Why Taking a Pay Cut Was The Best Thing I Ever Did For My Business

As solopreneurs (or even as business owners in a creative field), our goal is pretty simple: always make more money than you did the previous year.

On the surface, this is a pretty solid goal, for obvious reasons: more money is always good.

Right?

Well….mostly.

Let’s take an opportunity to go back through my self employment history a bit, shall we?

Grab a beer, get some popcorn (or just, you know, more beer), and get comfy for about 7 minutes or so.

A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away…

(Did you hear the Star Wars theme song start playing as you read that? Good. My plan is working.)

I held a job as a geologist from about 2010 to 2014. Throughout that entire time, I did photo editing on the side to make extra income because like most people my age, I had a buttload of student debt but still wanted to afford the small joys in life.

You know, like buying a new pair of socks every once in a while and not being homeless.

As time went on (and I became increasingly unhappy with my job for reasons we won’t get into too much here), I realized that a) I was really good at editing, and b) I could make quite a bit more money working for myself editing than I could at my current job.

So I phased out my fulltime job from full-time to part time to as-needed, and during that time, continued to increase the amount of editing work I took on. 

Eventually I kicked the once-fulltime job altogether (sayonara, cubicle and horrendous fluorescent lights!) and was on my own running my own business.

After my first full year in business, I made enough money that I was able to pay off my student loan debt in one lump sum (at my old job, it would have taken me like 20 years or something ridiculous). 

I was what I considered to be the Successful Creative Solopreneur: I was making more money year after year.

Pretty great right?

Well…….sort of

The downside was that I was also working all the time. Because I was trading my time for money, the only way to make more money was to work more.

Now, let’s be clear: I grew up in the midwest where there’s a huge agricultural and farming background, and where working long, hard days is a hallmark of good character. 

But at the same time, I wasn’t seeing my friends and family at all. I was also sitting at a desk for 15+ hour days, and my back was really sore and I was getting tendinitis in my mouse hand. 

I also knew I wanted to move my business forward and take it to the next level, but had literally no time (or energy, let’s be real) to make it happen.

So if you’re following the plot so far, you’ve come to realize: something had to change.

But what?

As I’ve come to find out, there have been two critical parts to this equation that really helped me with this breakthrough.

(This is just another picture of me dressed as Han Solo. I had my buddy Dave from Abby + Dave do a few shots of me at a photography convention. I included it because it fits the Star Wars theme. And because I’m a dork. Obvi.)

First, Let’s Talk About Time Management.

In April of 2017 I spoke at a photo convention where my friend (and now client) Andy Stenz was also speaking (hhhheeeyyy Andy!).

His talk was about living your life with intentionality. About how you have to be intentional with everything you’re doing.

Otherwise, you end up spending your time on things that you don’t actually want to spend your time on.

About how easy it is to just do things without thinking about them, and reach the end of your life regretting all the time you spent doing things you didn’t actually really care about.

(Pretty sobering, huh? I won’t go too far into the idea of intentionality in this article, but it definitely struck a chord with me in a way it hadn’t previously.)

It was at this point that I realized I needed to practice what I preached.

I always told photographers they needed to outsource so they can spend less time in front of the computer and more time doing the things that were important to them, like spending time with friends and family.

So I needed to do the same.

But first, I needed to figure out where my time was going.

What was I actually spending time on in my business? What was I even DOING from about 8am to 8pm!?

I had to run the numbers.

I created a spreadsheet where I tracked what I worked on every day, how long it took me to work on it, and how much I got paid for doing it.

And I kept a running total for the whole day on what my average hourly pay rate was.

I did this for a few months and I became acutely aware of the tasks that made me the most money per hour and the ones that drastically decreased my average hourly rate.

After that, I revamped my business a bit.

I cut out all the services that drastically decreased my hourly rate so I could focus on the things that I made the most money per hour doing

Once I did that, my average hourly working rate more than doubled

And I was now working considerably less, but making the same amount of money.

This was a huge piece of the puzzle, but it was only half of the picture. 

I haven’t talked about taking a pay cut yet, which was another huge piece of the puzzle.

(Notice BB-8 just chillin’ in the background here.)

How Could I Create More Time?

At this point, I may be making more money per working hour, but I’m still trading my time for money. And with that, the only way I can make more money is to work more.

And as we know, time is finite. But at this point, I needed more of it.

How could I get the time I needed to a) have a life again, and 2) move my business forward?

Essentially, how could I create more time?

Since we live on planet earth and are bound by the laws of physics, I can’t create more time…per se.

But what I can do….is buy someone else’s time.

I realized that if I hired someone else, I could offload some of my own work to them, pay them for their time, and do something else with the time I’d normally spend doing whatever it was I was paying them to do.

So that’s exactly what I did next.

Now, this has come with a bit of a short-term drawback.

You can’t just hire someone and give them work and turn them free and be like, ‘Ok now do this now! Let me know when it’s done! Kthxbie!’

You have to take the time to train them so they do it right. And then you also have to pay them for that time.

So the stuff I was getting paid to do (i.e., editing and retouching), I was now paying them to do and training them on how to do it.

(Wait a second, he’s not from Star Wars…)

For example.

Let’s say that before I hired them I was making $500 a day to edit $1,500 images.

After hiring, I was now making $250 per day (after I accounted for what I was paying them) to train someone else on how to edit those same photos.

As you can see, I took a pay cut. I went from making a theoretical $500 per day to less than that (and the amount varied per day depending on how much editing had to be done). 

It also changed how I paid myself.

I went from paying myself 50% of my gross profits (the other 50% going towards taxes, business savings, and business expenses), to paying myself 30% of my gross profits after I accounted for the additional cost of paying my team members.

By now you’re probably thinking, “Wow that was a terrible idea! How the actual fuck is this sustainable?”

Easy. 

Because the training process for new team members is not indefinite. It is a finite period of time. 

I hired both the girls I have working for me now months ago, and it’s getting to the point now where I’m very hands-off with their training and their work.

I send them stuff, they edit it, they return it, I take a few minutes to do quality control, and I send it back to the photographer.

So now I make $250 a day (or whatever it happens to be based on how much editing there is) to do practically nothing.

And, I have a ton more time in my schedule.

Time I’ve used to learn new skills I can now add as purchasable services (like Facebook advertising for photographers). 

Time I’ve used to market my business and bring in more clients – both editing clients that my team members edit for and clients that I don’t even edit for but do things like Facebook ads or blogging and newsletter services.

And, if we’re being completely honest, time I’ve also shamelessly spent playing Fallout on Xbox because some days you just need to drink whiskey and play videogames. #KeepinItReal

I now even have evenings free. Instead of working until 8 or 9 at night, I’m done around 5 or 6pm and I can use the evening to do god-knows-what (i.e., play more videogames and drink more whiskey #RealTalk).

So How Do The Numbers Break Down?

Let’s say that before I hired my team members I was taking home, on average, $3,000 a month after taxes and business expenses

When I was going through the training process, that number dropped to around $1,500-$2,000 per month. 

But remember what I said earlier – the training period is finite.

Now that I’m mostly through the training process, my monthly take-home pay has started to increase to around $3,500 a month after taxes, business expenses, and paying my team members. 

Outsourcing Photography Editing

(The subliminal messaging is strong with this one…)

In the upcoming months, that should increase further to closer to $4,000 or $5,000 per month.

I’ve also made the most I’ve ever made in a month this year since hiring my team members.

Secondarily, this should also be my business’s highest grossing year ever. 

And, I have more time for marketing my business and creating more services I can offer to photographers.

Plus – I have more free time. I’m not stuck working all the damn time. My back doesn’t hurt at the end of the day, and my tendinitis has basically disappeared. 

I see my friends and family regularly, without stressing about the work that’s not getting done while I hang out with them.

I’ve gone back to the gym and started lifting weights again, which is something I didn’t have time (or energy) for when I was working 12+ hour days.

And finally, I’m not burnt out anymore.

Working 12+ hour days back to back to back burns you out preeeetttty damn quick.

Cutting that time drastically has helped me feel way more passionate about my business and what I do than I have in the last couple years.

So now we’ve reached the point of the article where I have to ask you…

What’s Holding You Back?

Why haven’t you hired someone or outsourced some of the work in your business yet? 

Are you worried about what it will cost and how you’ll make your money back?

(If you are, I wrote an article that talks about how to recoup the money for your photography business, and you can read it here.)

Are you worried about letting go of control because no one else can edit like you can?

If that’s your concern, trust me – in the almost-ten years I’ve been doing this, every photographer who has worked with me and ended up loving it has had the same concern.

That’s dozens of people, if not more.

I even wrote an article about how to train an editor on your style if you’re not sure how to do it. It’s the method I use with a lot of my clients and it’s extremely efficient and effective.

So whatever your hesitations are, I urge you to really take the time to scrutinize them.

You may actually be getting in your own way of having the business (and the life) you dreamed of having when you started your business.

Trust me. #BeenThere #DoneThat

Free Shit! Woohoo!

If you want to start using a time tracker you can use to start tracking your own time, you can download one here. There’s no opt-in required; just download it straight from Dropbox.

Track your hours, you must. Make more money, you shall. 

How To Train Your Editor

In this video, I’ll walk you through some of the steps you can take to train an editor to learn your editing style.

Turns out, it’s not as hard as you would think. 

…But DOES require a virgin sacrifice.

Kidding! It totally doesn’t. Some nice gifs would be a fine alternative.

 

 

If you’re curious to see if we’d be a good fit, get in touch with me now and let me know a little bit about you.

Or, you know, just to share some awesome gifs or cat videos. Whatevs.

Are You Making These Editing Workflow Mistakes?

I took this photo of my friend Molly when we were having a work day at a local coffee shop. 

I’ve been a professional editor now for about 8 years. I do my best to work with each photographer’s workflow, and truthfully almost every photographer I work with has a slightly different workflow than another. 

Over time though, I’ve had a few people approach me about editing for them that had some terrible workflows, or were using actions or presets in such a way that actually wasted their own time and would have been almost impossible for me to recreate. 

So I thought I’d compile a list of some editing do’s and don’t’s and some best use practices when it comes to presets and actions.

Continue Reading..

I’ll Be Honest, Shit’s Been Shitty Lately: Chapter 4

Let’s take a step back from the story for a minute. We’re at October 2018, which, in the photography industry, is one of the busiest months of the entire year. 

I’m effectively Losing My Shit, but have almost zero opportunity to sit and process what’s going on. It’s a constant battle just to maintain some semblance of a status quo and make deadlines on time without dissolving into a screaming, crying, Mexican food-eating amoebas blob that lies in bed and cries and watches The Great British Baking Show and Bob Ross on endless repeat.

Oh, did I mention I was getting horrendously strong food cravings? Yeah. I was. For whatever reason, it was regularly for Mexican food. Not that shitty Taco Bell embarrassment, but real, delicious, authentic, tacos and tamales. The kind where you walk into the restaurant and know it’s going to be good if Spanish is the primary language being spoken in the kitchen. 

(Which, side note: If you’re going through some shit, I highly recommend the Great British Baking Show and Bob Ross. It’s soothing, doesn’t really have a plot, and you can tune in and out and it’s totally fine.)

Now that we have that vision firmly lodged in our brains, we’re ready for Chapter 4.

Chapter 4: I Am A Dumpster Fire

I show up for my doctor’s appointment and talk to the nurse about my side effects. They are concerned (and rightly so – it’s considered Serious Shit when your patients come in and talk about harming themselves).

They wanted to put me on anti-depressants. Now, I’ve been clinically depressed before and been on anti-depressants before. I wasn’t ever chronically depressed, but depressed because of life situations. (Abusive relationships and pushing yourself too hard in college will do that to ya – who knew!?)

But I knew what it felt like, and whatever was going on now felt different. Anti-depressants didn’t seem like the best fit. Besides, because taking medication is complicated for me at best, and I had no idea what I would be in for adding in a mind-altering drug to the cocktail of hormones my body was creating. 

Even when I was on anti-depressants (Prozac) 10+ years ago before I had Lyme, I still hated the side effects it created. God only knew what I’d be in store for now.

So I told them no, I didn’t want anti-depressants, that didn’t seem right.

My main gyno came in and sat down and said the thing that you really hate to hear from your doctor: 

“Well, I’ll be honest: I’m completely confused.”

Greeaaat. That’s my favorite! I love being a medical anomaly! Who doesn’t!?

(That’s my sarcasm font btw.)

She explained further.

See, mood swings like I was experiencing were caused by changes in hormones during the month, specifically progesterone.

The amount of progesterone in the body increases throughout the month, and then spikes about the week before your period, and then as soon as your period starts (or a day or so later), drops off again and plummets. 

By now you may remember – I’m on artificial progesterone because of birth control, shouldn’t that override my body’s natural progesterone cycles? 

*sigh* Whelp, that’s what should happen.

The operative being should.

But that wasn’t what was actually happening.

My body was fighting – and winning – against the artificial hormones. It had intentionally went to battle against my birth control hormones, and was winning.

This shouldn’t be happening. Nay, it shouldn’t be possible!

But here we are, and here I am. And it’s happening.

So….now what? 

If you remember from my previous doctor appointment, I do have options.

I could try:

  • Medication (like anti-depressants)
  • uterine ablation (which would remove the uterine lining so I wouldn’t have periods, and is still a surgical procedure)
  • A hysterectomy

If you’re putting the puzzle pieces together, you’re realizing there’s issues with all of these options.

I don’t do well on medication. At all. Who knows how medication is going to make me feel long-term. Plus, it would be anti-depressants that I’d be on, so I’d still be having a period. And periods were absolutely exhausting for me because I have less energy to work with on an average day than the average person.

Uterine ablation is a surgical procedure, which means there’d be substantial healing time involved. With a body that has a shitty immune system, this can get complicated.

Secondarily, I’m only 32. Because of my age, there’s only a 60% chance that the ablation would be a permanent fix. There’d be a decent chance my body would repair itself and regrow the uterine lining that was burned off during the procedure, and we’d be right back to where we were.

Except that we couldn’t do another ablation, because doing a second ablation can create a lot of complications. 

A hysterectomy is a pretty serious procedure, and again, requires a substantial healing period. 

Secondarily, a hysterectomy only removes the uterus – but it leaves the ovaries in tact. The ovaries are what create the hormones, so there’s a chance that even removing the uterus and my ability to have periods wouldn’t actually solve the problem. And, may potentially make things worse, if I have a rough time healing and suffer irreversible health side effects because of it.

(Side note – when my health declines for a long enough period of time, I will develop more cognitive problems associated with the lyme disease that are irreversible. Super fun, right??)

What kind of a state would healing from a surgery leave me in? Would I still be able to work?

Can I figure out this hormonal crap on my own without surgery or drugs? How much longer can I last with a voice in my head telling me I should kill myself?

How can I effectively run a business and grow a business in any of these conditions?

What’s the right answer? What do I do? 

Frankly put, at this point, I don’t know. I have no idea. 

I tell the gyno I want to think about it. And she said that was totally fine.

God bless her, she told me I could do literally anything I wanted, it would be entirely up to me. 

She gave me complete bodily autonomy, and never once told me about how I would regret any of the decisions that would render me incapable of having children.

God bless her. God bless each and every medical care provider that treats women like actual human beings and not just an incubator for fetuses.

I am so happy I had a doctor that gave me options instead of placing more precedence on a baby that I might someday have – maybe – regardless of how I feel in the meantime or how much I have to suffer to leave my body in a state that allows me to have that imaginary child later down the road.

(Spoiler alert: I don’t want kids. I’ve never wanted kids. I don’t like being around babies, I don’t love the ‘miracle of birth,’ and the smell of newborns makes me want to vomit. Whatever maternal instinct I’m supposed to have, is completely nonexistent in my gene pool.)

But….that doesn’t necessarily make my decision easier. And in the upcoming weeks, this is something I’m going to wrestle with.

At least, until I fuck things up even worse.

Because of course I do.

I’ll Be Honest, Shit’s Been Shitty Lately: Chapter 3

We’re about knee-dip in bullshit right now.

Take a minute, take a breather, restock your supplies, because it gets worse, and that’s where we’re headed next. 

Chapter 3: Progesterone Can Just Fuck Right Off

I called my gyno and set up an appointment. I went in and told her everything.

She had a guess as to where we could start.

See, progesterone (or in my case, progestin, which was contained the birth control I had been on for years) makes the lining of the uterus really thin.

So when I would work out, it would knock that lining loose and cause a period.

Since the body isn’t really equipped to handle unplanned bleeding from That Place *cough*TheVagina*cough*(think about it – it can’t really clot or stop the bleeding like a normal injury or wound), it essentially created a chemical shitstorm as my body tried to deal with the fact that it was bleeding for days with essentially no way to stop it.

I bought it. It made sense. It seemed to follow the pattern (mostly, but we’ll get to that).

Her suggestion was to take estrogen for 3 weeks because it would ideally thicken the lining of the uterus, meaning it wouldn’t break loose when I worked out. 

And, of course, me being me and my body being the worthless hunk of bullshit that it is, I had questions.

What if it doesn’t work? What are the side effects of estrogen? What do we try next? How do I know if it’s working?

She said that there were options we could pursue next, like uterine ablation (where they laser or burn the inside of your uterus so it can’t create lining), long term medication, and if it came down to it, a hysterectomy.

But we weren’t there yet, because we decided we’d try the estrogen for 3 weeks first because it was the easiest first step, it was the least invasive, and most likely the least destructive option.

So I take the estrogen. It makes me feel like shit, makes me super tired, and I have a handful of other side effects because Of Course I Do (hooray Lyme Disease, you worthless fuck). 

During those 3 weeks I also don’t work out at all, because, well, frankly, I’m exhausted from the meds. 

I finish my 3 weeks of estrogen and about a week after my last pill, I get my period.

Womp-womp. 

And, of course, a cavalcade of emotional hell as well as the hormones flew out of control. 

It was not awesome. I was hurting myself. I was taking it out on my boyfriend, who of all people, did not deserve to be on the receiving end of that craptitude. 

He had been so patient so far. When I was angry with myself for not being able to control what was going on, he was the one that was there telling me that it was ok because something was going on and I wasn’t myself. 

He was being more patient and understanding with me than I was of myself. And he was supporting me every step of the way, and taking all of this shitstorm as best as any human being could be expected to. 

*sigh*….

As you can imagine, I knew I had to call back for another doctor’s appointment because Shit Wasn’t Fixed. Shit was in fact, Shittier. 

So I made another doctor’s appointment because I had to pursue other treatment options.

By now it’s roughly October, and everything from here on out happens so fast I hardly have time to breathe let alone process and handle it.

I’ll Be Honest, Shit’s Been Shitty Lately: Chapter 2

Ok, now we have a base that we can work from. (If you haven’t read it yet, you can read Chapter 1 here.)

In summary, I mostly do ok, but my health is kinda shitty and it’s a bit of a wild card that can make even simple things extremely complicated. 

Now we’re going to fast forward to the fall of 2017, when the Shitty Shit really got shitty.

Chapter 2: My Uterus Is A Douche Bag

Yeah, so, I am an over-sharer. If you don’t like hearing intimate details about somebody’s life, this isn’t going to be a story for you. 

But if you’re hard to phase, keep reading – you’ll do fine.

I’ve been on birth control since 2007 roughly. Any form of birth control that I’ve had has contained the artificial hormone progestin (this is the lab-produced name of the natural female hormone, progesterone). 

It’s part of what makes birth control work. Some forms of birth control make it so you still have a period once a month, and some generally eliminate a period overall.

I was on the form for the last few years that eliminated my period entirely. Which, um, is fucking amazing. Fuck periods. Anyway.

Obviously there’s a lot more science going on there, but that’s really all we need to know for the purpose of this story. 

Last fall, after a very stressful first year of my relationship with my boyfriend, which was extremely stressful and had a huge impact on my health because of the stress, I was finally in a place where I had the energy to start working out again.

I love martial arts, I love weightlifting, but having a smaller amount of energy to work with on the average day means that the energy required to handle and process stress can quickly devour the energy required to maintain a regular workout schedule.

But last fall, things were going better with the boyfriend, and I had more energy and wanted to get back to weightlifting.

So I would go to the gym and lift. And afterwards, I’d get that glorious, wonderful sore feeling in my muscles that a good workout leaves you as a gift.

Except my body decided to give me another gift – a period.

After not really having one for a few years, this wasn’t super great. Worse of all, I seemed to get one any time I was sore after a workout. So I could have a period 2-4 times a month.

No joke. It was no bueno.

It made me tired, crampy, irritable, etc. And really put a cramp on my style of being able to work out again. 

I called my gyno and asked about it, as I honestly assumed that the hormonal changes my body was experiencing because of working out again was causing the bleeding. 

They essentially agreed and just said that if it got really bad or really painful I needed to come in.

And I was like well ok, this is dumb, but sure. I can deal with this. 

Fast forward a few months until spring of 2018, and all of a sudden my body pulled another fast one on me.

I went from having a period any time I was sore from working out to once a month, regularly.

And you might be thinking, hey, that sounds more convenient! That should be easier to deal with! That’s great!

See, you’d be thinking that, but you’d be wrong.

Because when that happened, my hormones went absolutely insane.

I turned into an insane rage monster of doom about a week before my period would start.

I felt completely out of control and at the mercy of my emotions.

And this wasn’t just your average mood swing.

I was becoming suicidal and practicing self harm.

Now, I’ve dealt with suicide before when I was a teenager. You know, when the entire world is out to get you and everything is extreme and you don’t understand anything and everything is terrible.

So I understood the basic premise. At that time, suicide felt like a solution to my misery. 

But this, this was different. I would get so angry my brain would tell me that I was so angry that I should kill myself.

Wait, what? That doesn’t even make sense

I did have one card up my sleeve though that proved essential in this situation.

For years (since fall of 2005) I practiced a very traditional martial art. All of my limits were tested, and with that, I found an extremely deep and profound knowledge of Self. 

The kind that you can only cultivate after being pushed to your limits and beyond, and still keep going.

The kind that gave me a clear, intuitive sense of my own body that made navigating Chronic Lyme at least possible.

The kind that’s able to speak up right in the middle of extreme hormonal throes and say, ‘Hey yo, uh, we don’t think this is right, something’s wrong here.’ 

This is critical. Had I not been able to step outside of myself and look in and realize that something was wrong, I may not have only just practiced self harm. I may have actually permanently hurt myself. 

The understanding of Self that martial arts gave me probably quite literally saved my life.

And, it made me aware that something was wrong and I needed outside help to figure out what was going on.

So I called the gynecologist since these manic depressive episodes seemed to be surrounding my period, and thought if she can’t help me, she can at least point me in the right direction.

But of course, having a chronic illness makes everything medical complicated. And everything that happens from here on out is a complete and utter, no-holds-barred, shit show.  

I’ll Be Honest, Shit’s Been Shitty Lately: Chapter 1

As human beings – and especially as entrepreneurs – we seem to be scared of our own pain. Scared to look at it, scared to process it, and most of all, scared to share it with others.

The fears surrounding why this is are numerous – afraid others will think we’re not capable, afraid they’ll think we’re crazy, afraid they’ll think we’re stupid for getting into whatever situation we got ourselves in in the first place, and afraid that people will respond negatively in a moment of vulnerability.

Or, even worse – afraid others will pity them.

I understand these fears, but I personally don’t hold them. It’s never really been my personality to give many fucks about what others think about me in general, let alone my pain. 

Which puts me in a unique position of being able to comfortably, and publicly, own my pain. 

And with that, I’d like to tell you a story about the last year of my life. 

If you’re sensitive to words like ‘uterus,’ ‘period,’ or have a hard time handling talk about self harm, suicide, and depression, you may want to turn back now.

For those brave folks who are still here, sit down and get comfy. This is a long story, but I’ve broken it up into chapters to give you some reprieve and tackle each piece at a time (otherwise a blog post that would encompass all of the story would be a small novel, and ain’t nobody got time fo’ that).

We’ll start at the beginning. At Chapter 1.

Chapter 1: Chronic Illnesses Are Fucking Dumb

This story technically starts back in 2011 when I contracted Lyme Disease. We’re not going to spend too much time talking this over, but it does intersect with the majority of the story so it’s worth mentioning.

Lyme disease, if you talk to most health care practitioners, will tell you that you take antibiotics for a short period of time after diagnosis and then you’re cured.

However, those with Lyme disease will tell you that’s some bullshit. 

If not treated properly (which mine was not), an acute infection of Lyme Disease can become a chronic infection, and create a myriad of problems. 

Neurological/nerve, digestive, cognitive, autoimmune, it runs the gambit. It’s known as the Great Imitator – it’s not uncommon to hear of people being treated for MS who in fact, don’t have MS – they have Lyme Disease, but their symptoms are mimicking those of MS.

The tricky part about Lyme Disease is it’s relatively new, as it was only named in the 1970s and the bacteria that caused it was only discovered in the 80s. 

From there, doctors believed that like most bacterial infections, it could be treated with a round of antibiotics and voila! You’re fixed!

And, well, yes, sometimes that will do the trick….if the infection is caught early enough, if the person was treated long enough with antibiotics, etc.

If not, Lyme Disease can jump the blood-brain boundary and infest the body with it’s bullshittery. 

However, research for how a chronic infection of lyme affects the body is completely and utterly lacking, for a myriad of reasons – funding, political, you name it.

And as you may have guessed, understanding the treatment of Chronic Lyme is even less understood.

It’s kind of like having AIDs in the 80s or 90s. No one really understands it, there’s a substantial lack of resources and research available, it’s highly politicized, and there’s no standardization of treatment.

The only difference is as we know, AIDs can lead to death, and it affects people’s sex life. But since Lyme Disease does neither of those things, the medical community doesn’t really seem to give two fucks. 

It also means the medical system is completely incapable of treating people with Chronic Lyme. Sure, there are people who claim that they can, but as I’ve already stated, there is no standardized form of treatment and worse, there are so many people out there selling snake oil trying to make a buck off of other people’s pain. 

There’s no insurance coverage for treatment of Lyme Disease beyond the original diagnoses and maybe some further testing and antibiotics, but nothing for Chronic Lyme.

You also cannot get disability payments for Chronic Lyme. And yes, Chronic Lyme can incapacitate a person to the point where they cannot work. 

I’m not going to go too far into my symptoms or how Chronic Lyme affects my life, but the biggest issues I have are:

  • chronic fatigue (meaning I get tired easily and have probably 50%-75% of the energy on any given day as the average person)
  • I get sick easy as my immune system is shitty
  • I have a lot of side effects for almost any non-OTC medication (and I will at least get a few side effects that aren’t even listed as side effects for various drugs)
  • I have some cognitive and neurological problems as well. 

I can’t go to the doctor, because the doctors can’t help me. It’s an invisible illness, so that means hardly anyone is willing to understand what I’m going through just because I don’t ‘look sick.’ 

Most frustratingly, every day is different: some days I might be fine, some days I might not. Some days certain things (like working out, staying up later, etc.) might be fine, and some days it might leave me totally wrecked the next day.

And, most terrifyingly, this could get worse at any time and render me unable to provide for myself. I have a friend who has Chronic Lyme whom was diagnosed with it years ago, treated and felt fine, until all of a sudden years later his health started declining for no reason the doctors could understand.

He was pursuing a PhD in anthropology at Purdue, and had to drop out, stop working, and is now completely supported by his wife because – guess what – he can’t get disability insurance.

It’s a fucking wild card and I never know what I’m going to get. And there’s no one I can ask about it, there’s no help I can get, and I have essentially no safety net.

I’m entirely on my own in dealing with this. 

Since 2011, I’ve figured out a lot of what I can do to help myself and keep myself on the up-and-up. I’ve learned about a lot of the warning signs of a flare up, and I’ve figured out how to Do Life (and business) with my unwelcome guest, Chronic Lyme Disease. 

So that being said, all is Not Lost. I quite enjoy my life and have done a bang-up job of creating the life for myself that I want. 

A lot of days I wake up thinking that this is what it must be like to win the lottery of life.

Well, except of course, recently. When things took a turn for the shittier and shittiest, out of the blue. 

And I’ll be honest, I’m a tough person, but I was not prepared for what happened next.

 

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