Thursday, August 16, 2007

Affairs of the Heart pt 2

Okay, so here we are the end of May 2005, I know I need major heart surgery to repair my leaky mitral valve and I just find out I'm going to have a lot less insurance coverage in 30 days (not to mention having to find another job). This combination is enough to shake my usually optimistic point of view to the very core.

Luckily, my wife is very level-headed and came up with a plan. Per the company's policy, I could apply for short-term disability if my surgery got scheduled before my last day of work. In short, this would actually delay my final work day out until after surgery and recovery, if everything could get scheduled. We talked to my cardiologist, met with the surgeon who had to run a couple other tests first (like this one where they give you something to put you into an awake and totally relaxed but forgetful state and then they have you 'swallow' this thin tube with camera on the end so they can take pictures from actually inside your heart - the whole thing took like twenty minutes but other than a slightly scratchy throat I didn't recall a single thing! funky!), and were lucky to get the surgery scheduled for the Monday which would have been my last week of work. I notified the HR folks at the company and got the short-term disability approved. That allowed for one relief - having the insurance coverage for my surgery and recovery time. I would come back after the month or so recovery period to work out my final days. That helped a lot.

So, while juggling all this into place, I was also working up my resume (I had not done one since I left college in 1987 so I was a little rusty) and sending it out as job leads popped up. Now, I had worked my entire career up to this point in a very specific computer field - retail programming. That was good in that it made me sort of an expert with lots of experience. That was bad in that being specialized like that likely meant we might have to move, if I wanted to stay in the field I had worked. We had a number of discussions about this, both my wife and I and as a family involving my son. In the end, we deemed it best to be as flexible as possible. If a job option came up, we'd consider moving from Wake Forest.

Now, someone must have been looking out for me during all of this chaos. At the end of the second week of June, I happened upon a job listing at an online site for computer industry jobs. A retailer was seeking someone with skills in the products I had worked on for all these years. They were seeking someone with three or four years experience; I had quadruple that. I shot the resume off electronically on Saturday morning. Sunday evening I got a call back from someone regarding it. On Tuesday I was talking then with the recruiter that the employer worked through, and we had a phone screening interview set up for a week later. I expected that interview to go for maybe twenty minutes, but it went more like an hour and a half. I had all my interview prepartion materials scatter about the room and was able to pace a bit to relax as we talked. I think that helped a lot, and the interview went very well.

This was right about the time we finished the pre-surgery tests, and I got a surgery date scheduled just after that first interview. Now I was in the fun position to tell this potential new employer, for whom the job and company profile was a perfect fit for me, that I would be out of commission for the next month or so. Knowing that honesty is the best policy, I laid it all on the line to the recruiter and the person who interviewed me - and I was lucky that they were willing to wait for the right candidate! I just needed to contact them after my surgery so we could continue the interview process if I was still interested.

Whew! One heavy burden slightly lightened. It was good to have something new and exciting as a possible goal post-surgery. Now I just had to face the surgery itself. I had, in truth, pushed all the fear about having my heart operated on into the back of my mind when I was facing the whole unemployed issue. And, of course, I was putting on the brave face especially for my young son so he wouldn't worry. But, truth was, I was very scared about the whole thing.

(to be concluded tomorrow)

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