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[cancer|work] Today is my last day of employment - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2013-07-01 05:44
Subject: [cancer|work] Today is my last day of employment
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, health, personal, work
Today is my last day of employment. Ever.

As of tomorrow, I'm going on Short Term Disability. After the 90-day clock runs out, I'll transition to Long Term Disability in late September. At some point, I may go on SSDI as well, though that's not clear to me.

I have a great deal to say about this process, but as the applications and approvals are still ongoing, I'll hold my remarks until after everything's settled, or least progressed to a stable point. What I want to observe today is that this is the first time since the summer after high school that I have been voluntarily without work.

I worked my way through college, with an assist from my parents that was substantial as a freshman, declining to minor as a senior. That was their way of fostering my transition to self-supporting adulthood. They were successful.

Since then, I have always worked, though I've been laid off five times over the years — one of the perils of a career in high tech — and left jobs for other jobs another handful of times. Except for a long period during the post-bubble tech crash in 2002-2003, I've never been unemployed for more than a few weeks. I've never not been either looking for a job or working at one.

So this feels very, very weird.

It's not about being lazy or milking the system, though the disability application process clearly assumes both of those things on the part of me or any other applicant. It's about being too sick to work, with no expectation of getting better. I can no longer stand and walk easily. I can no longer grip things, or move objects of any heft around. I tend to fall asleep in the middle of the day. I am experiencing meaningful and measurable cognitive decline. I am weak, tired and always in at least mild pain. I spend hours each day on the toilet. None of this will ever get any better. All of it will get worse over time. Any of it is likely to get worse at any moment. Not to mention the new symptoms and side effects that will continue to emerge.

I am not my job. My job is not me. But in the mainstream of American culture, we identify strongly with our work. "What do you do?" is one of the most common questions to ask a stranger.

Me, what do I do now? I'm a professional cancer patient. I've been one for years, but now I've gone full time. It's a rather close-ended career, sadly, and even more sadly, it's the one I've got.

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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2013-07-01 13:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Much love.
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barbarienne
User: barbarienne
Date: 2013-07-01 14:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, Jay.

:snuggles:
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shelly_rae: Jay & Me Chemo 10
User: shelly_rae
Date: 2013-07-01 14:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Jay & Me Chemo 10
You are a writer who has cancer. Cancer may take your ability to write eventually but you are and always will be a writer.
Carpe diem dude.
Anon
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Clint Harris
User: wendigomountain
Date: 2013-07-01 14:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Anybody who thinks that a cancer patient is "milking the system" by going on disability ought to be taken out back and worked over with a stick. Honestly, Jay, I don't know why you've continued to work as long as you have.

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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2013-07-01 14:56 (UTC)
Subject:
Dude, the entire structure of the disability approval and management system presumptively assumes all claimants are cheating and milking the system. All you have to do is look over the application documents and ongoing reporting requirements to recognize this. It's inherent in the kinds of questions they ask.
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joycemocha
User: joycemocha
Date: 2013-07-01 14:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hugs. If one wanted to come by and visit, what's the best option--schedule a day or two in advance, call the day of, or what? I'm figuring that summer when I'm not in the germ factory is probably best and I would like to visit.
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Twilight: WriterRose
User: twilight2000
Date: 2013-07-01 15:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:WriterRose
You are a writer who has given so much to so many of us, we can't possibly count. Like Shelly said, Cancer may take your ability to write eventually, but you will always be a writer.
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asakiyume
User: asakiyume
Date: 2013-07-01 15:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
LJ would like you to know that in addition to your careers as a writer and a cancer patient, you're also currently the sixteenth most popular LJ blog. Hurray?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2013-07-01 21:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Huh. Where did you learn that about my blog?
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asakiyume
User: asakiyume
Date: 2013-07-01 22:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
LJ's new profile page features that information, and when I saw that people whose blogs I knew were on the top-ten page (Cleolinda and Jim Hines, frex), I started scrolling through, and there you were!
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The Empress of Ice Cream
User: icecreamempress
Date: 2013-07-01 16:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I imagine this must be a terribly bitter milestone. Sympathies to you.
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mevennen
User: mevennen
Date: 2013-07-01 18:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You are still a writer, Jay, and always will be.
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martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2013-07-01 18:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
hopefully not working will give you the time to do other things, there is only so much in each days cup O'energy. Frankly I think that sucker has hidden leaks in it.
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cathshaffer
User: cathshaffer
Date: 2013-07-02 01:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is tough. I think about you every day.
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Lethran: Crotian
User: gwyd
Date: 2013-07-02 04:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Crotian
*hugs*
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