramedics brought me to the world-class hospital near my apartment, and their doctors were very different. One cleverly hid the stitches I needed in my eyebrow so there wouldn’t be a visible scar. A neurology resident referred me to the hospital’s seizure disorder program. Long story short: a battery of tests all came back normal. I was prescribed an anticonvulsant and have been seizure-free ever since.

Since I live in a state that requires doctors to report all patients who have a seizure to the Department of Motor Vehicles, my driver’s license has been suspended indefinitely until I can prove to the DMV’s satisfaction that I am healthy. On one hand, I understand why this law exists. I can’t imagine anything worse than injuring or killing someone because I had a seizure while I was driving. I don’t want to put anyone at risk. On the other, shouldn’t my doctor, not an employee at the DMV with no medical training, be the one who decides when it’s safe for me to get behind the wheel of my recently paid-off car? The DMV stapled someone else’s suspension notice, complete with his address and details about his DUI, to mine. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

So, first and foremost, my fantasy new-and-improved me in 2016 is healthy. I don’t have any more seizures. I get my drivers’ license back after impressing everyone with my brilliant testimony at DMV Court, which is a thing that exists (who knew?). I hope that my medical bills, which are still coming in, are manageable. Even with good insurance, there’s a lot that isn’t covered.

Second, the best version of myself gets so good and speedy at my job that I never have to bring any of my work home. I have time for my own writing, which I have neglected since I became a person with a job. I am 90 percent through the draft of a novel, and then it will take another 5 to 10 drafts before it’s good enough to show people.

Third, I get an actual personal life. Hopefully there’s a great guy out there who is super into women with semi-intense jobs who need to take medication every day. Maybe that should be my Tinder profile for the new year.

This article is part of The Billfold’s 2015 end-of-year series, “Our Best Selves in the Coming Year.”

Sara Bibel is a writer and editor in Los Angeles who now works for a cool division of a large company. Follow her on Twitter at @deepsoap.

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