Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Time to get fired up!


Two things in life are certain. I'm not planning on the first one in the quote anytime soon, but for the second, I am gearing up for year number three of this wild adventure.

Ok, maybe not wild, but definitely an adventure.

When I left farming nearly three years ago, I had no idea what was going to come my way. I was coming out of the worst 12 month period with Meniere's disease I had experienced. I found out that my left ear had been rendered completely useless, no balance, no hearing. I went deaf in my right ear. My right ear was classified as "abnormal" for balance function. My ENT told me that if I lost balance function in my right ear, I would be able to function, but likely wouldn't be stable. I thought my life would be a life of hissing and ringing, but otherwise silence.

To paraphrase a quote from years ago, "I've come a long way, baby."

Make no mistake, I still live with the remnants of this disease. I'm still deaf. Some days avoiding walls is the goal. I still get the mild Meniere's hangover and brain fog. My ears still ring.

But I've moved on.

Three years ago, on a whim, and because I was tired of doing nothing, I sat down with a good friend and, rather than a job interview, I poured out my story. I knew he was possibly looking for a tax return preparer to train to replace someone in the office that may be retiring soon.

I had one Cochlear implant. I did well with it in what I had experienced, but customer interaction was a whole new game. All those different voices. High pitched, low pitched, mumblers, all of it. I had no idea if I could or would be able to hear them well enough to do this.

As for the tax returns, I had less concern, but it was still new.

So we talked. And talked. And talked. And I was given the chance to try. He didn't even care how many returns I did that year. He didn't care if I had attacks in the office. He would get me somewhere dark and quiet, even if he had to physically help me. It was all about me trying to see if this would work, even part time.

And try I did. And succeeded. So much so that the other preparers started asking me questions about doing returns!

Sure there were bumps. The first year I did not do well on the phone. So poorly that the receptionist stood next to me, on the phone, and told me what the person on the other end of the call said or asked, and then relayed the information to them for me. Cumbersome, but it worked.  There were people I had trouble understanding. My fellow preparers would come over and help me.

But it worked. So well, that part way through the year I was asked to consider doing bookkeeping for the firm for clients.

I must say that things improved incredibly when I received my second Cochlear implant. Along with that implant came accessories that allow me to use the phone via Bluetooth, even landlines, and a microphone that I can give clients to put their voice directly in my "ears".

Fast forward three years and I find myself being given more and more responsibility in the tax office. I'm being marketed as the guy in the office to deal with business and corporate returns (something they had not been doing due to lack of time and personnel willing to do them), and the guy to talk to for accounting questions.

I will be completing my first leg of the journey toward having meaningful letters behind my name. This spring, an associates degree in accounting. Next fall, leg 2 begins. Enrollment in the bachelors program for accounting. In between, possibly certifications in accounting software, maybe tax specialist designation. Who knows?

A couple weeks ago I ran into the CPA that we used when farming. I visited with him at length when making the decision to leave the farm career behind. He said he had thought about me last spring and wondered what and how I was doing. When he heard that I was pursuing a career in accounting, he said he thought it was "perfect". How is that for a boost?

As long as I refuse to let this disease defeat me, and the attacks stay away, I have a life to live!

Bring it!

'til next time

Dennis

Just a guy trying to live with and invisible, potentially debilitating illness