September 26, 2013

The Future...

My oncologist is kind but blunt. Stunningly blunt. For example, my cancer medication—which I will take for seven years—has caused a lot of aggro with my thumbs (all joints from head to toe, actually) to the point where I have trouble opening or undoing anything, even after cortisone injections in each one. His response: “You have to understand. I’m an oncologist. What I care about is protecting you from cancer. If I were in your shoes and I had to choose between the medication and my thumbs, I would have my thumbs cut off rather than stop taking the medication.” This is almost verbatim.

And this: “’Remission’ means you were in remission at the time the mammogram and MRI were taken and were found to be clear. That is all it means. You could already have cancer again by now.” Also almost verbatim.

See? Blunt.

While his words left me feeling a little shell-shocked, and while what he said is true, it is also true that at this moment, I'm still alive and so, on a purely practical level, now what? I had had to quit my job because the treatment went so badly so, as I neared the end of treatment, I wondered, how was this old gal going to go about finding a new job?

The one thought that came galloping into my head, fully formed and inarguable, was—I didn’t want to go back into IT. I love computers and software. I find them fun, interesting, challenging and, after 25+ years in the biz, still a little magical. But my last two jobs had been unfulfilling and frustrating. Plus, to move ahead in my IT specialty, I would have to be the kind of techie who keeps servers, software and various network connections in the home. I am the kind of techie who keeps cats, books, crossword puzzles, and yarn in the home. I do not have servers.

My next thought was, then I’ll retire. I had a tête-à-tête with my financial advisor, we brought a budget kicking and screaming into the light, and I retired. Which is merely a fancy word for “unemployed” because I’m not getting any governmental or retiree benefits. I’m just…not working.

All of which lasted about a nanosecond because then—whoosh!—I decided to become a paralegal. I realized my passions—reading, research and writing—all come into play in the paralegal field. Plus, ironically, my IT experience would give me a head-start on the technical aspects of legal research and analysis. So, next Tuesday I start the nine-month paralegal-certification program at the University of Washington. Here, my books for the first three months. Two things give me pause. (1) This tiny pile cost $350. (The red book—$103. Used.) (2) The second spiral-bound book? It’s entire reason for existence is to explain the first-spiral bound book. That's just not right.


Posted by Ryan at September 26, 2013 12:16 AM

Wow! That's awesome! I've been following the blog for--oof, what, seven years now? You've been on such a journey in that time. Your resilience is amazing and inspiring. (So are your kitties. Awwww.) Best of luck on the next leg!

Posted by: Emma M. on September 26, 2013 05:45 AM

Litigation discovery and support is where you really want to be. A paralegal who can do IT work is the best kind of paralegal today. Most lawyers don't know how to merge IT with research yet. Definitely a good direction for you.

Posted by: anj on September 26, 2013 07:05 AM

I love it! I'm excited for you and a little jealous because I love to learn new stuff. Even with ridiculous text books. Why are they still giving you text books anyway? Shouldn't all these be digital yet?

Posted by: Laurie on September 26, 2013 11:22 AM

I would suggest checking into ebooks. I just graduated with my bachelor's degree and saved a lot by using them. Plus, they were much easier to lug around to my jobs and the coffee shop ;-) I got mine from VitalSource through DeVry and others through or

Posted by: Heather Lynne on September 26, 2013 11:44 AM

I heart you.

Posted by: pacalaga on September 26, 2013 06:01 PM

Good on ya!

I'm so glad Carrie mentioned your blog today, because it had somehow fallen from my roll.

Posted by: Blogless Lynn on September 26, 2013 09:18 PM

I am (almost) jealous of your new career. I love to learn new stuff and read and research and write. But I retired for real this year and I will NOT be working again if I can help it. But I am cheering heartily for you and your latest step in the right direction.

Posted by: kmkat on September 26, 2013 10:34 PM

Good luck with your schooling and new career! It takes some courage to change tactics in our advancing years. I did it in my early forties and had a very challenging time, even though my course was only eight or nine months long.

Posted by: Trish on September 27, 2013 11:23 AM

Dear Ryan, I've been with you since Dulaan, seems like a long time ago. Good luck with your career change, it sounds challenging and so interesting.

Posted by: Sheila on September 27, 2013 02:38 PM

How wonderful to have found a whole new career. I wish you luck with your study. I'm about to graduate for the 4th time in November; you're never too old to learn new staff and get credit for it.

Posted by: M-H on September 29, 2013 08:31 PM

That's awesome! It sounds new and challenging and fun, since you like research (me, not so much). I think I've heard that paralegals are in high demand, too, so you should be able to do lots of things!

Posted by: Stardancer on September 30, 2013 06:36 AM

sounds great! You will surprise yourself about going back to school--it's like falling off a log while riding a bicycle, or some such metaphor! Bless you,my dear!

Posted by: Pat-formerly from VA on October 1, 2013 09:14 AM

Holy cow! You know it's complicated when you need one book just to explain another one. But you figured out how to get a whole mess of knitters to make stuff for Mongolians, so I think you can manage this.

Posted by: Jen Anderson on October 7, 2013 09:01 PM

I haven't been by for a while (but I missed you) so this comes as quite a surprise. My mother did 35 years as a paralegal, rising to executive legal assistant with a secretary of her own. Interesting work, if you can deal with very high maintenance bosses and clients. Have you chosen a specialization yet? Hats to you for the "later" life changeover. I'm going the other way, to tech, also later in life.

Posted by: Sara on October 19, 2013 09:51 PM
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