I’m Susan Steele and I’m 50+ years old. I’ve been a member at St. John’s (there was no San Juan’s at the time) since I was a teenager. I was confirmed, and did many things with the youth group. At the time, I was very involved with the with the choir, and did several musicals with the church. Unfortunately, I became less involved with the church scene and more involved with the bar scene.
At 19 years of age, I began working with the State of Texas. Then 19 years later, I was laid off from a job I had loved most of my working life. After a 6 month job search, I ended up back with a different State agency. In my new job I began to understand that being laid off had been a God-send. I realized I never would have left the old agency if I hadn’t been let go. I also saw that my job had been slowly killing me. My bosses were horrible, my benefits, though good, were worse than I thought.
My new job was positive, my bosses were good as gold, and my benefits at the new agency became evident after my diagnosis, at the age of 40, of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). . They gave me 6 months leave with pay, whereas my old job would have made me retire much sooner than I had planned. That 6 month leave gave me time to plan my retirement on my terms. I applied for disability and was able to say my goodbyes, and most of all, it gave me time to become used to my “new normal”.
Through MS I lost my independence, freedom, and my ability to do art traditionally. My speech became slurred, I tired quickly, and I lost a lot of my vision. The black cloud of depression seemed to follow me around. Through MS I have also learned that miracles still happened and mine included a new job with compassionate people and generous benefits. Never think that it’s over. Remember, you must endure the night to wake to a new and glorious day.