Coffee Talks: Life Lately – Navigating Life’s Transitions After Getting Laid Off and Being Sick for a Week

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you are warm and cozy as you’re reading this. My blog is now coffee-focused, but I still aim to drop a few personal posts occasionally. I’m writing this on Christmas day, at my cousins’ house in Quezon City. It’s time for a life-lately post, and while I’m on it, I’ll be sharing my reflections of late.

Week-long sickness

I’d been sick these past few weeks, and if there was ever time I’d been sick this long, I don’t remember it anymore. I had COVID early this year, but the symptoms weren’t as bad. I ticked all the boxes for flu: fever, body pain, sore throat, colds, headaches, and cough. This could be the flu or COVID; I didn’t find out until seven days later when I finally decided to end my self-administered treatment.

Last Friday, I went to the doctor, who shot me a series of questions, e.g., family history of x, y, and z.

Then he got up from his chair, stood in front of me, and hit the flashlight of his mobile phone. He instructed me to open my mouth so he could check the back of my throat.

“It’s a viral infection,” the doctor told me with as much enthusiasm as a chair, “It’s inflamed and reddish, but that’s it,” he added, then went back to his chair to write me a prescription.

I sat there, dumbfounded, riddled with queries that didn’t escape my cranium.

That’s it? Aren’t you going to stethoscope the hell out of my lungs and chest? Aren’t you going to feel the nodules on the sides of my neck? Not even checking my temperature? Not going to ask for my blood, urine, stool, and, I don’t know, my kidney?!

He handed me the papers he was scribbling on; one was my prescription, the other to give to the nurse, and said, “You just had a viral infection. It’s not COVID.”

Wait what? Is it not COVID? You didn’t even swab my nose, and you already knew it’s not COVID? Again just inside my head.

So I got up, murmured a thank you, then went to the nurse’s station with the paper. I asked them to read the doctor’s diagnosis to me because, well, I can’t decode the doctor’s handwriting. I want the official hard-to-pronounce diagnosis.

The nurse looked at me confused, “This paper is for our copy; it’s for us.”

I’m not claiming it’s mine; I just wanted the diagnosis.

What I said, “I mean, can you tell me what’s wrong with me based on what’s written there?”

She replied, “The doctor didn’t tell you?”

Girl, read? What is this unnecessary dialogue?

What I said, “He said it’s a viral infection, but I wanted the name of the actual medical condition, please.”

The nurse looked down at the sheet, squinted her eyes, and passed it to another person, “I can’t read it.”

This bish…

The second person couldn’t read it, too, so they passed it to the senior nurse, who took one look at it and said, “It’s an acute respiratory tract infection.”

So only one nurse out of three can understand a doctor’s writing?

For the doctor’s consultation that was as uneventful as my love life, I paid ₱700 ($12.68). It didn’t take more than 5 minutes, he didn’t do much other than ask me questions, and he already earned 700 pesos. Man, I picked the wrong profession.

Not that I wanted to be sick, but I think it happened for a reason, or at least I’m choosing to look at it this way. For what it’s worth, this sickness has led me to an uncomfortable (possibly drug-induced) self-evaluation these past few days.

Before that doctor’s visit, I self-diagnosed it as flu and treated it the way I always did whenever I had flu. I overdosed on vitamin C, popped Biogesic like it’s candy, took Ascof Lagundi for my cough, and rubbed Vicks on my neck, chest, and back.

I think I’ve had a hand on why it had gotten worse. I had been quite busy with holiday-related activities, last-minute shopping, parties, and get-togethers. So I was always out and about, and I didn’t stop even when I first detected those early signs of a bug.

And the activities I had thrown myself into always involved people; lots and lots of people. Have you gone to the malls lately? Oh man, it’s the worse. There’s a clump of humans in every inch and corner; it should be illegal. There’s no escaping them, I tell you. Looking back now, I wish I had just ordered everything online so I didn’t have to endure getting squished by people, waiting in long queues, and wasting my life in traffic. Maybe then I wouldn’t have contracted this disease that had forcibly confined me in the four corners of my home for a week.

The only time I felt better was when I was sleeping, so that’s what I’ve been doing a lot these days. I seem to be making up for all sleep I’ve lost in the past decade. Sleep is magic; my body seems to forget I have a cough in la la land. Because my cough, damn, it’s the worse; it’s the reason I hate this flu so much. My cough was so bad the bones below my breasts hurt.

Every night I held a mini concerto of my coughing fit. Coughing is second to toothache in my list of most-hated maladies, even higher than menstrual cramps. There’s just so intrusive and unnatural about coughing every few seconds. You can’t speak, you can hardly sleep, your throat, head, and chest hurt, and you also disturb other people with all the noises you make. I hate it and always feel sorry for people suffering from it.

No WiFi at home

Fine, I’m stuck at home, but did I have to be disconnected too? Since Tuesday, my WiFi has stopped working. First, it was our whole building, then PLDT restored the line except mine. My neighbors started sending updates on our group chat that their WiFi was back. But what about me? Where’s my WiFi? What shit is this?!

How else can I self-diagnose my symptoms if I’m not connected to the Internet? How can I binge-watch a series as I wait for recovery and Google those pesky late-night questions if I don’t have the Internet? I can’t be sick and not have Internet too? For which sin am I paying this for?!

On a serious note, I need to access the Internet; I got freelance work that requires researching. Did I mention I got laid off from my job recently? This means I don’t have a stable source of income anymore, and that right now, I only get by with freelance work. But even that I cannot do because, again, no Internet.

So my online interaction was limited to messenger because that’s all my mobile provider’s signal can do. I asked my neighbors in our group chat if anyone would be so kind as to let me temporarily connect with their WiFi and that I’m willing to pay for it. I checked the group chat in anticipation but was met with crickets.

Charity is a prerogative, and nobody is required to help me, but I can’t help but be bitter that these people are so actively chucking their grievances on our GC, but when somebody needs help, suddenly they’re quiet.

So eff that shit. I left the group. Yes, I’m that petty. I could quickly die here, and nobody would know because my neighbors don’t frickin’ care.


The proverbial hole

But lately, I’m wondering if getting sick is part of my transition. I’ll explain it further, so apologies if you’re not onto spirituality, but I’m as much as I’m pragmatic, I’m also a bit whimsical; that’s me in a nutshell. So we’re going deep now, ready? Let’s go.

I caught myself counting tragedies instead of blessings. If you’ve had a series of them in a year, with an impact so significant it changes you, you can’t help but pay attention. Look, I also believe in the Law of Attraction, but with reason. And by that, I mean I’m not delusional, and I can’t seem to get myself as delusional as those who truly madly deeply subscribe to this law. And if you’ve gone through the rabbit hole of LOA, you know exactly what I mean.

I like to stay optimistic, but at the same time, I don’t want to be blindsided, which is why I have a tendency not to go all in. To me, and no offense meant to LOA practitioners, there’s nothing wrong with being human with flaws and doubts. If I don’t acknowledge my doubts and fears, I’ll be stripping away that part of my humanity, and I don’t want that. 

I have proofs I made LOA work for me: my house, going to Europe and working for a company with the best colleagues and salary, to name a few. I had envisioned them all before, and I genuinely believe that through LOA, I manifested them into my reality.

But did I dream about these with no doubts in my head? Of course not. There was always that part of me that wished but accepted that they may or may not happen. Eventually, I still got what I wanted despite having that bit of uncertainty in my head. So how did I get them if I didn’t 100% believe in them? The short answer is, well, it’s because I wanted to, so I made them happen.

I have always worked with my doubt instead of fighting against it. I know it’s there, but I’m the boss; I get to do what I want anyway. That European trip? It almost didn’t happen because of some circumstances. I had doubts it would still push through, but I was stubborn and went ahead. 

When I filed for a housing loan to get my condo, I wasn’t even a regular employee yet. Looking back, it was very irresponsible of me when I wasn’t sure if I would even cross the probationary period. I had doubts about paying it off, but did it stop me? Nope. I signed the papers and got that loan.

These are just a few samples to show what I mean about working with my doubts. Because I know myself, I’m not delusional. I don’t have the capability to have that unbending belief that something will work out. What I do have is faith, and I think that’s better. I would still make it happen despite not knowing the future or having the odds stacked against me.

The best way I could describe myself is that person who looks at another hole. If I could not go through the door or the window, I’d enter through the chimney. Can I fit through the chimney? Not sure, but you bet your A, I’ll try.

Getting laid off

Going back, I’m going through some serious transitions in my life. My role had been made redundant, so the company let me go. I’ve felt this coming if you can believe that kind of shit, but I held on even though I thought the universe was nudging me to move on since the beginning of this year. Career-wise I knew I was no longer growing. I worked for an Australian-based company, and most of the accounts that we handle are for government agencies, something that I couldn’t take as the contract required that they be governed by Australian citizens or residents, which I’m not, obviously.

I raised a relocation request to work in our office in Australia. The company had done this for some employees in the past, so I was like, hey, it could happen to me too. Then some things happened, and the bid was ultimately rejected, so there I was, back to zero.

I imagined the universe with an I told you so look.

Still, I held on. If they wanted me gone, they should let me go and pay me. And that’s precisely what happened.

But let’s get this straight, while I’m happy to receive severance pay; I’m not happy to leave the company. Yes, even when my career growth stopped, even when the team we used to have had been essentially dissolved, I was still sad to leave. The reason is that I loved that company. I met so many amazing people there, and I also noticed how much I had grown professionally and personally during my time there. But I do know it was time to move on. My redundancy is the universe’s way of saying it was time for me to let go. I needed that nudge because I had gotten too comfortable.

What now?

I call this a transition because I want to do freelancing and not return to working in the office. Finding another job in the corporate is the easiest option and one that makes more sense given my financial responsibilities, e.g., a housing loan. Still, right now, I don’t want to be comfortable. I want to be brave and challenge myself to wade into the unknown. I’ve seen people become successful freelancers, and while I have doubts it could work for me, I see it as a call to find another proverbial hole.

I’ve always dreamed about working from anywhere, owning my time, and traveling the world. This may be my chance. When will I get another opportunity like this? I’m 40 years old; I’m not getting younger anymore. The best time is now, so I will go ahead and do it.

So that’s the plan. I’ll take on freelance writing and editing; then, I’m going to take a barista course, which will take me a step closer to another dream of mine, owning a tiny coffee shop.

We only have a few days left before 2023, and while my dreams scare the shit out of me, I’m also quite excited to pursue them. I hope you will continue to join me in this journey in the coming year.

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  1. Wow. That was a smooth read. Ang galing mo talaga magsulat. Haha! Go for it, Mara. Kayang kaya mo yan. You have all the necessary skills to succeed. You just have to be brave and do it. Go go go! We believe in you.

    We’re your number one (two and three) supporters! 🙂

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