Aside from the challenges that grad school provided I wanted more and began my career at Microsoft while still in school. I joined the amazingly smart and talented team that created the original and first online news site. It was MSN News at first, then MSNBC.com and now it’s NBC.com.
Those were heady days that required me to stay on my toes. It got me laser focused on successful outcomes, taught me how to cut the bullshit out of conversations and just deliver. There were late nights, all nighters, early mornings, and cranky moments.
From that position I transitioned into the general population of Microsoft and learned more than I had ever expected to. How to create something from nothing, how to horse trade for resources, how crappy I am at working for lousy managers, that most managers aren’t leaders and are worse at managing people, resources and sanity.
My reputation for getting shit done went from being positive to being negative as I wasn’t able to track with the politics. I like to deliver, work with a strong team of committed colleagues and shock the heck out of the world with our product.
In the early days around the Microsoft campus, you’d hear “if you’re smart you can do it”, “if you’re smart you can figure it out”. I was smart. I could figure things out. I could make things happen. I couldn’t manage my inability to tolerate stupid. Stupid and political. Not very good at these two things.
This set the stage for how I’ve managed my heart attack. From the moment I went into the ER and the stripped me naked in glaring light, shave me down, stuff my veins with needles, and stripped out my nostrils by shoving oxygen tube in there, I knew that no one cared how I felt about what was going on. And no one was going to help me grasp the situation.
Upon waking up in the morning, the cardiologist told me that we either die of cancer or heart disease when I asked him how this happened. I’d worked out for years, ate healthy and never smoked. WTF? The ‘nutritionist’ from the hospital couldn’t grasp my vegetarianism and gave me boiled carrots and broccoli to eat when I refused the original breakfast. Really. In the cardiac unit. Even *I* knew better than to offer pancakes with high fructose syrup colored with caramel and calling it “breakfast syrup”.
It really went from bad to worse and you can read more in the earlier posts in this blog. I had to take control. I had to find answers. I had to weigh all the information out there to choose what is best for me. It required a level of self-knowledge that friends of mine use to call endless navel gazing and not really living my life. I am SO grateful for all the years I spent in therapy to resolve past issues, and the struggles to admit where I fell short in caring for myself.
I read 15 books on heart disease and heart attack. I signed up to no less than 20 websites for regular updates. I called my former nutritionist and homeopath in Washington State. I joined a community of heart attack survivors under 55. I cringed at the 135K worth of bills that were growing because I am uninsured.
I learned how to lean on the few friends that weren’t freaked out. I accepted financial help for food. I learned that bodies can heal with food. I learned that the past decade have hurt my heart. (again, that’s scattered throughout the blog) I learned that the medication the cardiologist could kill me. I learned that under the fear of death we can lose our way, our sense of self, and our ability to control things around us.
My life is now my project and program. All the skills I learned starting at Microsoft have given me the ability to understand more about health, hearts, food, medicine, Big Pharma, our sucky healthcare system, what it’s like to be disenfranchised even though I’d given thousands to people when I had a regular pay check.
I learned to live small. To accept small as the best way to protect myself. Small space, few belongings, but great friends, healthy foods, and loving pets.
I’m only at month 3. And at the end of the month I’m relocating to Northern California because someone who loves me has understood how badly I need to get out of the area I reside. I will live close to the top research doctors taking on pharmaceuticals to help people with this incredibly wicked disease.
Thanks to all of my former colleagues for teaching me what I needed to learn in order to take control of my health.