Last week I asked one of my co-workers to indulge me as I took five minutes of her time to tell her the story of how I got into the field of medical records. I hadn’t realized it has a new chapter until I ended the story. And when I did, I started crying – with gratitude. She cried too. I would like to write it down. I don’t know if I can ask anyone to indulge me in reading this, but I just need to set it down in black and white…..
In 1993, I knew my marriage wasn’t working out so well and I needed to get back to work. I knew I didn’t want to go back to my first career, writing professional liability insurance policies for lawyers. I thought perhaps I could go to school, but had no idea what I wanted to do.
Somewhere I heard about a free aptitude test that was being offered at a local university. I drove to the university and took the test. About half way through, the computer started beeping. The woman who was working there came over and said “oh dear, I have never seen this before. You don’t want to do anything!” She suggested we go through and figure out how I had eliminated every single career/educational choice. We changed a couple of answers, and at the end of the test, there were a couple of choices. One was a librarian, which I didn’t want to do because it required a master’s degree. The other was medical records! She told me of two programs in the state. One was an associate’s degree at a community college and the other was a bachelor’s degree at a school I had always dreamed of attending.
I immediately drove to both of the schools and checked into the programs. I decided I wanted to do the bachelor’s program at the university. And then quickly realized that I could not afford to. So, I gave up on that dream.
I stayed at home for a little while longer, but then decided that a good way to get back into the workforce would be to work as a temporary. I went to Kelly and took tests and signed up. The first call I got was for a job in the Medical Records Department of a large hospital. I was thrilled! I was happy with the job, even though I was only making $5.50 an hour. I didn’t realize how momentous it was to have gotten my foot in the door. They wanted to hire me as a permanent employee, but never did. I worked there for a year and decided I needed to get a “real” job and left.
At a church job fair, I had applied for a state job. At that time, you could just put in an application and HR would decide where you would fit. I thought perhaps I could sell license plates or work on food stamps, whatever – nothing I was thrilled about. I forgot all about it. One day, in the summer of 1994, I got a call for a state job. In the Medical Records Department of a psychiatric hospital! Imagine! This makes twice I had given up on the idea, and twice it had happened anyway. I went to that interview, sat in that office across the desk from the woman who would become my boss, and in that moment I said to myself “I want to work here until I retire.”
I went to work there, as an administrative assistant. I learned the ins and outs of the department so quickly, my bosses were amazed. My immediate supervisor sat me down and talked to me about going back to school. She mentored me through the process. She made a plan for me. I followed it to the letter. I went first to the community college I had first visited to get my pre-reqs, then I went to the University I had dreamed of attending. We would sit down each semester and choose my classes, fitting them into my grand plan.
I had moved through every job in the department in the five years it took me to get my bachelor’s degree. About a month before I graduated, my boss had decided to leave and suddenly it was clear that I was likely to get her job! I almost didn’t, but in the end I did. I was the director of the department! I was now the occupant of that office where I had sat in an interview on a hot August morning, six years earlier, longing to work there.
During my tenure as director, I stayed in school and got my master’s degree. As soon as I did, I was offered another job. It was a job I really really wanted, and it was outside of medical records. I loved that job for a long time, most of the eleven years I was in that position. But 18 months ago, when I was offered another job away from the hospital and into upper administration, I took it. I was flattered that it was offered to me. Reality though is not that the job was offered to me – I was reassigned. I was excited, and it is a good thing because truly I did not have a choice in the matter. Sometimes today I wonder why oh why I ever took that job – and it takes me a minute to remember it really wasn’t a choice.
As anyone who has stopped here even for a minute in the last year knows, that job was a nightmare for me. A night.mare. Never have I gone through any work experience this bad. Some highlights were: the day my boss put a note saying simply “fuck off” on my desk; the day my boss told me I looked like I was senile. The boss telling me my co-workers were talking about me because I was so depressed…. and then telling me she could fire me for my depression if it got worse. I could go on, but I am sure you get the point.
I had the worst case of depression ever. World class case. I sought medical care and found nothing would work, not meds, not therapy, nothing. Also found horrible psychiatrists, social workers, and nurses when I needed them the most. Finally, I found a good psychiatrist and have a good psychologist.
Finally, in April, I decided to retire at the earliest possible date, which was December first of this year. I didn’t know how I could do it financially, but I just knew God didn’t give me this life so that I could throw it away and show an utter lack of gratitude by going to that horrible job every day. I felt good about the decision. I would step out in faith.
No more than two weeks after I had made that decision, I got a call. About a job in Medical Records, back to MY department as director. Would I be interested? At first, honestly, I said I had to think about it. It was such a shift in gears from my plans to retire, it took a few hours to wrap my mind around it. But wrap my mind around it I did. I accepted the job then next day.
Now it is 2 weeks away. I will go back into my department. My home. The place I walked into at 10 years of sobriety, and grew up. The place it seems that God wants me to be. A place where I have been very happy. A place where I know the job, and am the acknowledged subject matter expert.
This week I will wrap up my now “old” job. I will train a new person to do it. I have a feeling she is not going to like it any more than I did. But maybe she will. I will put a positive spin on all of it. There is no need to leave bitterly. I managed to stay on good terms with everyone through all of this, and I will leave that way. That is the program of Alcoholics Anonymous in action. It is also evidence that I am trying to live by spiritual principles that are outlined in the Bible. I’m not bragging, I am talking about God’s grace in my life.
Never has it been more clear to me that he never forgot me. I just have to give up my plans in order for him to show me his. His are SO MUCH better. Thank you God.