There are many ah-ha moments in people lives and I am about to share my most recent one. You see I had a fabulous job, reasonable income with a really reputable company and yet in April 2018 I surprised everyone by resigning and in May 2018 The Amy Johnson – Virtual Assistant Services was born!
I have documented my journey on my social media accounts but as the anniversary week that triggered my Ah-Ha moment is here I felt it was worth recognising.
Let me start by saying that what struck me most was the normality of what I was doing when I had my accident. I think that the routine/normality of it was in fact the biggest trigger of all. I feel like a bit of a fraud when I say that this accident changed my life but it genuinely did.
For a few months I had felt disheartened and disillusioned in my job. I had a fabulous boss and the upper echelons of senior management are an amazing team. I was struggling because I felt hemmed in. Tied up by corporate policies and procedures and capable of doing more for more people yet, I had my hands ties behind my back at every turn. I had arranged for my annual appraisal and was going to discuss this with my immediate boss and looked forward to the chance to change things.
I was too frightened to leave, I was a single mum and the reliability of the reasonable monthly income, the plethora of company benefits not to mention a nice new company car held me there. Stuck. I felt my skills were diminishing because I wasn’t utilising them, I wasn’t growing and I couldn’t leave because it wouldn’t have been the responsible parental choice. I was drowning, I just hadn’t fully acknowledged it yet.
On October 19th I was driving from one site to another (as I seemed to spend the majority of my time doing at this time) when pushing on the clutch with my left foot my sciatic nerve trapped. I pulled over called the office and then called my GP. I was there for hours before I was able to get home I cried in the car that day, cried for everything I felt I was losing and because I knew I was too afraid to change things. Friday October 20th 2017 I worked from home, I was fed up and with a painful trapped nerve I was a moody mare but I got my work done and cracked on with mum-life!
Later that evening I was washing up a porcelain lasagne dish worrying about why I was so miserable with my work (when there really wasn’t anything wrong with the job) when the lasagne dish split in two, my right hand slipped down onto the raw edge and it cut into my hand like a knife through butter. It severed (or as the hospital called it ‘dissected’) 2 tendons, a nerve and an artery. Oops!
I went to my local hospital and they didn’t have the specialist team required to deal with it so I was referred to Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge who took great care of me. A year ago today I had my first surgery to reattach my tendons, nerve and artery. I woke up with what felt like the heaviest cast on my hand and then S!@* got real.
I urge you to one day strap your hand up to your chest and try to do everything you would normally do without it!
I was signed off work until 10th December, I wasn’t allowed to drive, I couldn’t write, (and have you ever tried to chop a vegetable with one hand!). disappointingly I experienced all the test book worst case issues. I experienced severe neuropathic pain, which included but was not limited to being unable to regulate the temperature in my hand, experiencing severe shooting pain up to my elbow, the inability to manage the swelling naturally and incorrect sensations. Some of this is expected with nerve damage but this was a ‘everything that could be rubbish was rubbish’ scenario. I ended up having my hand in a splint and having to keep it raised above my heart at all times (even in bed) until December 22nd! I had ultrasound therapy, vibration therapy and regular (incredible) physio therapy every week, I would spend 4 hours travelling by bus and train every week for multiple appointments and would end up doing 8 hour days rehabbing. I still do physio every 2 hours! I counted it up and my December 22nd I had been to the hospital related to my hand 23 times. Yep.
In January I had an ultrasound and then my follow up appointment in March confirmed it’s findings. I had excessive scar tissue on the underside of my hand and the tendons were getting stuck in the channels meaning they were seizing, also, the tendons on the top of my hand had fused to the bone and that my physio could only so much, this was wonderful as it meant I was permanently flipping the bird with my middle finger (as I couldn’t bend it!) I was gutted especially as a further 2 surgeries would be required to rectify it.
I was really miserable at work once I returned, the things that had been frustrating me were only compounded as I had had so much time away and I tried to get the appraisal with my immediate boss which I had missed due to being off. We booked it in for February 19th. Yay!
Wonderfully for her and disappointingly for us she left the business and her last day was 16th February. No appraisal, no place for me to discuss these issues. I even went for her role but I knew I didn’t want it. I was totally confused, I knew I was desperately unhappy in my job, but I couldn’t change departments.
I didn’t want to progress into the role she was leaving but felt I had to go for it if I stayed because otherwise I appeared unambitious (if corporate policy was frustrating in the role I was in this would only be worsened in hers!) I felt I needed to do something, so I applied and I got great feedback but it was clear I didn’t want it.
Speaking to my consultant more in depth about the upcoming surgeries, it would likely mean me being off work for 2 – 3 months again when the surgeries came about and this worried me no end.
I broached it with HR and it was confirmed that I had used up all my company sick pay with the original injury and that I would only be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) They had been amazing but that could only go so far.
I guess this was when everything that had been brewing really burst out. SSP is a useless amount of money for someone in private rented accommodation, with a child and no other form of financial support. I get no child maintenance, I had no savings left after learning to drive 3 years before and I had bills and food and a child that grows like a weed and who wears adult shoes with holes in because he goes through them so fast!
I was afraid.
I had no idea how I was going to cope.
I was fed up with work, I knew I was capable of so much more, I needed to make money but I was going to earn less than ever when the time came for my surgeries. I also missed my son. Going back to work I realised that I have left early and gotten home late for so much of his young life that I felt like I was missing it.
The amazing thing is, I had my one obstacle removed from me. The illusion of security!
That’s right, my one obstacle for not pursuing something more for myself and my son was the illusion of security I had by being employed.
I must point out here that I don’t consider it an illusion because its not really there, it’s an illusion because it’s only there while everything is going a certain way therefore, when the road unexpectedly changes it’s gone.
My illusion was ripped away by a mundane household activity going wrong. How ridiculous is that! This was not an earth shattering ah-ha moment it was an everyday, average one. And I realised, no matter how well respected, well liked and good at my job I was, I was expendable and replaceable. But I wasn’t to me, or to my son or to my partner and family and even my dog. They all relied on me and loved me and needed me.
So one day, completely unplanned, and without a penny to my name I handed in my notice. It was time to get prepared before the next surgery and really put my ability and desire to help more with more to the test! And that is how The Amy Johnson was born.
I still cant regulate the temperature or swelling and get shooting pains. I can’t feel things the way I used to (everything that touches my right hand feels bristly!). I also still can’t do somethings but I had my 2nd surgery at the end of July and it went really well.
Because I was working for myself I was able to take a week off and book-ended that week with a few extra jobs. Instead of being unable to work for 6 weeks-3 months I was working again a week after surgery.
I am doing brilliantly, the business is going from strength to strength and I have lots of plans for it for next year. I am awaiting confirmation on my 3rd and hopefully final surgery and I get to have breakfast with my son every single day. I am not earning the salary I was yet, but it’s on its way. I don’t have a company car but I no longer have a commute so that’s a moot point! I also get to work only with the people I choose to work with and I am constantly learning and growing too.
Working hard for myself is so much more satisfying than working for someone else, I learned security is only an illusion and that I CAN do it. I loved my old employer and highly recommend them, I just outgrew building someone else’s dreams and injured myself into building my own!
Thanks for reading!