Last week, I doubted whether a good attitude and hard work had really paid off. After receiving the news that one job that had my name all over it was given to someone else, it was difficult for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Quite frankly, I wasn’t even sure there was a light.
Six years ago I had achieved what everyone dreams of, a career they love. I was blissfully teaching my third grade class of students and couldn’t imagine ever doing anything else. My life was not perfect or problem free, but I was experiencing the same everyday issues that everyone faces. I had three healthy kids, a loving wife, a career and and a healthy active life. Life was good!
Who knew that six years later, I would have endured six painful life-changing ankle surgeries, all as a result of a facture in my ankle. My teaching career was over and I faced a life of using crutches to walk.
Losing my freedom of mobility was hard enough, without losing my career as well. At first I struggled to continue to work. Two of the surgeries I worked around the school year, using the summer breaks, and one surgery I had done during the school year, taking a ten week leave. Most of these three school years, I relied heavily on crutches to get through my work days. Not ideal, but I made it work; however, in an economic time of massive teacher layoffs and an unsympathetic school administration, I lost my job. The guy who had been through multiple ankle surgeries and was always on crutches was the first to go.
Over the next few years, I underwent three more ankle surgeries and I lost count of the endless time I spent on crutches, in the end concluding that any amount of time standing or walking was undoable without the aid of crutches. My dream of teaching hadn’t died. I strongly felt that I could teach using crutches and making other accommodations in the classroom. After a zillion applications and some unsuccessful interviews, I concluded that teaching was no longer in the cards for me. The colleges were pumping out hundreds of successful new teachers for very few positions, and my age and disability were against me. In reality, teaching is a very busy job requiring constant moving around the building and classroom. I needed a job that required far less walking and that would be more conducive to using crutches.
A huge part of the process of rebuilding my life was training for a new career as a 47-year-old man with a disability requiring the use of crutches. Where do you even begin? I had become fascinated with radiology and the human anatomy through all of my research and surgeries, so began looking into careers in the medical field that wouldn’t require medical school, in the end choosing a one year certificate program to become a medical coder. It wasn’t that I felt sitting in a cubical in the dungeons of hospital coding medical records was the job for me. My plan was to see where it would lead me.
It lead me to an internship at the State Department of Health, where I stumbled upon an open position which had very little to do with medical coding. I have learned in life that when things seem to just fall into place, they are meant to be, and when things don’t seem to fall into place, they are not meant to be. Yes, hard work is essential, but if you are just spinning your wheels, it probably wasn’t meant to be. With this open position, everything had fallen into place. This is the reason why learning that I didn’t get the job threw me for a loop. I found myself desperately trying to discover the reason, or a lesson in the fact that for two months, everything pointed to my getting this job, and then it was pulled away. At the time, no sensible reason came to mind.
My attitude was definitely anything but good for a few days. I then worked very hard to change and find a way to improve my attitude. It was not easy and I suffered with it for over a week. I went to work applying for a minimum of two jobs per day, and I racked my brains for career possibilities. Every time I felt myself slipping into negativity, I would go for a bike ride, work out or find something to keep me busy. Each day my attitude improved and the job rejection slowly faded. A week later, I even found myself telling my therapist I was surprised I felt as good as I did.
A week-and-a-half afterwards, I left the gym, hopped on my bike and was headed for home. It was about 9:30 am. My phone rang. After stopping my bike and answering the phone, I heard, “Are you still looking for a job?” It was the Department of Health calling to offer me the position after all. The person they had offered the job to had declined and taken a different position.
In the end, was this a test for me? Was it a test to see just how much I had healed? I don’t know. If I had continued on with my original thoughts of despair and negative feelings after hanging up from the rejection call, would it have worked out this way? Maybe I passed the test by pulling myself together and pushing forward with determination. It all paid off in the end.
Another goal in taking back my life was accomplished!!! Follow me to see what’s next!