Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Month 2 - adjusting

The theme for month two of my leave from work to deal with my medical issues was really more of the same and adjustment.

I realized that since I had been working around the clock, I had spent so much time reading technical, uninteresting, dreadfully painful, hundred plus page documents to keep my head above water, that I had actually stopped reading for fun years ago. I used to read all the time - and I mean ALL the time...Goodness sake, I always wanted to be a writer - and you don't want to be a writer without wanting to read everything you can get your hands on.

So I started reading. And reading. And reading. I followed a couple of Oprah's book club recommendations - one in particular was The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I was focused on books that would help me mentally and emotionally escape and reconnect to myself. This was a critical read - and the timing was perfect, as my read of the book followed Oprah's online seminars with the author himself. I read the book, and then I watched the seminars online, practiced centering myself, and it helped me absolutely focus on healing myself. It gave me enough quiet space in my mind and in my home and in my hands to breathe, and refresh my mind.

The other book that I read which happened to be coincidental to Oprah's promotion of the book through one of her shows was, The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch. These two books together, changed the way my rehabilitation could have gone. In his book, Randy spoke honestly and frankly and openly about dealing with his terminal cancer, and determined that his legacy could and would not be just the job or just the cancer. At the same time that I was struggling with my diagnosis, and unclear about my next steps, what became clear in my experience of these two books helped me resolve that I would not follow the footsteps of my mother (who chose to deal with her depression by quitting work, and sticking only with her medication to help her strike the even keel). I knew after having read those books, that I was still meant to do something with my life, that I was still (unhappy and sick as I was), not going to let the depression eat me up, and stick me out on the end of the couch with the potatoe. Coincidentally, Randy passed away not but a few weeks after I finished reading the book. If he had not been alive and doing as well as he was when I read the book, I don't know that it would have had the same affect on me. I am eternally grateful to a man that I never had the opportunity to meet, but whom I admired for his sensitivity to his family's loss and pains in being caregivers, his pragmatism on how to change the course of his legacy, and eternal optimism to choose life when cancer was knocking the hell out of his body.

I also reminded myself that just 5 years ago, I had thought long and hard about starting my own business. I decided then to open my own wedding planning business so that I could put my efforts and time into something that would give me pleasure and that would benefit me instead of the rich man, and that would help my mom find some purpose in her days by being able to work with me. This also meant that I was able to keep my mind sharp throughout my recovery, and that I was able to develop my skills further during sabbatical, hopefully improving my chances of making a career change post recovery.

The one thing that hampered all the progress I was making (which can be viewed as a good thing or a bad thing), was the constant pushing from the insurance group hired by my company to track the progress of my condition/treatment...and the constant doctor's appointments. I was seeing doctors or talking to insurance case workers at least every other day. The pressure to push through and just get back to work was incredible, and incredibly painful. And in fact, was a contributing factor I think to the reason why it took me 14 months to finally be able to return.

I think that if something comes from my writing all of this, I'm hoping it will be insurance and corporate reform in how they manage medical leave with their valued employees. Never in my career with this company, had I felt more like a useless, pain in the ass number, as I did when I was at the lowest point in my life medically. I certainly didn't feel support despite their claims that this was their intentions in following up.

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