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Adjusting to being less than the best

I received my annual performance review today.  I had mentally prepared myself for getting a rating less than what I usually get and was even afraid it might be significantly less but I was pleased…and disappointed…and sad…and concerned. 
Not to brag but I’m very good at my job.  Several years ago I was nominated and received the Employee of the Year award.  We had about 7000 employees then so that was a real honor.  Every year for at least the last ten, if not longer, I’ve gotten an exceptional overall rating.  This year I didn’t.  It was still good, better than just proficient, and even still had some exceptional ratings listed, but it was sad to see my performance decline in writing.
Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not complaining at all about the rating.  It was very fair and probably more than a little generous.  I hold a significant position where I work.  I have a lot of influence and a lot of people come to me for advise…or at least I had and they did.  Now I work remotely every day.  Though I try to keep involved and keep up with everything, the truth is my staff have had to cover meetings for me and are now contacted more often than I am.  People who know me want to spare me anymore stress so they go to someone else.  That’s very kind of them but I’m still working and if no one needs me anymore, I’ll become a liability instead of an asset. I can’t let that happen because I have to work and I have to keep the salary I have now. One of my greatest fears is “out of sight; out of mind,” and my other is “I need you to come back to work at your office.”
I wouldn’t mind being back at work.  I love my job.  It’s very demanding but I find it very rewarding. I really like working to find solutions and knowing what’s going on. I find that working from home, I’m losing that.  I don’t feel connected and there is so much that I am not told about that I would find out in hallway discussions. I see this lower rating as the recognition that I’m not needed as much anymore. I expect that if I continue to work from home, they will find a way to move me out of my job into something else….something not as essential…and something that would be unique and therefore, something to cut if times got tough.  Less job security on the horizon.
So what can I do about it?  Go back to work in my office.  But what if I do that; what does that mean?  It means less sleep since I would have to get up early to get Lynn ready for whomever what going to care for him while I was away.  I’m sure I would not be getting to bed any earlier.  It would mean greater difficulty getting everything done at work that I needed and everything done at home.  Lynn would be very unhappy because no one would pamper him like I do or at least that’s what I suspect because he’s very needy and very particular about how things are done. He doesn’t want anyone here that he would have to entertain as a guest and he doesn’t want anyone he knows well to have to do any of the personal things for him that are needed.  If I had a “sitter” then I would have to put in an indwelling urinary catheter while I was away every day.  I had to do that two days in a row a few weeks ago and he got a urinary track infection from the irritation. So would his condition deteriorate?  If I wasn’t here to straight cath him, to put him to bed when he’s tired, to make sure he gets what he needs to eat and drink, to monitor his medications and to take care of his skin, how long would he last?
So what do I give up?  I give up the exceptional rating on my evaluation, the recognition for a job well done, the interactions with others, the rewards of helping others, the job security, and the challenges of learning new things.  I give up a lot and it hurts but I signed up for better or for worse.  I made a commitment to God and Lynn that I don’t take lightly.  I want to give Lynn the best I have to offer and I want to make his life better than it would be if I wasn’t here to care for him.  So I give up being exceptional at work and I focus on being exceptional at home and hope that somehow it will all balance out. 
For now, it’s the right thing to do…but I admit that I’m just a little sad.

Helping with Lynn’s Career

As I mentioned in the page called, “Lynn’s story,” he soon became unable to work in his chosen profession as a carpenter after he was diagnosed with MS.  He was in his 40’s at the time and wanted very much to continue to work.  However, his physical limitations and his fatigue made working in a physically demanding job impossible. So he looked for other options and discovered he had a talent for writing.

Rising Tide available from internet bookstores

Lynn has written three books and is on his fourth.  Only one has been published so far, Rising Tide.  His publisher did a great job of supporting him during the editing and publication process; however, they do not do a great deal of marketing the book after it is released. They sent out the initial press release and then sent him information about how to market the book himself through book signings and giving talks.  They pretty much leave it up to the author to promote himself.
That’s fine if you can travel across the country or have the energy to do talks and book signings but it’s very difficult for Lynn to do that now. Since we do not have a way to transport his powerchair, he has to use a manual wheelchair for trips.  It’s not very comfortable for him after about an hour, especially since he cannot adjust his position himself. Then there’s the difficulty actually signing a book.  He puts his signature in the forward but truthfully, it’s a scribble.  Also, he has to be catheterized intermittently.  He can’t do that himself which poses a problem in a public area.  Do I take him into the ladies’ room or do I go into the men’s room?  Most public places do not have a one-room restroom where we can  into it together.
So… instead of going “on the road” he’s marketing to book clubs around the country by email.  I’m very proud of him.  I’ve written a draft that he can copy and paste and he searches out book clubs and sends them information about his book himself.  He offers to send them a free copy to consider for their club to read.  It’s a very slow process.  He’s sent out over 200 offers and so far we have mailed out 10 books.  Most don’t respond but if he keeps at it, he will eventually get his book out into the book reading community and, who knows, maybe that will generate book sales.
What I do know though is that it gives him purpose each day. He has a job to go to now.  He can only tolerate doing so much each day, but it gives him something to look forward to when he gets responses and it gives him work to do.
On the other hand, it also gives me work to do….I type the drafts, I record where he sends letters on a spreadsheet, I mail out the books, respond to any emails he gets, help type in information if needed… Whatever he does, I have to be part of it for him to be able to do it.  Many people who do not have experience with being a caregiver, do not realize that there is no part of that person’s life, hobbies, interest, care that you do not take part in.  And while I want very much for his writing to be successful, at times, it just becomes one more job for me to do.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed though on this marketing campaign.  If he could become known and his books provide him some income, I might just be able to get that van I want.  : )    Want to buy a book?
Seriously though, check it out if you’re interested.  Go to his website for more details www.lynnsteigleder.com   It’s a good read.