Writing cheques your body can’t cash

Last day today. Got to balance the books and sign off now. This is the second time I’m leaving Big 4.

Most of my predictions did come true – I did have to stay another month. I did hurt my neck again. I did fall behind in the software engineering course. But it’s a matter of degrees: I managed in work by taking 2 weeks off; I managed the increased pain from the neck with difene daily; I managed to attend most lectures, and complete assignments/exams on time. But these “balance sheet adjustments” I reported to the world kept me going on credit. Those debts have been called in now.

I met with management Wednesday to discuss my exam results, but said that I didn’t want to continue in either case. I passed 3/5. We had met about 6 weeks ago to say I wanted a career break of a year, or to resign, as my neck and back had become chronic injuries, which were preventing me from fulfilling the terms of my training contract. They said wait until October, and that they would try to get me out as quickly as possible in the event I failed some exams.

They asked me what I had done differently for the repeats in September, compared to the original sitting in May. I said that the pain from my low back had gone down, and I had mobility back in my neck, but I was still in pain everyday, and limited in my capacity for study and work. I had asked for stronger drugs to get through the repeats, and that they had helped.  Notwithstanding that, I focused on theory for two hours in the morning, and worked on exam papers for 2-3 hours in the evening, as much as I was able to. We did find that my results went up another 15%, but the initial neck injury in March had made the next 6 months very difficult. I said I wanted to continue, but I didn’t see how it was feasible for me to work and study at the moment.

I was shaky throughout the conversation – I had to disclose a lot of “feelings” I’d only shared with people I was close to (and this shitty fucking blog), or required to disclose to for work supports. We know I’ve buttressed myself with medication, physio and stubbornness, but that was no longer sustainable, and my creditors in work, in life, and even my own body were calling in their debts. So here is the windup order to liquidate this venture, and take these expensive lessons into the future. Life has to be based on solid fundamentals – and no amount of meds or tricks can hide the pain that’s accruing.

Following the meeting, I sensed that they were keen to keep me, because I didn’t get marching orders right there and then like one of my colleagues.  They said to take a long lunch, and consider it carefully, and to meet with them again in the afternoon. So I hit the church on lunch for a long prayer session – mostly asking forgiveness for the pride that put me in this position. I believed my own hype, and my keenness in work and weightlifting to make something of myself made me easy to exploit in 2013.

Then I hit the gym for rehab work.

Side, front and reverse planks – 90 seconds pain free

  •  DB press up to 4kg * 10.
  • Sidelying ex rotation 4kg *15
  • External rotation 6kg *20
  • Other bullshit

Right hip has been feeling pretty janky  – think I irritated it in pilates last week doing some rotation that stressed the hip flexors. Downstream from that, the knee has tightened up. Got the TENS machine at the hip. It seem to help a bit.

Difene has been making me pretty sick this week – got diarrhoea last Sunday, bad gas, nausea and dizzness. Had to add a brown note to the pain diary for any days I nearly shit myself because of gastric distress. Credit the pain, debit the pile of rancid shit. The books have to balance. The problem with taking painkillers everyday is you lose your reference point for “normal”. Is normal pain free, or is it a 2/10? Is this 4 really a 6/10, as the morning medication wears off? You only really notice it when your back locks up in spasms, and the pain ratchets past your pills. You can’t fool your body with accounting tricks.

I’m defaulting on the misery. I’m realising the gains that were previously on paper. The true value of this year is something I can’t check on a Bloomberg terminal; the future is a “great moderation”.

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4 thoughts on “Writing cheques your body can’t cash

  1. Shit, I don’t think I ever realized just how badly messed up your lower back / neck was. Is the constant pain from the herniated discs? Are you considering pulling the trigger on surgery?

    1. Too young for surgery, neurosurgeon refuses to operate, and it is genuinely getting better. The pain is mostly in my neck/thoracic spine now. The low back has settled down a lot. Hopefully in another 6 months off work, the neck will settle down too.

      I think it was just the stress in work that’s aggravated it. And yes, SS has a lot to answer for. But some peoples’ joints and spine don’t respond well to near max efforts. It seems I have hypermobility in some joints, which increases the likelihood of snap city visits.

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