"It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubborness of the inorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed." - Albert Einstein

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I aspire to a stubbornly incorrigible nonconformity. The degree to which I have achieved my aspiration I leave in the capable hands of those whose wisdom and humilty exceed my own.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Reluctant Retirement

I am a reluctant retiree, or at least in the process of becoming one. On February 2, 2012 I went to work at a job I love. I was a social worker with the Washington State Children's Administration. I had worked there for thirteen years in a variety of capacities including investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect and providing direct services to children and families. I was very good at my job and I love it. After cancer in 2004 I found that work too stressful and as much as I hated it, I adopted new duties including conducting home studies of relatives for placement of dependent children and facilitating interdisciplinary planning meetings. I grew to love this job as well.

When I went to work on February 2, 2012 I had two meetings scheduled. Both meetings were cancelled by the other parties and I wasn't feeling too good, so I went home. Later that afternoon I finally agreed with my wife and daughter to go to the doctor, who admitted me to the hospital with aspiration pneumonia.

I was hospitalized for twelve days during which time the doctors decided to alter my GTube for a JTube, directly into my small intestine. That means that because of the smaller space, I can no longer feed myself on my schedule, but am attached to a portable pump about twenty hours a day.

I have not been back to work since then and I don't anticipate ever going back. My doctor, who I just love, says I am disabled and unable to perform my job duties. I reluctantly agree with him, but it is a challenge. I am in the process of applying for disability so now it is up to government employees to determine if I am really disabled or not.

In one day I lost my sense of my professional self and my status as a professional in the community. I am no longer a child welfare social worker. People no longer come to me for my opinion or assistance with a particularly challenging case. My days are my own to fill as I can, which at least so far has been easy with all the medical appointments and managing my medical technology with which I have to become accustomed.

This is not at all the way I envisioned my career ending. I wanted to finish out my work life at the same desk I abandonned on February 2, 2012 and walk out the door. I anticipated a retirement party where people would say all manner of nice things about me and I would get the state equivalent of a gold watch, which is probably a fancy ball point pen.
I am trying to adjust and accept my new role. A role

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