Thursday, November 24, 2011

Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out.

My MRI shows a ruptured disc in exactly THE place I've been feeling the weirdness from the start.  It's not the best news in the world, and it's certainly a little disheartening to see with your own eyes a picture of your own disc-fluid leaked out into places it shouldn't be, but I've had enough time to accept the fact that I've mucked up my back, that it could be much worse, and I've also had enough time to begin to accept that it can get much better than it has been.  Now at least I know exactly what's happened to it, which means I'll be able to receive some precise treatment to heal up as best as possible.

I've been prescribed physiotherapy, and I saw my physiotherapist for the first time today.  He seems great, and since we were talking about what kind of activities I do, he's going to make sure I get seen by his colleague who just happens to also be a "monitrice de yoga".  Basically she'll be able to use her medical training combined with her knowledge of yoga to help me confidently go back to yoga knowing what positions I shouldn't do, or how to adapt my movements accordingly.  I still have the green light for very careful jogging, too.

Work: I worked yesterday, and discovered along the way that MANY of the things I have to lift at work weigh *much* more than 10kg.  I survived the day and got everything done with proper timing, but it wasn't easy.  Then, when I was done my manager's boss sat down with me and we had a relaxed conversation in which he explained that I was being fired.

Yup.  Basically it's more like being "laid off" due to "restructuring of the company that occurred while I was away from work", but whatever.  Draw your own conclusions, (I have.)  I never thought that the prospect of losing my job would be so... un-stressful for me, but actually, it was.  After working the day, I had come to the conclusion that although I could handle resuming work, it might not be advisable for my body, as far as "getting fully better" goes, so in all honesty I was kind of relieved since I know myself and I likely would have tried to power through, grin and bear it and whatnot, but the fact is I'm not as functional as I thought I was, and work totally proved it to me.

I never realized how heavy the things I dealt with there were, and why would I have before?  If I could lift it without trouble, who cared how much it weighed?  Well, lets just say that there are a heck of a lot of things there that weigh 15, 20, 25 kilos, EASILY.  Dealing with those sorts of things for 8 hours straight?  I did it, like I said, and smiling all the while, but there were certainly points in the day where I was basically praying that my back would hold up while I was lifting something heavy.  Yesterday night I needed a pain killer and a lie-down.

Other reasons not to stress too much about this?  After all that had happened with the shady handling of the 'work accident' situation by the hotel, I wondered if they wouldn't try to find a way to shoo me out the door when I came back to work.  I'd seen them usher another good employee out in a similar fashion, and so knowing they weren't above 'strategic firing' I'd already mentally prepared myself for this possibility.  Additionally I found myself throughout this experience feeling not only unsupported by people I'd worked hard for, but also seeing very clearly that I was working for someone who prefers to treat employees as things to be disposed of as soon as they aren't in mint condition.  Who wants to stay and work for someone like that?

Looking at it coldy: The hotel was my first job here, and I chose it so that I could refine my French skills and still make use of my English while getting accustomed to life here.  Given that I felt I was arriving at the point where I could either pursue some sort of post-secondary level studies in French or find a job that was more challenging, I was already comfortable with the idea of moving on, and had been thinking (privately) I'd probably do so in the New Year.  So instead of jumping in the near future, I got pushed about 6 months sooner than I'd wanted, but it's not so bad that it happened this way.

Because there was no problem with the quality of my work at the hotel, I'm in the position where being let go is supposed to be a 'compensated' farewell.  Not only does the hotel have to pay me severance, but while I'm figuring out my next step I'll (probably) receive some financial support from the government.  I'm not sure how much right now, but I know I likely won't be in fear of starving or be unable to pay the bills.  What could be a silver lining to this is that this sort of "rupture of work-contract" actually opens up a few opportunities for me that weren't easily accessible before:

Access to certain forms of education in Belgium becomes easier in this situation, which I think will be a big help, (there are very few ways as an adult living an "adult working life" in Belgium to secure educational opportunities.)  Having Belgian credentials seems to put employers in certain fields at ease, as they have a better idea of what they're getting or what they can expect to get from you if they're looking to hire you, and so I'll be very happy if I can get myself into a course here to add a bit more Belgo-education onto my CV.  Also: being able to complete a degree or certification in your non-native language generally serves as an immediately recognizable indication anywhere in the world that you must be at least functionally fluent in that language.

Soon (ok, soonish, this is Belgium, after all, and the fêtes are coming meaning admin. offices will likely move even slower than normal,) it will be up to me and a councillor at the FOREM to look over my papers, discuss my credentials and previous work history, my motivations and the direction I'd like to take my working life in, and to try and find something that fits in with that.  I've already been browsing around a bit, and I'm excited about my options.  I certainly don't think that it's a bad thing to be fired/laid off if it means I get access to someone who knows the system better than I do, and who is there to help me navigate it and make intelligent choices in order to get where I want.  At least hopefully that's what is going to happen.

In the end I suppose, it's rather like my compatriot (Ms. Morissette,) once sang: "Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out."

1 comment:

polka-dotter said...

Hope you feel better soon. I was in a similar position and know exactly what you mean when you felt that relief after the news. There are plenty of work environments out there that are safer and have more pride in the way they treat their employees.