I was sitting in the office of an elderly surgeon I’d never met before, one I’d been advised by a friend in the medical industry to not see for surgery. “He’s old and stupid, and I wouldn’t let him anywhere near me with a knife,” I was told. But I was at the mercy of a Medi-Cal referral and after calling the referring doctor to ask if she might be willing to send me to a different surgeon, of which I gave her several names to choose from, I was told “no, sorry,” so I gave up because I am lazy and have enough distrust of the medical field that I figured one bad doctor wasn’t any different than most other doctors, so what the hell?
I listened as he explained to me how the simple surgery he believed I needed would be performed and bandaged afterward. I wasn’t paying much attention because these things tend to be explained more than once so I figured I’d listen when the time came to do so. And it sounded like it would be a while; he wanted to refer me to yet another office, this time for a mammogram and an ultrasound of my underarm, where the concerning issue lay nestled next to a pocket of fatty tissue. I was irritated.
It had taken me a while to get in to see the doctor, both times. My primary doctor – as assigned to me by Medi-Cal – only takes same-day appointments and you have to call first thing in the morning to have any chance of getting in. I have only one day off every other week for such things – Friday – and their office closes early on Fridays so their appointments fill up almost immediately. By the time I’d finally gotten in and then been referred to a surgeon, I had to wait another two weeks before I had a free hour for an appointment.
In short: I don’t have a lot of spare time for this kind of shit. I have two kids, work more than full-time, and have a fairly densely populated obligation calendar.
Finally, the doctor started talking about recovery. “You’ll want someone to drive you home,” he said, “and you’ll, uh, you’ll probably be able to go to work the next day.” Great, I thought. That sounds simple enough. “Most people I uh, I tell to take a week off, but since you’re self-employed I’ll let you go back after a day. I know how hard it is when you’re self employed.” What?!
And that was it. I decided to sell my store.
This is an idea I’ve been tossing around for about six months or so. I’ve owned my used children’s clothing store for nearly eight years, and I’ve loved it immensely for enough reasons that the meager income felt like a fair trade-off for the scheduling flexibility, free kids’ clothes, ability to bring my kids to work with me. But my son has outgrown my shop, and my daughter is about to, so I’ve been thinking, maybe it’s time to pass the torch?
As I do with major decisions or even what to eat for dinner, I hemmed and hawed and delayed and procrastinated. I wasn’t ready. What would I do next? How would I ever find something that was as personally satisfying and flexible as being self-employed had been?
But when I sat there and heard that people with normal jobs would be advised to take a week off after a surgery I was being verbally prepped for, but because I was self-employed I’d be going back after one day – I lost my head.
I’ve taken time off before. I try to take most of the days off that my kids are with me as opposed to their father. I’ve taken four days or a week off to go on vacation with my boyfriend, or even up to two weeks at a time to go visit my old home in the Midwest. And during that time, I’m not making money. I’m usually losing money, actually, because I have to pay someone to watch the store and often a slow day won’t even cover the payroll, let alone the other expenses that come along with running a business. But I suck it up by taking less money for myself, so that I can have those moments with my kids, my boyfriend, my childhood friends and far-away family.
But to pay someone to cover my shop while I’m just laying around letting my armpit heal after getting a ‘probably benign tumor’ cut out of it wouldn’t work for me. I’ll deal with less for the sake of my kids, my family, my boyfriend, my tropical vacations – but not for my own body.
I’m sure my elderly surgeon didn’t mean to send me into a tailspin of quick decisions and information gathering and furious action, but he did. Soon, my shop will go on the market, and hopefully the perfect person will come along to take it over and love it as much as I have. And while I have absolutely no idea what I’ll do for work after it sells, I do know that I’m going to take one week to just lay around my house.
Even though I don’t need to anymore.