Saturday, April 09, 2022

Updates as Events Warrant

Well, it has been awhile.

Petunia's bout of covid passed without infecting any of the rest of us. She had symptoms between a bad cold and a flu that lasted for a few days. She doesn't seem to have any lingering effects. 

I had another weird heartbeat incident but this time we called 911 as I had been told to do. Paramedics came to my house and caught the arrhythmia on a monitor. I also caught it on my little Kardia monitor. This was not hard to do because it lasted for over 30 minutes. It only reset to normal when the paramedics gave me adenosine in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I spent the day in the ER. I heard the lady two doors down from me vomit from taking too much ivermectin and then get intubated while the staff called around looking for an ICU bed for her. I was very grateful for my KF94 mask and the door on my room. I hope that lady made it through. I saw her as I was wheeled into my room on my stretcher. She was an elderly lady who looked very scared.

In the room between us, there was a man with an armed guard who at one point became violent and they cleared the floor of all staff except more armed guards who ran toward him. Once the crisis passed, a psychologist came in. The man was clearly delusional. 

ERs need better sound-proofing.

I saw a cardiologist and discussed my options for dealing with my tachycardia, which she classed as "annoying, but not life-threatening." For now, I have learned some techniques I can use to try to force my heartbeat to reset if another event happens and I carry metropolol with me in case those don't work. If the incidents become more frequent and/or annoying, I can get an ablation done to zap the heart cells that are setting up the non-productive rhythm.

I also discovered I have elevated blood pressure and we decided I'd see if I could bring it under control by changing diet and adding more exercise (something I planned to do anyway). 

All of that happened in January.

We wrapped up my daughter's Lego Robotics season successfully. I was so proud of the kids on her team, many of whom had been with the team since we started it. They have grown so much in their abilities and confidence. I retired as a Lego coach and we moved the Lego table out of the garage. We still can't park in the garage because I bought a rowing machine and put it in there, along with Petunia's barre. I love my rowing machine. If I'd bought it earlier in the pandemic I might not have 10 extra pounds to try to lose now.

That was the big event of February. 

Through all of this, I was also working really long hours.

I started my new position at work in January. Well, sort of. For the first three months of the year, I was theoretically 2/3 in the new role and 1/3 in the old one. That worked out about how you'd expect - roughly full time in the new role and half time in old one, desperately trying to hand over responsibilities in my old role so that it could taper off. I think I got it down to about 1/3 of my time part way through March.

I had three deadlines I was working towards, two in my new role and one in my old role, all "due" at the end of March. All were extremely challenging to meet - I would joke that I had two really difficult goals and one impossible one. And yet I met the two in my new role, and the one in my old role is happening next week (that one was a production go-live for a customer, and the delays were due to customer staff availability). 

So you would think that March 31 would have been a very happy day for me, right? Finally finishing my dual roles, a reasonable expectation of glowing praise for having met my two deadlines in the new role. Well... in a meeting on that day, I heard my department head praise one of my colleagues for the success in meeting the goal I'd considered almost impossible and then the group was reorganized and I now report to that colleague, who is also someone I've been friends with for roughly 20 years and who my kids think of like an uncle. Neither of us had any advance warning this was going to happen.

Basically, on the day my "promotion" was becoming official, I discovered it wasn't really a promotion, just a lateral move. When I took the new role, I was told I would have ownership of a set of related projects. In the new organization, my new boss will have ownership of the projects and I will be the person executing on them.  All that remains of the "promotion" is a better title and a higher salary - not nothing, but not what I expected.

And then the next day, he told me that the department leadership was going to reassign the "almost impossible" project that we'd made succeed to one of the other people on his team and I would go work on a new thing. I was too shocked to really express how this made me feel, but I am sure he could tell I wasn't happy. I worked long days and weekends to make the deadline, and instead of congratulating me on that, the project was going to be taken from me and the next phase, which is when the project would get to its first public release, would be given to someone else. 

And then that weekend, we had dinner at my new boss's house to celebrate my daughter's birthday (can you believe Pumpkin is 15?!?!?!) and I think I deserve some sort of medal for compartmentalizing how I was feeling and letting that evening be about Pumpkin, who has grown into such an amazing person.

We were supposed to have a meeting on Monday to find out what this new project would be, but it got canceled. I stewed and slept incredibly poorly. On Tuesday, I reached out to the person who had offered me the new role. That person had left the department to head a different department so couldn't do anything directly to help, but I wanted to hear his opinion on whether I had misinterpreted the original offer and whether the situation was salvageable. He at least validated that I had not misunderstood the original plan and that I was getting a raw deal. We talked over my options, which were not many. I decided that I could accept the reorganization but not the reassignment of the project and that if that stood, I would quit. He must have delivered that message to someone because the next day, my project was back to being mine.

So, I'm in a place where I can stay in my job but am not as excited by the new role. We succeeded in meeting our ridiculous deadline by working as a team and because I am actually really good and taking a big goal and figuring out the plan to meet it. (I get to brag on my own anonymous blog - but I think that is generally recognized at my company, because that's why they wanted me to move to the new project. It needs someone to figure out how to structure it. But the problem with that is that if I become the person who starts projects and figures out how to structure them and then gets yanked off to do the next one, I never get any credit for the success of the projects. As I told my friend/new boss, I can see why the company would want me to take that role but they would need to convince me it isn't going to suck for me, because from where I sit, it looks like it would suck for me. I would constantly be doing the work of bringing order to chaos and then handing the ordered project over to someone new to finish it and get all the credit.)

Anyway, we will keep working as a team because that's the only way to make this project work. I suspect credit for the team's achievements will go to my boss. I am happy for my friend, whose role has grown bigger. He deserves his success and I hope it continues. I am sad to be back in the role I seem to always end up in: the person behind the scenes making sure the goals are met so that someone else can get the credit. 

My friend has plans to try to keep that from happening, and I believe he is sincere and will try to make sure I get credit. But I think in the end, it won't be up to him. Our new senior management is quite hierarchical in their thinking and so they will credit the person they decided was the leader. 

I'm trying to figure out what lessons to take from this mess. One is a reinforcement to a lesson I learned very early in my career: Always have your financial house in order so you can quit if you want to. While my career has been stalling, my husband's is going great. He recently got a promotion and big pay raise. Between that and our savings, I knew that if I needed to act on my threat to quit, I could do so. I didn't have to wait to get something else lined up. I think that is the only reason I was able to get the project back. If I'd had to wait to get another job offer before I made the threat, it would have been too late.

I also think there is a lesson for me in the fact that I have a recurring pattern in my career of being the person behind the scenes figuring out how to turn someone else's ideas and goals into reality. Being able to do this is actually a pretty great skill, but I would like to get to use it to turn my own ideas and goals into reality. There is clearly something I am doing (or not doing) that keeps that from happening.  I am seen as a good manager but not as a leader. 

Either I need to figure out how to change my behavior to remove the ceiling or I need to find a career path in which I can be happy with the ceiling I apparently have. I am paid really well and am respected by my peers. I genuinely like all the people I work with directly and we have fun on our project teams.

While I am disappointed with how my "promotion" turned out, I recognize that I am still in a very good position. I don't know yet if it is one I can stay in long term. A lot depends on how the next 3-9 months go. For now, I am going to try to make peace with what has happened, talk to a few people I think can give me advice on how to report to a friend without ruining the friendship, and think about what I want to do.


  1. You are blaming yourself for not getting the credit for your successes but I see another, more likely cause: sexism. It's been shown that whenever two people of different genders work together to accomplish a goal, the implicit bias in the observers causes them to attribute the success to the man. So if you pulled off the near-impossible milestone, with the help of your friend/colleague, he was seen as the cause of that, and so he got the promotion. I have seen the same dynamic in my company, where a very good manager got demoted in a reorganization despite overseeing a project that was bragged about across the company as a huge success, and her male employee who worked on it (who was also very good, mind you) was given all the kudos while her contributions were minimized and ignored. The new organization, where you will be working with your male boss, is going to exacerbate the problem. I think you are right that you will do all the work and he will get the credit.

    I don't really have advice though. Maybe your new boss would be open to talking explicitly about the gender dynamics of the situation. You can also work on your visibility - making sure that you are presenting the results to the higher-ups, and agreeing with your boss that he will talk you up any time someone gives him credit for your work. But I don't know how much these will help. Sexism sucks, and even changing companies isn't going to get you away from it.

  2. Yeah... it does sound probably sexist there. Your anger is justified! And the not talking to you about your preferences before making major decisions seems particularly bad on their parts.

    I'm glad it sounds like you've figured out the heart thing. The ER sounds unpleasant.

    I wish you did more of what my DH does-- they are completely remote and need project management and DH's direct boss (programming lead) is a woman.

  3. First: yay, I am glad to read this update! I have missed them.

    I also came in to identify sexism too. I cannot tell you how many great women I have worked with who could have written "I am sad to be back in the role I seem to always end up in: the person behind the scenes making sure the goals are met so that someone else can get the credit." And it almost always comes back to that the next rung on the ladder is either boystown, Old Boys' Club, or in some cases a layer that is not, in fact, good at implementation so those people kind of have to have an unexpressed covenant that the people who make sure the goals are met are below them and not in the room pointing out when the goal-setting is getting ridiculous.

    Sorry for the middle-aged burnout analysis.

    I stepped off the ladder but have ambiguous feelings about that choice.

  4. Anonymous4:58 PM

    YES, Boys get credit and more pay and girls do work. Start job hunting quietly. But look carefully because a new place may play the same old game but not have people you enjoy working there. Look for major pay increase too....... I am sorry. Remember in only about 20 cities in the US do women UNDER 30 earn the same as men.... and over 30 and in the rest of the country...............FACT.

  5. Anonymous6:02 AM

    Yeah, agree with other commenters that you got a really raw deal & it sounds like sexism. Good on you for thinking about how you might have contributed to being undervalued somehow. I think that is useful introspection. But I hope you also see that they treated you badly and you shouldn't have to be 'perfect' to be treated well

  6. Anonymous8:28 AM

    Thank you for the new post. Your last post was in January, so I was wondering how your family were doing. Sorry to hear about the work situation.

    Just curious, when did you have your booster vaccine? I'm asking because I've been having tachycardia and elevated BP as well since my booster vaccine, plus other symptoms such as dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, and weight loss... Have you lost any weight? I apologize if my questions are too private, I've heard lots of people have heart problems after vaccine or COVID. BTW, I'm not anti-vaccine, and I took all three shots... Sara

    1. Hi - my booster was in October. My first significant tachycardia event was in July, but if I think back there were other smaller events years earlier. They just resolved quickly and so didn't cause any problem. In talking to my cardiologist, it is likely that I've had this non-productive pathway since birth. She described it as having a window that would open to allow the non-productive pathway to take hold and that age, menopause, stress, and other things could all make that window open wider so that events become more likely.

  7. Thanks, everyone, for the supportive comments! I appreciate them. I am still thinking about what I should do next.

  8. Anonymous6:12 AM

    Sneakers - Glad health issues are improving - small medical issues are more stressful - and big ones like tachycardia, even more than earlier. So sorry about the project. I quit last year for a similar issue - and having finances in place to be able to that is needed - this is the first time I did that although we've been similar in setting things up when we got together. Hang in there.

  9. As a manager/implementer myself, I found the time that I finally started getting credit for my work from higher ups was when I had a supportive non-sexist boss and when I landed a job in charge of an entire group. So I'm still responsible for all kinds of implementation but I get the credit because I'm the face of the group. In my turn I make sure to publicly recognize all my people every chance I get to make sure they are visible. But it sucks that it's so dependent on luck.

    I am really glad y'all didn't get COVID from the January infection and hope your heart issues stay minor and don't annoy you much more from here.


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