Friday, November 13, 2009

Wow! What a week! CNA class started on Monday. We sit in class for 4 hours and have one 10 minute break, there is that much to cover. Unbenownst to me, I had to have a TB test which required a trip to the county board of health. Next week, I register for Anatomy class. I spent some time making sure my login to the college website works and chose the session I wanted to take which will be M from 6-9 and Wednesday from 6-7:45. I took Emily to the behavioral therapist for her session. I took me to my clinic visit at the U of C. As of right now, I am the U of C patient who has been on the trial the longest, almost one year. WOW! There are some negotiations that my clinic visits might get less frequent. WOOHOOOOO! It would be so nice NOT to travel back and forth once or twice a month. My next scan is the week of Dec 18. I will get results after CHristmas which is a small blessing. Yesterday, I went to the college to take the Math assessment. As it's been over 20 years since I have seen an Algebra problem, they would not accept any Math credits taken in college or high school as a satisfaction of the Math requirement for the Nursing program but, they did allow me to take an assessment test. If I tested high enough, the Math requirement would be waved. I sat down and started at it. Some questions were easy but as I went along, the problems got harder and harder. OMG! I'm sunk, I thought to myself. I was fully prepared to go home and peruse the catalog looking for a class that I could fit in. When the test was over, I walked over to the administrators for my results and found out...I TESTED OUT!!! I was dumbfounded! Turns out that every time I answered a problem right, the next problem would be harder. I did so well in Algebra, they were testing me on Advanced Math. Not only did I test out of college Algebra, I tested out of the first Semester of the Advanced class. Knock me over with a feather!

Today, I am writing up my accomplishments for the year at my full time job. I work for a large Telecommunications Company. Until recently, I was pretty proud of all that I acheived here. When I started at the company in 1995, I was newly separated, raising two small children, working 3 jobs, had filed a recent bankrupcy and was fighting with the red tape of debt and divorce. I was in the process of switching my career from Restaurant Management to a career to be named later and accepted a job as a Customer Service Rep with a small company called Advantis, an IBM/Sears merger, that focused on Network and LAN support for the Sears family, retail, Dean Witter, Coldwell Banker, Allstate and Sears. I can't tell you how intimidated I was by this job and in fear, I almost didn't take it. I had a wonderfully supportive boss who I liked a great deal and little bit by little bit, I learned the job well enough to be promoted to team leader. I was good at it. Good enough to be recognized and I was then promoted to Network Support where I worked for 5 years. I liked every single one of my bosses. I liked the company. I felt as if I was part of a team and that my presence mattered. My bosses wanted me to learn as much as possible and encouraged classes, encouraged reaching for the next level, encouraged me to do as good a job as possible. This was the field that I wanted. TELECOMM! Glorious routers! Fun circut testing! CCNA Classes! In 1999, we were sold. Jobs went overseas. MANY jobs went overseas in 2004. I was spared and was then working in Procurement and for the most part liked my new boss but, the organization was split in 2005 and I was moved to a different organizational tier with a new boss. Centers were closed. Co-workers were sent overseas to train their replacements, then laid off. To prove my worth, to compete with cheaper labor overseas, we all worked like dogs. THe company never told us we were worth anything. OH sure they sent out the mails telling us how great we did and then months later, they would announce the new job cuts. They did tell us yearly that more cuts would be made, more jobs would be offshored and outsourced and we all got used to living in the uncomfortable position under the axe. I lived in fear of lay off. I fretted every mistake. I worked hours and hours and hours. Then, I was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. My boss rallied around me while I went through that. Despite treatments, I put in a 12-14 hour day. If I worked any less, I felt I wasn't pulling my weight. Nevertheless my reviews for all those hours were "Meets expectations" with a nice write up about all the great things I did to show the higher ups that I did something that year. I went on disability on Oct 1, 2006. I went through surgery. I returned to work on Dec 1, 2006. I waited for my life to return to what it was before it was rudely interrupted. It never did. I tried a new role and did fairly well but my heart wasn't in it. I was put on a large account that challenged every fiber of my being. Then I was diagnosed with lung mets and returned to treatment. My boss is weary of what she calls my "Personal issues". In July, after 14 years of good reviews, I received my first negative one. My personal issues, she said, interfered too much. I didn't do this. I didn't do that. I made too many mistakes. It was all a failure. Today, I am writing my accomplishments for the year. I look at my 5 page write up of what I did at work this year, all the purchase orders I created, conference calls I was on, problems I identified and realize that all those things are just a bunch of gobblity gook that reflect no accomplishment that means anything. There is nothing that I write on that sheet, no statistic I can show my boss that reflects the REAL accomplishments and successes. I know she doesn't get it. SHe's crunching numbers. She's spitting out a formula that measures out how much I was worth based on some rubric defined by Six Sigma. Dear boss, if you find this blog, here are my real accomplishments.
1) I showed up to work every day. Somedays were hard. Somedays, I was tired and lightheaded because of my medications but I was there, sitting in my desk, trying to handle the diagnosis, the medication and the huge work load I had. No other employee handled, could handle, nor would handle what I did. I'm sorry if you feel it wasn't good enough. I gave all I had. I can say that with no guilt. I know there are things I could have done better but I did the best I could with what I had to work with.
2) I am no longer afraid of a swinging axe. I'm facing cancer. You're not. If the worst thing that can happen to you is a layoff, you are lucky.
3) I learned how to LIVE with cancer. Most people fear those of us who have cancer, shy away, back away, treat what they don't understand and fear the most with disdain. I've had my share of that this year. I hope you never find out what it is like to be a patient. I hope your boss spares you some of the same treatment I got this year if you ever are. I love my friends with cancer and love my friends without it. I've mourned many losses this year. I've watched children and adults, young and old die. Their stories are a part of me. You never knew how much I mourned or how often but I was here every day, at my desk.
4) I accept that there are worse things than death. Not living and foraging forward, learning, being stuck in one place, is far scarier. I am foraging forward and I am not afriad.
My job was a constant in my life and for now, I am doing it. I will do what I am told. THere was a quote I had at my desk for many years. It said, "The Lord will never leave you empty. WHen He asks you to put something down, He wants you to pick up something greater." I am breathless waiting to see what that something greater is but it doesn't mean I'm not mourning what I am being asked to put down.


"Just" Joe said...

Did you make the T-Day reservation?

Sue G said...

In life, showing up is difficult all the time. In a life with cancer, showing up all the time is a Herculean feat. And I know you, Kathy, you didn't just show up in the physical sense. You were there emotionally, physically, spiritually, intellectually. You showed up. Every single day.

When I first started my cancer journey, all God asked of me was to show up and be a light. I didn't understand what that meant at the time. I do now. And in comparison I realized that there were numerous days before cancer when I wouldn't or couldn't show up and be the real me.

To think you did it consistently, through divorce and single parenthood, through cancer, through days when I suspect money was tight and your heart was broken and defeated from all you had to face. Yet, you showed up. In every aspect of the meaning of that phrase.

I'm sorry your boss doesn't see it as clearly as I do. But I am very grateful that you see it...that you know all you have been through and all you have accomplished...and who you were and are through it.

Erin said...

You are amazing! I couldn't do what you have done. When Maura got sick, I switched to part-time, and even then, I was usually just going through the motions, unable to think straight or solve problems. You manage to do it all. And I want to tell you that ywhen you feel you can't make it, others are surely there, waiting in the wings, ready to lift you up and see you through. You have had a stellar year! Lots of love and prayers, Erin

Elsa D. said...

Dear Kathy, Your accomplishments are incredible! I don't know how you do it. Stay strong.