And the “embracing change” emails start to circulate at work

In another couple of weeks, they’re going to start reorganizing the company I work for. And the best damn’ job I’ve ever had, may change. Forever.

That would be a record. Usually, they take at least a year to decide to go in a different direction, and I have to scramble to line something else up.

Frankly, it pisses me off, that all this is happening. It’s like the mainstays of my life are dissolving out from underneath me. My neuropsych is retiring, my PCP died, and now my job may be changing — if not going away entirely. I looked on LinkedIn. The company we’re merging with already has a bunch of people that do what I do. And they’ve been doing it longer. And they are generally 10-20 years younger than me.

Oh, God.

I’m 50 years old, and I’m sick of this sh*t, quite frankly. Part of me wants to just opt out and crawl under a rock. I’m actually really hoping that I’ll get an early retirement package. I haven’t been with the company long enough to take them up on their regular offering of early retirement at 50… or 55. But in the grand scheme of things, people who are older are members of “protected classes”,which makes us harder to get rid of, when the time comes to restructure and downsize.

That time always comes, eventually.

Always.

And I’m hoping like crazy that they can buy me out for a nice chunk o’ change that will let me skate along for a while — and free me up to do some other things with my life. It would be completely, totally awesome, to change careers, right now. All the drama of the tech world just gets stupid, after a while, and it would be awesome if I could do something different with my life. Maybe teach. I would be a good teacher — especially for folks who are coming up in the tech world after me. I could tell them a thing or two about how to have a resilient career through their most productive years. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s find work and keep working. I could teach others how to do it, too.

The main thing I worry about is my insurance. It’s expensive. Then again, if I got a package that paid for my insurance for 12-18 months, I would be so set. That would be amazing.

But who  knows what will happen? I think we’re going to find out in the next month or so. They already have people looking at how to reorganize things. They didn’t waste any time. And I’m guessing they’ll want to tidy up before the year is out, possibly to take advantage of tax breaks. If they can shed a bunch of people and pay out a truckload of money, then maybe they can ease their tax burden… and make things easier to rearrange in the new year.

For now, I’m hanging tight, figuring out my different Plans Of Attack. They sent out a link to a “change hardiness” questionnaire, and apparently, I’m a Master Of Change. Ta-da. Ha. Pretty funny. Few things are more difficult for me to navigate, than change — I just know what I’m supposed to do, and I do it, which supposedly means I’m adept. But all the while that I’m doing it, I’m dying inside. I’m in excruciating pain. I can logically think and function, even while I’m in blinding pain — I’ve been doing it for years. But that doesn’t mean I’m not suffering and struggling.

That’s the thing my neuropsych doesn’t seem to realize. It’s not that I’m compartmentalizing my pain and frustration and emotional upset. It’s that I learned an awful long time ago — mainly through long-distance running and having a blazing headache, 24/7 — how to continue to think clearly and function despite feeling like I’m dying inside.

Which brings me to the checklist for the next neuropsych I deal with:

  1. They need to be an athlete — former or present, preferably endurance — so they understand my own perspective on things and appreciate my emphasis on performing at the top of my game whenever possible. Athletes understand things that non-athletes don’t – and my present neuropsych is about as far from an athlete as you can get. They’d rather get a root canal, than exercise. That seems strange to me.
  2. They need to be a good conversationalist, so I can continue to practice my sequencing and flow and active listening skills. The one way that my neuropsych has helped me the most, is just being someone I can talk to without being judged or challenged or made to feel stupid. More than anything else, that’s been what’s helped me.
  3. They need to be easily accessible. All this driving back and forth to get to and from… it’s just hard on my system, and it really puts a dent in my week.
  4. They need to have an open mind. My current neuropsych seems to think they have everything all figured out, after having practiced for 40-some years. They’re a bit too brittle for my comfort, at times.

That’s my list, so far. Honestly, I could live with just the first two. And of course, all this assumes that they know a ton about brain injury and take the approach that recovery is actually possible.

Anyway, it might be moot, after my neuropsych leaves, because I might not have access to that kind of care, thanks to my insurance situation. But it’s a thought. Heck, maybe I could work a trade with a neuropsych to just stop by and talk to them on a regular basis about whatever — without them needing to “treat” me. I could trade some pleasant conversation with someone who’s bound and determined to get their life in order, as a counter-balance to all the other folks they deal with who need their help but have less determination and drive, and who sort of depress them after a while.

I could be a ray of sunshine in their cloudy day.

But who knows what will happen? All I know is, today I am driving to see my family for Thanksgiving. And I’m looking forward to getting away from all this.

I certainly am.

Onward.

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Making it safe to be brain-injured

This might sound a little contradictory — how can you ever make it “safe” to be brain-injured? And why should you?

Valid questions. Here’s my answer:

So long as brain injury and concussion are viewed as purely life-threatening hurts, which can never heal properly, and which result in the loss and destruction of everything you’ve ever worked for, everything you’ve ever hed dear, the chances of concussed athletes owning up to their injuries is slim at best.

So long as brain injury/concussion is viewed as a season- or career-ending tragedy, which is impossible to reverse, the chances of sports teams being fully comprised of non-concussed athletes is in question.

So long as brain injury/concussion remains a mystery shrouded in the secrecy and esoterica surrounding THE BRAIN, with experts proclaiming with inexplicable glee that “We just don’t know exactly how the brain works,” concussed athletes who fear the worst about their head trauma and symptoms are going to remain mum about their true circumstances, making them all the more vulnerable to re-injury and second impact syndrome.

If we are to safeguard the health and well-being of student athletes, we owe them some Courage.

The Courage to admit that brain injury/concussion happens frequently — and has happened since the beginning of time. And yet, we’re still here.

The Courage to admit that we actually do know more about the brain than we pretend, and yes, “anecdotal” observations can sometimes yield invaluable insights and coping strategies that will never (and I mean NEVER) be observed in a clinical setting.

The Courage to educate all athletes not only about the dangers of concussion, but also the success stories of amazing recovery that do indeed happen. All the time.

The Courage to step away from the partisanship, the need to bicker and nitpick and point fingers, the very human impulse to assign blame and tut-tut-tut ourselves all the way to the disability claims office, thinking that finding a scapegoat is a viable response to a national health crisis.

The Courage to admit that one of the main things holding us back from a full and objective approach to this situation is our innermost fear of our own frailty and vulnerability, and that what holds us back from being frank and honest is often the sick sinking feeling that what happened to them could very well happen to us — and maybe it already has.

The Courage to partner with the “other” side(s) to come up with objective solutions to recovery and rehabilitation, separate and apart from monetary, financial, commercial interests.

When we start having and demonstrating this sort of Courage, then it may be safe to be brain-injured. Because the injury itself will not be the end of our road, but only a bump along the way. It may be a big bump that takes out our exhaust and gouges into our gas tank and requires us to put our vehicle in the shop for longer than we’d like, but it’s a bump along the way — not the end of the line.