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Teri's First Medical Leave

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” - Robert Frost (from Teri's Facebook Profile)

Happy Saturday everyone!

Hope you're all having a good weekend so far.

FYI, I haven’t forgotten about writing the book. If I keep blogging about all these random Teri stories, I just need to put it all together. Thank you all for still reading.

When driving to work on Tuesday, I felt another rush of sadness regarding how much I miss Teri. So instead of listening to my bible reading, I took the time to watch a bunch of Teri videos and let the tears flow again. It certainly helped and helped me feel a lot better before going into the office.

I watched this Teri video a few times. It was a powerful reminder to me that God always shows up during the most difficult times and He's not going to let me down. That's why it's worth sharing here again, in case you missed it when I posted it in Oct 2023:

My "escape" from life is still to write here. I'm sure there's a better term besides "escape." Even if I talk about stories that aren't new anymore, I always feel better after looking at old photos and videos again and getting my thoughts down. That's the season of life I'm still in.

Today I’ll share one important and very relevant story regarding Teri’s first medical leave in early 2021. Spoiler alert: This story ends on a positive note, I have no plans to discourage anyone this weekend.

The 6:30AM Daily Standup

Many of you may know that Teri was NOT a morning person. She loved her sleep. I am the opposite. I get lectured regularly that I don’t get enough sleep. Good news, I slept in these past two days (woke up at 6am).

Usually I'll wake up at 4:30am. I go to the gym every week day for a 5am class at Work Irvine, but yesterday’s Friday class was full so I gave myself the day off.

Teri attended daily standup meetings at 6:30am, Monday - Friday. Not fun for a morning person.

Why so early? Her job was based on the east coast. Yes we did argue that we should move to Atlanta since I was a morning person and she was not.

While I've spent most of my career working for a softwar company, I never really had daily stand-ups. But I get the reason for them. They are pretty effective in the software development world. And life.

Free bonus productivity tip for work and with your spouse or kids: Do daily stand ups! Topics include:

  • What did you do yesterday?

  • What will you do today?

  • What’s blocking you from finishing what you’ll do today?

  • Who should you refer to subscribe to blog and podcast??

Teri and I kind of did daily stand ups during our morning walks before her work standup. Mayo and I really miss those morning walks with Teri. As much as I love my dad, I'd much rather walk with Teri... but today was his day and he deserved a half mile walk around Edwin and Alex's house:

Dad and I went for a half mile walk today
Don't judge my pace on Strava..he's not that fast.

My last podcast was on mental health and there's still so much more to share. Another thing on my mind is how my perspective really changed after Teri going through medical leave for approximately one month.

But First, Some Context...

Many of you know that moving is one of the most stressful things you can do in life. Up there with losing a spouse. Both are terrible. Hopefully I never have to move. I think get it regarding moving, but not really because I haven't really had to move that often and never out of state besides my brief time in India. Since 2019, Teri dealt with moving several times:

  • Sept 2019 - Moving from Atlanta to California (Brea)

  • Sep 2020 - Moving from our Brea home to Atlanta (drove the Tesla back)

  • Dec 2020 - Moving from Atlanta to Diamond Bar (I rented out our Brea home while she was in Atlanta to save costs)

  • Jan 2021 - Moving from Diamond Bar to Irvine

For all the moves, I wasn't really that empathetic regarding what was really going on with her and her feelings about moving. I was very outcome focused, lets get it done ASAP and spend little money (I never hired a moving company in my life) and I just focused on what I do best: Coordinating the logistics and manual labor. I didn't want her to do much. I was also pretty good at recruiting people to help us out. I also knew that every move was going to be fine in the long run, especially when we moved to Irvine. Probably everyone that helped us throughout all of the moves above are reading the blog today. Thank you.

Some photos from our moves in Dec 2020/Jan 2021

Okay, so what happened?

After we settled in our new place in Irvine, she also found a new psychiatrist. While the psychiatrist in Atlanta was working out fine, she needed to transfer to someone in the same state. Rules are rules.

The new psychiatrist made some changes to her mental health medications. She sounded optimistic about the plan. I was a bit skeptical, but happy for her. I don’t really remember the details, I just remember one specific outcome during the transition:

Teri started sleeping through her daily standup. She really didn’t want to go to them…

As a people manager for most of my working career, this drove me crazy. How was it okay that she can just not show up?? She also would tell me that there’s a lot going on with her job. Not good.

For the first week or so, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. As long as she got her sprint work done right? That’s why I love doing Sprints vs Kanban (Alastair, hopefully you are using sprints at your new job). Sprints have deadlines and managers like Erwin love deadlines. Easier to keep people and yourself accountable. Anyways, perhaps Teri's work didn’t really involve much collaboration with the team, so no need to attend the meetings?

Speaking of Teri's meetings and agile, during her quarterly PI Planning, I would want to stay home and listen. These Truist people knew their stuff. I would pay attention and then share with her what I learned. I took a few photos of the presentations, here's a few that inspired me:

I miss Agile...and JIRA...but I will embrace SmartSheet since that's what the people want.

Back to the story: At this time, I was going into the Inari Medical office every day of the work week. While I had flexibility to work from home as needed since it was only one year or so since Covid started, I liked going in. Also there was free food at work. Speaking of free food... I got some today thanks to Edwin and Alex:

Dad finished all of it. Amazing. I better register the "Chef Erwin" domain name?

Back to story: My office was 7 minutes away so I could just come home during lunch or when I had a gap in between meetings.

I knew there was a problem when I would come home during lunch and she would still be in bed.

Did she need a quick power nap? That was my first thought. But when I asked her if she even got out of bed to start to work, she said no.

Are you kidding me Teri?? You can't just stay in bed the whole day. You're gonna lose your job. Companies can't run this way If people stay In bed and not go to work. Not good.

Thankfully I was quite educated from a lot of books I read on the topic of mental healthy and specifically, depression. In summary on what to do: don’t talk about depression with a depressed person. Just love on them. No lectures!!

I simply asked her if she was okay, and if there’s anything I could do. One thing that she always wanted to was to walk around the lake with Mustard, so I took every opportunity to just get her out of the house. I knew the sun could only help things out.

Interesting photo of us in bed, not sure why Teri had a spoon? Maybe to give Mustard some medicine.

Teri also stopped going to Orange Theory. We were paying $169 a month… and since I love budgeting, this drove me crazy. But telling her she was wasting money was the last thing that would help.

TBT to Erwin going to NorCal and winning the OTF Dri Tri! My glory days in 2016 when I was single...

Back to story, for real this time: I politely asked if she talked to Ben (her manager) about how she was feeling. That’s what I would want my people to do in a similar situation. Just be honest with what’s going on. She said no. She then asked, can you talk to him for me?

Being a manager and putting myself in his shoes, I knew that I needed to make the phone call. So I did, and explained to Ben the situation, and like a good manager, he told me to tell Teri:

  • She can take all the time she needs off, don't worry about her work

  • She doesn’t have to worry about paperwork or her time card

  • She will be in the team’s thoughts and prayers

  • He texted me from time to time to check in on us

  • They sent a care package during her leave

Teri was so relieved when I told her the news. From there, we took things one day at a time. Her new medication needed a few weeks to work, and it really did. Over time, she started to go on walks on her own, go back to Orange Theory, and also felt comfortable going to church. No question there were ups and downs, and we had our moments of discouragement. There were also fights once in a while, as I started to get overwhelmed with work and felt anxious if she would even return to work.

Thankfully, all things worked out. She returned to work in about a month, with a slow ramp up phase. She was back to “full capacity” after approximately 2 months since that phone call.

What’s the crazy part for you Erwin?

This only gets better. Several months later, I was taking a look at our bank account and noticed a huge bonus from Truist. I thought it was a mistake. Why would she get all this money?? It’s a miracle she was still getting a paycheck.

She casually told me, “Oh yea, forgot to tell you, Ben said that I was in the top 1.5% of the entire team (hundreds of employees) so they gave me a big bonus. I think it's because of the work I did last year."

Of course I didn’t know what to say. I still don’t get it. Why she didn't tell me about it vs. I would have thrown a conference for myself I was I did the same thing at my work is why we compimented each other so well. Companies like Truist give me a lot of hope that there’s really great places to work out there and managers like Ben that really live out their company core values:

Teri was recognized for her high quality work that year, even with the unexpected medical leave.

And that’s all for today. No podcast. Thank you for reading this far and your love and support.

Have a great rest of the weekend and Happy Father's day to all the father's out there!



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Good idea about standups. :) will try it with my accountability group.

And great job with your dad walking and cooking for him. :) glad he ate everything and honestly kinda glad you cooked the salmon. Btw salmon in the air fryer is also pretty good. Even from frozen.

Thanks for sharing about Teri’s leave. It is really nice that her company was so great about valuing her as a person and generously caring for her. It is really inspiring to know there are companies out there that treat their employees well.


We miss you Teri! 💜

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