Lesson Learned!

I leaned the old lesson from Aesop’s Fable “The Milkmaid and Her Pail”:  “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” last week.

In my plight to regain my life I needed to find a way to successfully obtain employment.  One year ago, feeling like I had nowhere to turn, I enrolled in a program at a local community college.   The program was to become a certified medical coder.  I had not been looking to become a medical coder, however after spending so much time wrapped up in my own medical issues, I had looked into other medical related careers.  So standing in my kitchen reading a flier from a community college to become a medical coder, which came in that day’s mail, I went to my computer and registered.

I had two reasons for enrolling in the program.  One, I couldn’t bear the thought of another year going by without me doing something about getting on with my life.  Two, what I felt I needed to obtain a job was a break, foot in the door so to speak.  This program was one year long and finished with a 98 hour internship.   Filling my two requirements.

A week later I found myself, a 47 year old man with a masters degree, sitting among 30 other students of all ages with little more than high school diplomas.  The most difficult part was, I was being spoken to in a most demeaning way by a woman in her mid-forties, seven months pregnant, with no more education or knowledge about medical coding then I had.   This women, with her sloppy, unprofessional appearance, would be teaching seven of the classes I would need to take over the next year.

Needless to say, I had to suck up a lot of pride to sit and be ridiculed by this woman. She was in major defensive mode to cover for her lack of knowledge.  As she, I am sure, wasn’t expecting to have a smartass like me questioning her every move in the class.  Most dropped out as only seven of the original thirty completed the year.  I stuck it out for the internship, in my mind the only chance I had to gain on the job experience needed to achieve employment.

June 3rd I was off to my first day of the internship.  Going in, my plan was to work hard and leave with a current reference and some job related experience.  Ironically, the third day on the internship I learn of an open position.  I leapt into action and inquired how I could get the job.  To my surprise my inquiry was welcomed with “this might be a case of being in the right place at the right time”.  In the days to follow I am questioned and put through constant casual interviewing.   I overhear conversation after conversation (not hard to do, they were 5 feet from my cubical) about the position and my getting the position.   It is then told to me that they need to post and interview a few other people before offering the job to me.  However, they were only going to interview three or four candidates, the minimum number they were required to.  Wow, this is finally my break, I am thinking. Now don’t get me wrong, all the time I kept telling myself this is too good to be true.  I even continued attending hiring open houses, job fairs and applying to every job I could find, but everything pointed to me being a shoo in for this job.  The job posting was customized to my education.  I was personally delivered the posting and told to make sure I applied that night, coworkers telling me there was no way I wouldn’t get the job.  I left the internship with a glowing evaluation that could not have been better.  Unfortunately, in my mind I already had this job and how could I not, everything lead me to believe the job would be mine.

The process was long to get from the vacancy to interviewing, in all a two month period.  I went for the interview, which I did not take lightly, preparing for days leading up to it.  At the interview again totally got the impression it was just a formality.  Left feeling as confident as ever that on Monday I would get the job offer.

For me this was more than a job or a paycheck, this was much, much more.  This job would mean I still had the ability to provide for my family, it would tell me that I would be all right, I could overcome the disability, live with it and still have a successful life.  Getting the job offer would prove with some hard work, perseverance and a good attitude I could accomplish anything.

Monday came and no phone call, Tuesday no phone call, Wednesday no call, by Thursday I was dreading finding the rejection note in my email or mailbox.  The next week came and went no phone call, no email, and no letter in the mail box.  Obviously this made me nervous and in my mind I tried to start processing the possibility of not getting the job.  However, this wasn’t just an interview that went really well, it was two months of everything falling in to place.  How could I not be offered the job?  Could life really be that cruel, could this all have been a joke, another kick in the ass?

Two weeks and four days later my phone rang.  When I saw the number I was overtaken with excitement, within seconds I would have a job, I could contribute to the family income, give my family news they could be proud of me for and I would have achieved a new career as a 48 year old man with a physical disability.  I hadn’t accounted for bad news coming in the form of a phone call.  Shockingly in minutes I hear, I have been putting this call off because we are not offering you the position.  At that moment I literally felt all life and hope drain out of my body.  By the time I put the phone down I couldn’t breathe, my heart was beating out of control and I honestly didn’t know where to go or what to do.  For two months I lived on this high of getting this job, everything pointed to my getting the job, I had even begun to plan my life around the job and within seconds it was all gone.  Back to the jobless, angry, crippled man.  Once again life knocked me on my ass.

For two days I just existed, an empty shell, emotionless, paralyzed to move forward.  It took over a year to lose my anger so I could move on and here I was with new anger.  So what do I do?  I could not stand the thought of living with this anger again, so I looked to my inspiration, the people in the books I read.  What would they do, they all had major setbacks that defeated them.  They all picked themselves up and pushed forward, so that is what I have to do.

One of the things that bothered me about not getting the job was I felt this website, the blog, was a farce.  To continue would be hypocritical, after all I wasn’t successful, so how could I be preaching all about overcoming a disability.  During those two days my plan was to kill the website, but then it hit me.  One of the best ways I found to overcome my anger was to write.  For some reason as I write I feel better.  It helps me make sense of the situation, helping me release my anger.  Plus this is my journey to recovery, not a fairytale ending.

So the post that was to be bragging about being successful and obtaining a job, is in fact another lesson, a detour in the road to recovery.  I not only spent the next few days writing this post, l combed the job ads, wrote a dozen cover letters applying to jobs.  It isn’t magic and it will take me some time but I will find my way around the detour, job or no job.

Remember, “Don’t count you chickens before they hatch” even if it seems like a sure thing!



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About Darryl Partridge

I am a husband, father of three and amputee. I was active all my life, a Certified Ski Instructor, DYI enthusiast and Elementary Special Education Teacher. My life came crashing down when I was 42 years old after suffering a life changing ankle injury. I endured six ankle surgeries that forever changed the anatomy of my lower left leg, ten leg casts, recovery time on crutches that added up in the years and debilitating pain. In the end wound up with a deformed lower leg, chronic pain and unable to walk without crutches. Oh yeah, I also lost my teaching job after the third surgery. Being left a 47 year old unemployed disabled father. I took two years to rebuilt my life using crutches full time, achieving a new career in public health and preparing to amputate my leg. I amputated my lower left leg 9/24/14, 15 months post amputation became a NASM Certified Personal Trainer. Follow me on my life without limits journey as an amputee. I now hope my stories will help others find some support and comfort in living with their disabilities. Explore my website Lifebeyond4limbs.com .com to read my story.
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