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Leaving My Dream Career after Myasthenia Gravis

I became very passionate about archaeology before applying to colleges. I was utterly excited to pursue it as a career.

In addition to my college courses, I spent many hours throughout my undergraduate years volunteering in order to build up my resume and connections with professors. I was aiming to get into a great graduate school, all of which ultimately didn't happen after I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (MG).

My diagnosis was a major roadblock

I was diagnosed a few weeks before the start of my last semester. Many sources supported taking the semester off to focus on my health, including my parents, MG articles, and people with MG who I connected with on social media.

However, working on my honors thesis and the intensity of a full load of senior courses had pushed me into burnout. I was pretty certain that if I skipped even a semester, I likely would not return and finish my degree, which was just out of reach.

What does MG mean for my career?

After a 5-day round of IVIG and starting Mestinon, prednisone, and CellCept, I was stable enough to proceed with class. In my favor, classes had been fully switched to online that spring when the COVID-19 pandemic started.

At the start of the semester, I focused most on navigating my MG symptoms and my classes. Later in the semester, I started reading more about experiences with MG and the reality of chronic disease. I began considering what MG meant for my archaeology career.

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Could I pursue my dream career?

I participated in an archaeological field school for 6 weeks in college. I knew the harsh conditions and long hours involved in surveying, digging, sifting, and being in the sun for 8 or more hours.

When it was time to present my honors thesis to department staff and professors, they widely encouraged me to continue my career in archaeology despite my new MG diagnosis. After my presentation they provided many MG-friendly archaeology job suggestions. That all sounded encouraging, but it also made me heartbroken. My dream career was doing archaeological fieldwork and site research.

I had to be realistic. If I continued with a career in archaeology the way I had envisioned, I could face multiple myasthenic crises or daily symptoms that could prevent me from doing the fieldwork aspect of the career. Would continuing on that path fulfill my dream? Or would it set me up for unnecessary struggles on top of my health?

Finding a new track

After my diagnosis, I was struggling immensely with doubt about my future. It took me a while to consider a new career path.

I decided to try a couple of sessions with a chronic disease-focused life coach. They helped me formulate a plan to get me back on track finding a new normal with MG. From there, I had some career goals that accommodated MG and tools to help me feel more confident and motivated to start taking baby steps to get there.

Focusing on my long-term happiness

A few years before MG, someone taught me a jewelry technique I wanted to do as just a hobby. I never went to art school despite my artistic talent. I was of the firm belief that life as an artist meant life as a "starving artist," as they call it. Yet here I am, 3 and a half years after my MG diagnosis, putting my energy towards a fine jewelry business, painting business, and adventure blog. I'm also about to jump into real estate flipping with my partner!

Jewelry making

Making jewelry is something I can do sitting down. And if I do not feel well enough to attend markets or festivals, selling online is perfect. I can also order online and ship all my supplies to my home so I do not have to exert myself going to stores.

Painting

I have adapted my painting style to be looser and abstract to accommodate arm weakness, and I paint on larger canvases so I do not get frustrated with small details. I am prioritizing reproduction print sales of my paintings so that if my symptoms or a crisis disables me from being able to paint, I can still make an income. I have my mom or partner help with shipping and picking up prints.

Building a blog

Blogs are often slow to build up to the point where it generates income. But I thought, why not start now? I have been working on gathering content and writing for an adventure blog run by me and my partner for the last 2 years. The ultimate goal is generating income from affiliate links in our blogs and social media sites in which companies reimburse us for a percentage of the sales that transpire from our site.

Home flips

While I am currently in remission and my boyfriend is in charge of the majority of the project, we are doing some home flips. We then hope to purchase a property or 2 to rent out and put some consistent income in our pockets. Houses can often be flipped for small profits at a minimum. Sometimes they require no work at all, or just a few small projects if you score a good deal to flip.

Considering MG-friendly career options

If you are considering leaving your current career for an MG-accommodating job, evaluate whether your dream career is still your dream with MG involved. Does it provides you with long-term happiness?

If you are interested in an MG-friendly self-employed avenue, assess the skills you already have. What product can you put your energy into when you feel good? What do your MG symptoms allow you to do or create that you can then sell online?

In my opinion, the best scenario is if you can think of a digital product that sells itself repeatedly after making it once. As I mentioned, I am pursuing painting reproductions, blog affiliate links, and eventually rental properties.

Sometimes, the things we are destined for are better than we could have imagined... and it may have just taken MG to change our direction.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Myasthenia-Gravis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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