Once again, I was alone in a new state. But this time, I had our Maltese to keep me company. I accepted this job because it offered an opportunity to work with my mentor and to be closer to my daughter and mother. These things were the high point of my time in Georgia.
This was a great career opportunity. It allowed me the opportunity to become a supervisor under the tutelage of my mentor. And before I knew it, I was thigh deep in work, travel and training, and the politics of the job. Within my first few weeks on the job, I was sent to Boston for a conference. By late fall, my mentor had insisted I apply for a leadership program and I was accepted. I was attending meetings with high level administrators and even stepped in as acting director of the department when my mentor was on leave or travel. I attended the leadership training that afforded me opportunities to learn from world-class trainers. We traveled to Atlanta, Vermont, and Washington, DC. My professional self-esteem was soaring.
However, my colitis was raging. For the first two and a half months in Georgia, I went to work, stayed late, came home and crashed on the floor with a comforter (we had not yet moved all of our furniture to Georgia), and our Maltese while the television played “Dharma and Greg” reruns. During that time I saw EVERY episode. Our poor dog did not even get many walks, except around the parking lot. I would rise at some point and eat something and then go to bed. I should have been in the hospital.
You might be asking, why didn’t you go to the doctor? My own denial of symptoms and the illness has always been a struggle for me and this time was no exception. I did finally go to the doctor and he got me started on medications to put my UC back into remission. Knowing the stress of my job, he also gave me a medication to use that stopped the spasms in my gut that would often start when I arrived at work.
The job taught me amazing things about leadership, trust, systems, and treachery. In the end, it was the treachery that led to our move back to Nevada. By the thirteenth month in my position, my colitis was back in remission, I had gained roughly 30 pounds, and I was being asked to do dishonest things in my job. These things put our patients at risk and endangered my professional career. I still remember the day that I told my mentor (tearfully) that I could no longer stay in this environment. I called an employer who had offered me a job prior to my move to Georgia and they happily offered me a position. Believe it or not, things got worse in the five weeks after I gave notice.
In September 2007, we drove back to Nevada. As we neared our home (which we had not been able to sell due to the crashing housing market), I began to cry. You see, for me this is home. I feel the most centered here. And evidently our Maltese sees it the same way. When we opened the door, she ran inside checked everything out excitedly and then insisted on going outside – to her backyard. This is the happiest I had seen her in 13 months.