The update I've been dying to post!
After a very, very long an intense 2023, orders are finally caught up and going out on time, and we've got live chat back!
So, what happened exactly?
Well, it started in August 2022. A larger unit in my apartment community opened up so myself and my partner in both business and life moved from our tiny 1 bedroom into the much larger 2 bedroom, which we were initially thrilled about finally having the space for an actual work studio and more room for storage and for our cats to roam. Unfortunately we split shortly after due to irreconcilable differences, leaving me entirely on my own running every aspect of the business for the first time since early 2019. And further unfortunately, my health started to decline fairly rapidly and by the end of the year I was struggling to function through severe fatigue, insomnia, worsening heart issues, and worsening major depression/anxiety among a long list of smaller issues. I landed in the ER a few times when I couldn't get my blood pressure and arrhythmias under control, and despite extensive testing and medication adjustments we couldn't get it to remain stable or figure out the root cause. I'd make medication/supplement and lifestyle changes, feel better for a few weeks, then start going downhill again.
This finally came to a head at the start of April when I collapsed in my home and was rushed to the hospital. I ended up with an injury to my right leg from it being dislocated and out of the socket for over a week, which caused rhabdomyolysis and permanent nerve damage (CRPS). The rhabdo, as it will, took down my kidneys that were already strained due to the heart issues and I ended up admitted and on emergency dialysis for several weeks until they were able to get me into outpatient dialysis and I was discharged towards the end of April. I remained on dialysis until the end of May and numerous medication changes were made along with adding in intense vitamin supplementation as my gastroparesis had reached a level that I wasn't digesting or absorbing nutrients from *anything* anymore, leading me to be severely deficient in everything someone can be deficient in. However, once again, my health started to decline not long after coming home and I finally had to start considering environmental factors. I brought someone in to have testing done in the home to try to find the cause and lo and behold...the landlord had not done the mold remediation they said they had done during renovations before I moved in. I had spent nearly a year living in extremely high levels of toxic mold. The mold damage was so extensive there was no way to remove it with the unit occupied, and being that I'm extremely sensitive to it staying there any longer just wasn't am option. I had to without notice move myself, my cats, and all my work into short term housing while I found a suitable long term rental. I moved into that rental at the start of November, and here we are three months later and my health has not only held steady, but continued to improve. The nightmare is finally behind me.
One of the biggest struggles I've had since the split in 2022 has been finding reliable help. The order volume is far, far beyond what one person can handle and even before my partner and I split we'd been considering hiring someone. I'm now on my 4th assistant in the last year, so between the struggles with my health and not having consistent help orders had gotten extremely backed up. When I finished dialysis and got back to a regular work schedule at the start of June I had 380 open orders. To make matters worse, in mid February I'd taken my car in to have brakes and tires done and the mechanic messed up, causing my entire wheel to go flying off down the road while I was driving. The repairs and rental car I'd had to get for the weeks it was at the mechanic, combined with the unexpected emergency move and inflation (the metal market alone took a historic 30% jump during the weeks I was hospitalized) had completely wiped the savings I had set aside for exactly these kinds of emergencies, forcing me to run a sale to cover the expenses of getting supplies ordered and shipping labels to get everyone's orders to them, adding to the already seemingly insurmountable mountain of orders ahead of me.
Thankfully a close friend of mine started working with me, though only part time, to help me clear the orders and get everything organized and back on track. She's been working with me since June part time, and will likely be coming on full time in the coming months as she wraps up with her current job. We've had a lot of hiccups along the way-I ended up with a herniated disc from the move and was laid out in bed for a couple weeks, I've faced frequent delays with supply shipments, twice now I've had equipment malfunctions destroy batches of hundreds of titanium splints, the 2023-2024 holiday mailing season was the worst since the start of covid with dozens of orders going missing or being damaged during shipment. More recently we've been struggling with severe weather and flooding preventing my assistant from making it in, slowing down the shipping process and putting me further behind, and I've been fighting through issues with my messaging system that WIX hasn't had any answers for, necessitating the temporary shutdown of the live chat feature I have so proudly offered for the last several years (which I plan to have back up and running within the next couple weeks). But overall the majority of orders have gone out within their normal timeframe since August, with large orders taking a bit longer than usual and titanium being delayed due to the sheer volume of orders and the additional processing time titanium requires.
Since June, save for those few weeks in November I was laid out, I've worked 12+ hours a day every single day. For seven months, nearly 8 now, I've worked solid 80-90 hour weeks without time any off whatsoever. And we did it. With sheer determination and endless patience, we brought operations back in line just in time for the new year.
And I'm very much looking forward to having time off again, working normal hours and having time to finally unpack and put my new home together. Though I suspect at this point I'm going to feel quite lost for a while adjusting to not having work to do all day every day.
I want to thank everyone again for their patience during this difficult and tumultuous time, it's appreciated more than you know!
Here's to making 2024 our best year yet <3