A Charlotte sports talk radio station used to have a pair of morning drive hosts that used a sound machine to insert little 1 to 4 second clips to emphasize a point. For example, when a player who was constantly injured would suffer his latest injury, they would say, “(Player name) will miss the next game with an injury,” then play a sound byte from “The Simpsons” – news anchor Kent Brockman saying, “this barely qualifies as news.” There were over 1,000 clips on that sound board. My all-time favorite is what sounds like a 1,000-year-old man saying, “I’m in tremendous pain here!” They would often use this one in recaps of Carolina Panthers or Charlotte Hornets games when the local team was on the verge of losing after having a very big lead – as in, the coach and/or GM is now thinking, “I’m in tremendous pain here” as the team tries to hang on and secure the lead.

This little snippet of comedy finds itself at home in my house. My wife lives in constant pain from her spinal stenosis and neuropathy that is a side effect of her cerebral palsy. I have my share as well, as I have had arthritis in both of my knees and have known for nearly 20 years that I will eventually need total knee replacement for both of them. No one wanted to consider replacement when I was in my 30s, expecting I would become so active I would wear the replacements out in 10-15 years. Once I made it to my mid-40s, the problem was my excess weight, that I might develop fatal complications during or after the surgery. Now I’m approaching age 50 and am 80 pounds lighter. Now the issue is being able to pay the insurance deductible. More on that later.

Issues have become more acute recently. As I have gone through some struggles in building my business, money has been hard to come by. We have a very impressive pile of unpaid medical bills, which is preventing both of us from getting some needed treatment. Her nerve pain is at an all-time high. My arthritis, which had calmed down a lot as I have lost weight, came back with a vengeance recently. I was out running errands one morning and was about to cross a busy street on the way home. I waited for the light to change and was headed across. Someone coming the other way had stomped on the accelerator to try to get through before the light turned red. I switched from walk to run, but tripped and fell. I fell in such a way that every one of my 205 pounds landed on my right knee. A major adrenaline rush kicked in and I hopped right back up. Several drivers slowed down as they were passing me to ask if I was OK. I assured them I was, and headed on home. It was about a 7-minute walk. By the time I got home, the adrenaline had worn off and that “I’m in tremendous pain here” sound byte was fully applicable. By the next morning, I was walking with a pronounced limp and some very intense pain, but there was no swelling and no indication anything was broken. Since then, some days it hurts more than others. I suspect I’ve torn my ACL, but again, old medical bills and that big ol’ deductible keeps me from getting it checked out.

Word of our financial troubles is making the rounds among our family, friends and church. Our families – both AnJanette’s and mine – have been absolutely fantastic. They have been 100% supportive in what we’re doing, have contributed financially when they could, and have given words of encouragement as I continue to build. Others outside the family have become more skeptical, inferring that I need to pull the plug and go out and get a real job. In our VA 101 Mastermind group today, we talked about people that you perceive think, “I’ll be a Virtual Assistant, cuz it’s kinda cute.” Anyone who has ever started their own business knows there is nothing “cute” about it, and that it is normal to struggle in the beginning. I give a major eye roll to the “WORK 2 HOURS A DAY AND MAKE TENS OF THOUSANDS A MONTH” fairy tales you see online frequently. Working from home requires you to work just as had as when you go to an office or other job site. So why do it? Often it’s a requirement of your circumstances. For me, AnJanette cannot be left alone for 3, 4, or 8 hours a day. Her mobility is now so limited that she cannot get out of bed by herself; she has to have assistance. Therefore, I have to be here. So at this point, even if I did decide to declare myself a failure and need to go back out and work for The Man, I would be unable to do so because I can’t leave my wife alone for any length of time. My only option is to make this work at home venture a success.

And it WILL be a success. As I continue to write – here in this blog and in the little bit of freelance work I have been able to land – my confidence in my writing is growing. I can also still do some general VA tasks, because working as a corporate admin for well over 20 years shows I can handle those things. It’s going to work out.

Almost any seminar or other learning avenue an entrepreneur will use will have a “go back to your why” element, where you stop for a moment to remember why you started your journey. It helps you re-focus and re-energize if things aren’t going well. I’ve been able to do that in recent days and I’m committed to making this a success. I’m here to help other business owners become more of a success by partnering with them to take some things off their to-do-list so they can be more efficient with their time growing their businesses.

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