The next person who saved my life was my Physiatrist. I call her my Polio Doctor because she has taken an interest in caring for Polio survivors. When it was time for me to take a disability separation I chose instead to take a demotion and keep working. She told me it was an ethical problem for her to continue helping me to hurt myself. I agreed the next time I was unable to work, I was done.

I agreed and promptly forgot all about it. So a month later when I once again needed a Doctor’ note for time off, she faxed a note to the prison that said, “This employee is totally and permanently disabled from all work.” And that was that.

Almost too late. I was completely exhausted. It was months before I even began to recover. I had pushed myself too far, and would have continued that way until I dropped. She made a decision my ego wouldn’t let me make. My ego wanted to continue to be a leader in the agency. I had the first slot at the academy, then the whole second week. I had worked on my ego sufficiently that my classes were a joy to teach and I was the favorite instructor of the whole training academy that lasted a month. It was like I was finally making progress in my mission to transform corrections. Mentally I was just getting into a comfortable stride. My body just couldn’t keep up.

When I had to stop working it crushed my mission. I tried many times to give those trainings away, but nobody could figure out what I was doing. Something in my presence with attendees.

“There’s some way you’re being with them and none of us can do it,” Kevin said. Even Sue. My partner and a superior trainer. She watched over and over but whenever i asked her are you ready to present them she just shook her head and said, “No.” Seven years later they are still calling me with questions, trying to figure it out.

It wasn’t magic. Fact is I was in the Introduction Leader’s Program at Landmark Education. Yes the thing that used to be EST. It should be accredited as a Philosophy elective.

I loved digging into the corrections research and hooked up with a global group of professionals, academics and researchers all working on my mission which was also their mission: to transform corrections from the current Waste Management Model to a more humane and integrated approach based on what we know works. I was not alone. I had found my people. I had management’s ear. I was at Headquarters … occasionally. I was part of the Classification Unit, the place I wanted to work from the first time I was over there.

For years I heard the. Classification Unit referred to as the Think Tank. And it seemed like all the strangest people worked there, geniuses and misfits. My kind of place. And I got there! On my first day Jim put his arm around my shoulder and said, “You’re safe now. I’ve got your back.”

I was right where I had always wanted to be, and I loved it. But my body was taking a beating. Who knew Polio still had some punches left.

And I got sick. At first I thought it was just being out of shape, so I put a 40 lb. backpack on and hiked up Mt. Adams with Richard and Kate. I made it to about 9,000 ft. But at Killen Creek meadow I sat down and stayed down for the rest of the day and night.

The hike went like this: Richard and Kate were always way ahead of me. I was trudging and grinding my way up the trail. Every so often I’d catch up with the two of them taking a break. But as soon as they saw me, they got up and started up the trail. I got no breaks.

Not only that, but I had also unwittingly initiated a big burnout of my beleaguered nervous system. I missed several weeks of work and the search for the diagnosis began. 1993. That diagnosis would take five years to get.

I thought I might make it to 62, but I was done at 57. But I’m alive and as well as I can be and Dr. Moise saved me from doing more damage. Thank you, Doc.

My next life-saver was the HR person who spoke this “Oh. By the way as I was leaving the building for the last time. “No matter what they say, if you work you’ll lose your insurance.” Big lifesaver!!! Thank you HR person. You were a life-saver.

I got sober in 1989 in Tri-Cities. Shorty Hofstedt was my sponsor. He told everybody I was so scared, I came to my first meeting drunk. Which is true. I needed a drink to get my courage up. Then I sat by an old guy, thinking that would be safe. That old guy was Shorty. Shorty knew Dr. Bob and Bill W.

I was only the second woman he had ever sponsored. We were both named Rose. I loved him. May he rest in peace. He was a pillar and an elder of AA. He never cut me any slack. Thanks, Shorty. You were my Life-Saver.

Finally, my husband is a life-saver. He has signed on for every minute of every day, there beside me, there to protect and care for me, and when possible have fun together. Thanks, Richard. You are my Life-Saver and my best friend.

How blessed can you be!?!

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