Sunday, July 31, 2011

It is now August 2011

and it has been seven months since I have posted  -  I stopped posting mostly because it was too hard. Too hard to remember all that was going on, too hard to write it when I did remember. Shortly before I finished radiation my job at Boeing was threatened (and so was my health insurance) so I had to make a rapid decision to take a Boeing job 70 miles away from my home. That involved getting up at 3:45 am five days a week, catching a van pool to work, then leaving at 2:30 to make it back to the park and ride about 3:45 each afternoon. I was exhausted. I was angry at the business decision made by Boeing that affected me so drastically - couldn't they wait until I was at least through with radiation? But it was not about me, it was all about the business.

It took me eight weeks to realize I couldn't sustain this pattern - I wasn't doing a good job, I was angry and tired all of the time. Although I made sure I was eating well ( I have been on a blending diet for a while)  I couldn't find the energy to train for an upcoming half marathon. Big company that it is, Boeing provides counseling for all manner of issues as well as something called 'reasonable accommodations'. That phrase means if your doctor says you have a medical issue that needs 'accommodating', Boeing will do it.

The counselor told me the steps, and I went to my onocologist with the forms. He filled them out and told Boeing I needed to either work virtual or closer to home since I was suffering from fatigue and stress and those were unacceptable for recovery from breast cancer treatment. My manager was not happy, and I understood his unhappiness - I had only been at the job two months and he gets this information. Unlike my previous Boeing job, this new group did not work virtual and to do so was a learning curve he didn't want to embark upon. But there was nothing he could do since it was a medical condition. I hated having to tell him this, because I didn't want anyone on my new job to know about the breast cancer, but I, too, didn't have a choice if I wanted to stay employed.  I offered to come to the office two days a week and I kept detailed records of my activities when I was working virtual. My manager never did get happy about it but I was.

The turnaround in my attitude was rapid. I finally was able to get sleep and start training again. My productivity in my job climbed and I was no longer angry. I had some breathing room to reflect.

I felt guilty about pulling out the 'breast cancer card,' as I put it. After all, I am strong and I have conquered this with as little fanfare as possible - mostly because becoming a victim of breast cancer has scared me away from recognizing that getting this medical dispensation is legitimate and valid and necessary. My oncologist had no problem filling out the paperwork, and the Boeing counselor encouraged me to take this route. I want to put it behind me so badly that I don't want to admit that my body is taking time to heal, and getting up at 3:45 each morning is not the quickest path toward that end.

And then last week I got a new Boeing job closer to home - fifty miles closer! Although I will have to be in the office regularly for a while, it will allow me to stay on my path of discovery. I could have stayed at the other job and worked virtually instead, but I think this new job is better for me even though I will have to be present more often!

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