I Quit My Job

Posted: August 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

On August 9th, I gave my two week notice of resignation at my job. It was the right thing to do, I felt and feel peace about it and I felt the Lord leading me. Still, it has not been easy; I worked hard for and to keep my job despite immense challenges for 3.5 years.

Financially, I’m waiting for government assistance to kick in and holding my breath in the meantime. I think I can make it a few months if nothing else falls apart (car/wheelchair/myself/etc). God will provide my needs and I’m so grateful to those who have helped, even anonymously. Thank you, friends!

I need to focus on my health, remaining as physically independent as possible so as not to burden the church, and continue with several different therapies which make me unable to work at this time. In a year or more, I may be back in the game.

Yet after I’m done surviving the next few months of medical mayhem, I’m going to also take the time to re-evaluate my abilities, my goals, build up my professional skills so that I can make reasonable steps toward starting a CAREER in the future rather than just doing ANY job from home simply because it puts food on the table and that’s all I’m physically capable of doing.

I’m hoping that, despite the irony of relying further on taxpayers to support me, the SSI income will actually become my ticket to getting OFF the welfare system.  Getting off of welfare “cold turkey” will require a miracle the size of the parting of the Red Sea (they don’t make it easy – once you’re on, you’re kinda stuck…the whole system is royally screwed up and severely punishes those who want to work hard rather than stay on the system permanently…another story for another day).  So I see it as an investment of sorts which the government (i.e. TAXPAYERS – THANK YOU!) are putting into my professional future.

Additionally, if health permits, there may be things I can do volunteer-wise in the future which would more than justify the $700 per month I’d get from SSI.  Even if I’m never physically able to return to the traditional “job,” I can be an asset to my community and the people around me, and to the people in cyberspace (HI FOLKS!), in ways that I couldn’t do at the typical 9a-5p job by using my REAL (Jack Of All Trades) skill sets and gifts that God has uniquely given me as an individual.  I can be OK with that.  🙂  It makes me feel useful, productive; it satisfies my work ethic.

While working my part-time job and going through this most difficult season of CRPS/RSD horrors, I’ve not able to focus on my future career or goals beyond surviving today and planning for the next week or so, medically speaking.  That’s as far as planning and life go for me these days, sometimes not even that far (minute to minute!).  I need this time to REGROUP, RECOVER, and then I need time to REST, PROCESS what’s happened and is happening in my life (I’ve lived in “survival mode” for almost a year now, and I need time to emotionally and mentally recover when things start to calm down), and then START DREAMING AGAIN; those kinds of dreams that reach beyond today, the next week…into the next year, two, ten years.  Right now, I don’t have those dreams; my only dream is to survive until 2014 and that 2014 will be a better year for me…and that’s it, folks.

I think, before I became so sick years ago, I believed I could do a lot of things, not everything (like I’ll NEVER be a long-distance runner, no matter what you say!), but I had dreams and I’m not sure I even appreciated the fact that I HAD DREAMS that stretched into the future, with HOPE of them becoming realities.  As I became so sick, I felt like an utter failure.  The occupation I’d trained so hard in college to do, had poured my heart into because I cared for my patients…I could no longer do.  I went through years of unemployment and short temp jobs due to my inability to carry on typical job roles (like walking, standing, using a ladder as a file clerk, carrying things), sometimes making only about $300 a month, total, for several months in each year.  My confidence had taken nearly all the blows it could handle and while I did keep up with my adult responsibilities as much as possible, on the inside I felt miserable about my perceived failures and very depressed.  My ability to dream…DIED.  Actually, it suffocated slowly, writhed, then it DIED…in case you needed a more accurate mental picture – yes, you’re welcome.

I want the ability to dream to come back to me.  I am going to fight for it.  FIGHTING FOR HOPE.  Fighting for life.  Fighting to be a blessing rather than a burden.

Some things I’m really good at or hope to become better at include: Public speaking, computer programming, disability advocacy, assistive technology, lightweight IT admin, and helping businesses define their goals/audience(s)/marketing direction, and improving company image (hint: it usually doesn’t take much money…it takes brain power and excellent customer service, keeping promises, being prompt, and keeping your company message and motto clean, clear, and positive – if you want to know more, talk to me; it’s a hobby of mine and I’ve helped several businesses in the Triangle improve their company image significantly, thereby getting more return customers and more sales). I LOVE being a jack of all trades, super-creative, and I enjoy practical problem-solving.

So I’m excited, not about being unemployed currently, but by the AWESOME opportunities I may have, after medical crisis #276 is over, to really form my own CAREER game plan.  It’s like Fantasy Football – with my life being the “game”.

Because it was unprofessional for me to share the details of my life with my supervisors up to this point, I decided to share more information as I handed in my two weeks notice, below:

I’ve considered it such an honor and privilege to be employed through VFORCE and I want you to know that I am very grateful. I want you to know that I never once, that I’m aware of, ever took the privilege and blessing of my employment for granted. In fact, my job here has helped me contribute to society rather than mooch off of taxpayers; I’ve been resourceful and I feel that before God I’ve been honorable in using what gifts and abilities He has given me (despite my disabilities) to provide for my needs and bless others. Thank you for the blessing of employment you chose to give me.

And for those employees who don’t realize how blessed they are, please just remember that there are some of us who count you and our jobs among our greatest blessingsTHANK YOU FOR BEING WILLING TO HIRE PEOPLE WHO HAVE DISABILITIES, people who society has given up on, people who cannot find work any other way. You have given us a chance to prove that we’re more able than society suspects, and oftentimes more able and capable than we ourselves realize.
….
For a long time I’ve been fighting hard to keep my job and maintain the quality of the work I do for VFORCE so that it would not suffer due to my health problems. I feel it’s unfair to you, having given me so much, for me to allow my work to suffer because of my own issues. I’ve made daily sacrifices to make this happen. Over the course of the three years I’ve been working, I have also driven about 80 miles round trip to one of the major hospitals in my area (Duke, UNC, WakeMed, etc) for testing, therapy, and treatment. If you’re reading through the lines, that means drop-dead exhaustion, lots of pain, medical and transportation costs, and doctors who always give me really bad news and make my GI disorders worse because I hate seeing them. This is what happens all before my work shift begins most days, yet I have still shown up for work. I’ve left the drama at the door, if you will, to be pleasant to customers even when I’ve been told just 2-3 hours before my shift started that I have yet another incurable disease that’s progressive and for which there are few treatment options. I often worked from bed or while I was in so much pain most people would have literally been in the emergency room instead of working. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, which I don’t often share because I choose to be a survivor and not a victim. That’s a choice – TO BE A SURVIVOR AND NOT A VICTIM. And my point in telling you this is that I want to let you know that’s how much I love my job. I’ve done literally EVERYTHING for my job and to keep my job.

At the same time, I’ve had to realize that I’m not superwoman. Giving 500% in one category means I simply cannot give 500% in every other category in my life. And I’ve reached the unfortunate place where my health has deteriorated more and more each year as I’ve been employed due to the progressive nature of my conditions. My healthcare now requires 1,000% of my effort – I’m fighting for my life now, the hardest battle I’ve ever endured, and there’s no reasonable way for me to both maintain my job and keep up the fight to survive otherwise. Something has to give.

I may be having a very significant procedure called a Spinal Cord Stimulator implant to help control the pain of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy…. The good news is that if the stimulator trial goes well and I do get the implant, within thirteen to maybe seventeen months from the date of the implant, I may be able to manage employment again…. The stimulator wouldn’t remove my diseases, but it would make several aspects of my life more manageable so that I would have more time and energy to focus on things other than my health and pain avoidance 24/7.
….
My heart breaks at leaving my job, but I need to do it before my health conditions become more obvious while I’m working or due to absences making a mess of my otherwise good work history, which would hurt my chances at getting jobs in the distant future.

When I started the job, I chose “Boss *Force” as my password. Why?  I had to have a lot of self-control and “be my own boss” over many a shift when I could (should?) have called off, telling myself instead, “get through the next 10 minutes, ok you made it through, let’s go for another 10…you got this; you’re getting renewals (very slowly…but one is better than none), keep going!”. So I used the Force – tapping into the strength God alone gives me to make it through each minute of each day – to get through my shifts, with the goal of also blessing VFORCE with that same Force, “working as unto the Lord”.

           Colossians 3:23-24
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

So, after burning your eyes out with a multi-volume email, I’ll leave you with my life motto – “Don’t Waste Your Life!” – and a bit of Dory (who I’m starting to think might be my twin? – watch the video; you’ll forget your eyeball pain because you’ll have gut pain from laughing so hard):

JUST KEEP SWIMMING!

 

My supervisors’ response was incredible.  

The CEO of the company PROMISED me that whenever/if ever I’m able to work again, I’ve got a GUARANTEED job with her and not to worry; if she didn’t have a position open at the time, one would be CREATED for me.  My heart melted!  I was utterly blown away; a rush of emotions came and I cried out of gratitude.  I wished I could communicate to her how much it meant to me that she would help me get back to work in the future…

It was also special to me that the CEO told me she knew my disability was very advanced and suspected that I was the most disabled employee they’ve hired, and yet she said I’d brought the least amount of drama into the workplace; I’ve been consistent, courteous, and punctual.  Obviously she didn’t know the things I shared above, but considering that I’d worked for three and a half years, my supervisors were bound to pick up on hints here and there when I told them I was in and out of the hospital and trying to make up missed shifts, sometimes even working an extra shift a week before the day I needed to take off for a doctor’s appointment.  She said she used me as a role model for others and that I often came up at staff meetings because of my work ethic and example – they all agreed that I am truly an inspiration to them and to other employees!  I was so touched, felt so valued by her feedback and confirmation of a job well done.  

While sad, I let out a BIG SIGH OF RELIEF after I faxed/emailed my resignation letter.  When the fax machine said “beep” to confirm receipt of my letter, a tentative and somewhat exhausted smile crept over my face.  “Ahhh….I did it.  It’s done, it’s official.”  Then, emotionally and physically exhausted, I crashed into bed.  🙂  To not have to pretend for hours on end that “everything’s okay” – and I’m feeling well and chipper (it was sales after all), even when in reality I felt like I was going to croak at any moment – is a HUGE relief.

I didn’t immediately share this information with friends or family.  My therapists and doctors knew (and my doctors have long held the position that physically I shouldn’t be working while mentally/emotionally it was of significant value to me), and one close friend knew and also supported my decision.  Yet it was a personal decision between me and the Lord, and I needed mostly to talk to God about it and to check in with my conscience and my friend who knew me well.  Interestingly, my doctors all told me, “Don’t feel bad about having to give up your job.  SSI assistance is MADE FOR PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU – you are the PERFECT candidate, and we know you won’t be one to sit around on your butt all day long; it’s just not in you because you have a strong work ethic.  We hope in a few years you can get back to work, sorry you’ve been so sick.”  They are right, and their confirmation comforted me.  

It was a few days after I made the decision and had already sent in my resignation that I began sharing it with a few close friends, then more people, and finally on Facebook and now here.  Most folks have responded well, and those who haven’t responded tactfully simply don’t know (or don’t WANT to know) the details that lead up to this decision and necessity, which is their problem and not mine (they can keep their “tackiness” and I’ll let it roll off my shoulders).

Part of me didn’t want to share the news initially because I didn’t have a clear sense of what the general consensus of responses might be.  I also didn’t want to have to explain it all or feel like I needed to justify my decisions to other people, which would have been an additional stress.  Once it was over and done and I could say, “my two week notice of resignation was sent in a week and a half ago,” it could be considered a tad rude for people to be telling me I’m doing it all wrong or even just sharing their highly opinionated opinions about a very personal and done-deal issue.

I was glad I let my emotions about the situation settle a bit before telling others.

I want the ability to dream to come back to me.  I am going to fight for it.  FIGHTING FOR HOPE.  Fighting for life.  Fighting to be a blessing rather than a burden.

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