I’m feeling a little guilty linking this site to my law practice site; but now that I’m a practicing Florida attorney I can do more than just relate my own personal story, I can try to help other burn survivors and families navigate the hurdles associated with burns. I’ve been fortunate with my opportunities, but the reality is many burn survivors are victims of missed opportunities because of their burn scars and misconceptions people have about abilities and appearance, which lead to otherwise unintentional discrimination. I’m being polite.
I heard this the other day while watching the US Open: “to be great you have to actually do something.” I cannot recall who said it or the context. 9-9-10
I try to exercise as much as I can. I jog and walk, but I’ve recently taken up tennis (teaching my son, and the recent addition of his two friends). After about two hours my clothes are drenched. I drink a lot and pace myself to not get overheated, and years of practice on that front are really starting to pay off with my endurance. My back is regular skin so it does sweat a lot (actually everywhere not burned sweats a lot–sweat droplets forms on my legs). My parents had me doing yard work and jogging shortly after I was burned–I will confess I hated it very much, but the benefits are still with me (we lived, and I continue to live in Florida). Some of parts of my body that never perspired now do become moist with sweat, but mostly the burned areas are dry. It is interesting to see the partners that form on my tee shirt: the back is soaked, but the front is mostly dry except for a few wet areas that escaped being burned.
The body has an amazing ability to adapt, but it does take time and experience (training or repetition).
Last summer I replaced my roof on the detached garage. It took me close to forty actual hours of work to scrape off the layers of old roofing–it was the most difficult aspect of the job. It was very hot, and I was drinking nearly 2 gallons of gatoraide each day. I finally found a rhythm that worked: 30-40 minutes on the roof and then an hour break to cool down. Right at 40 minutes my productivity dropped off to where I’d make a movement and then rest. But once I realized my threshold and the job became a lot more manageable. The last thing I needed was a heat stroke or some delirium from exhaustion causing me to fall off the roof. I love Florida and life too much to cut it short by some foolish disregard to my body’s capabilities. That said, I do tend to push myself–I hate the restrictions caused by the shackles scars have inflicted on my body.
Yesterday, while waiting in the pickup area at my son’s school with other parents, a school official (I didn’t recognize) walked over to me and asked if I was picking up a student. I said yes (my mind was thinking what a stupid question…of course, I’m picking up a student that’s why I’m waiting here), and she lingered a bit saying no more, and then walked away. About a minute later a police officer came over to me but stayed a few feet away watching me; and then my son called over to me, and the officer said, “have a nice day” and walked away.
It seems innocent enough, but no other parent was asked if they were waiting for a student. Anyway, it’s unwanted attention, and simply makes one feel like a criminal.
This happens a lot at retail stores with security folks.
I’ve decided to discontinue this site, and the reason being is that most visitors to the site are looking for a success story and how good life is all around. Well, if all I shared were my “how great am I” stories this site would not be about being normal. To be normal one MUST experience failure and success, and to only share my success would be dishonest, and not very helpful. Being burned is the easy part; it’s the living a rewarding life that is the challenge.
I’ll think it over for a week or so before making the final decision. After being up for three years only three web sites link to me–so much competition.
I’ll start this brazenly reckless comment that follows with: my life has not been defined by money, though the opportunities muted could have added some additional color. I’ve worked out a spreadsheet that determined the potential income I failed to earn because of my burns–the number is roughly estimated to be between about $734,000 to $2,388,000 (there are a lot of variables in those spreadsheet scenarios, and inflation was not factored, meaning that each years income was computed without adjustment). Pretty much ever job I’ve held has paid considerably lower than salaries afforded my co-worker peers; and for a little insult on injury, I’ve tended to be assigned the tougher assignments (and I might add, thankfully, because there is few things worse than not being challenged). I’ve never minded or complained, but now that I’m getting older all that is catching up because of my poor work advancement and low pay. I never envisioned the future ramifications of accepting sub par pay and deficient job titles. So, with 24 years work experience, I’ve averaged $22,375 per year. (I should mention two caveats to add some context: for nearly 10 working years I’ve had the unpleasant distinction of having to agree to be classified an independent contractor instead of as an employee (though clearly I was an employee).) During this period I completed nine years of higher education, and worked all through college. I’ll concede I moved around to accommodate my education, and that no doubt placed a toll on my income, but had I held a government job all these years I would have moved up the ranks, and ultimately have done better with my earnings. But that’s not me, and my dreams pre-date my burns, which I’ve tirelessly tried to remain focused to those early aspirations and dreams.
Though I cherish my education it has done little to advance me in the job market. [I’m not sure about this statement: it’s a flippant remark because I’m not expanding on it, and shallow when not taken in context of the broader picture.]
Once I went to an interview for an Information Technology (IT) job advertised at $65,000 (this was back in 1996). The interview went well, and I was called back to meet with the hiring committee. They offered me the job, asked me my salary demands, and I responded with a meek $65,000 request; I was terrified I’d just sold myself embarrassingly short. But then they completely surprised me with an offer of $25,000, and proceeded to explain $65,000 was too high citing my lack of experience. However, the committee did express their compliments concerning my accomplishments at USO, my experience working with AOL’s rainmaker system, and the ideas and direction I presented that I would bring to the company. The offer was just too low for me to accept.
The above situation is much too prevalent–people tend to think they can secure my talent and skills at a steep discount, and unfortunately they are usually correct. So, is this my fault for giving in and perpetuating the impression, or is it a larger paradigm experienced by the general population? I tend to blame myself for my failures.
Final thought for the day: I’ve held two jobs where after the first year of employment my salary was increased nearly 50% and 30%, and additionally, pretty much for every job I’ve ever held my job title improved to more closely represent my actual responsibilities. And a note about privacy: I’ve gone back and forth about disclosing the salary information, but after giving it a lot of thought it’s all information that I’ve included on hundreds of job applications, and even worse, the State of Florida explicitly states that all information disclosed on a state application becomes a public record (unless you are law enforcement or other high risk security sensitive relationships). So, in the spirit of my site’s mission statement, I’m trying to give an accurate and candid look into my life experiences–within reason, of course.
I was just outside looking to the night sky, without many stars visible but the moon prominent even though the sky is somewhat hazy, and there’s a big ring around the moon, I started thinking again about what jobs people do that are important in the greater scheme of existence. I’m certain medical doctors are important as wherever people go the need for a doctor goes, but what about lawyers, historians, information technology folks, artists, and so on? I wasn’t sure at first but when I think of people needing medical doctors, and I must also think that society also needs doctors, and of course that is what many professions provide, in sort, to society, and humanity. If our culture, human culture as known here on Earth is to travel to the unknown, provided it is possible, then it will be these professions that will be essential to maintain the health of humanity, as they are today.