Changing careers became a necessity after my CAD diagnosis

Finding a job that is fulfilling, but not physically taxing, is a challenge

Mary Lott avatar

by Mary Lott |

Share this article:

Share article via email
banner image for Mary Lott's

“Wear your old clothes tomorrow, something you can get dirty,” I instructed my sixth graders. We were studying a unit on archeology and planned to enter a cave to see what was there.

One of the pleasures of living in Papua, Indonesia, is that a lot of World War II history occurred here. The caves in the ridge where our school was built were created by one of the occupying forces.

We hiked down the hill and forded a shallow stream twice — once to follow the path to the cave’s opening, and again to reach the cave. We proceeded with our “dig,” documenting what we found as we went along. Several hours later, we reversed our course to return to the classroom.

Before I developed anemia, which was a forewarning of my cold agglutinin disease (CAD), I’d often have teaching activities like this. We did a lot of exploration and demonstration. But, as my symptoms progressed, I developed a more sedentary teaching style.

Recommended Reading
banner image for Mary Lott's

Why technicolor fingertips spell trouble for CAD patients

CAD is an autoimmune hemolytic anemia. The first manifestation of it often is tiredness caused by anemia. When I was cold, my fingers and toes developed a technicolor hue and were mottled with blue and red spots. This is known as acrocyanosis, another symptom of CAD.

Since then, my energy levels haven’t returned to what they were before. In 2018, I left my teaching job to travel home to Alabama, where I was diagnosed with CAD, which ended my teaching career. Although I enjoyed my students, I just didn’t have the energy to continue.

Searching for a new path

I constantly need to be doing something. The days become tedious when I don’t have a goal or a project to work on. Therefore, I’m searching for meaningful work that I can do while sitting down, or even from my bed. I need projects where I can control my environment and that don’t involve physical labor.

I have found some career paths that fit my parameters, such as designing websites. I’ve already built some, and I’m currently studying to take my skills to a higher level.

Other possible careers include being a call center operator. One specific job in this category would be processing online payments for clients. Another job along this path that appears ideal for us “CADdies,” as those of us with CAD call ourselves, is aiding workers who’ve had difficulties maintaining their employment. A phone operator tracks the workers’ progress as they progress back to full-time work. This job enables someone to work from a home office.

Eight 911 operators from Texas pose for a group photo in their office. Six are standing and two are kneeling in front of them. All are women.

A group of 911 operators in Bryan, Texas, celebrate National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week the second week in April. Kneeling from left is Melissa and Makenna. In the back row, from left, are Amanda, Katlyn, Kathleen, Maria, Jamie, and columnist Mary Lott’s daughter, Beth. (Courtesy of Seth Waller, public information officer, Bryan Police Department)

If I were looking for more human interaction, I might consider being a 911 operator. This job can’t be done at home, but it does allow the employee to actively help others.

911 operators are often the first voice people talk to during an emergency. I asked a 911 operator about the physical qualifications for the position. An applicant must pass a CPR certification test. Apart from that, the operator opined that even someone as sedentary as I am may very well fulfill the work requirements of this very important job.

I did an internet search for other employment opportunities. Jobs involving creativity scored high on the list. Artists, potters, graphic designers, and architects were suggested. Also, if a person has a good imagination and knows how to add a verb to a noun, they may consider becoming an author. As I looked at the various careers, I realized there are myriad venues to consider.

What I’m doing

After spending some time perusing various jobs, I glommed onto two possibilities. Firstly, I’m planning to apply for more freelance writing jobs. I enjoy writing this column and would like to do more. Secondly, I could tutor students online. By actively pursuing employment, I can say that being sedentary doesn’t mean that I have to be silent.

Having an occupation that allows me to contribute to my family’s finances and interact with others gives me tangible evidence to contradict my occasional feelings of uselessness. This is an active way to help myself, and I feel in control of my life and my disease.

Note: Cold Agglutinin Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cold Agglutinin Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cold agglutinin disease.


Hazel Schmidt avatar

Hazel Schmidt

I knit a lot and donate especially

Mary Lott avatar

Mary Lott

I am impressed! There are a lot of people who benefit from donations of knitted goods. You have a gift to others. There are ways of being involved even when we don’t go out. Good job!


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.