Rejection Letter for My Traumatic Brain Injury

"Fogged" by Premnath Thirumalaisamy is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Dear Traumatic Brain Injury (T.B.I.):

Thank you for applying to the position of ‘what happened on Susan’s way home on May 5’ here at The Rest of Susan’s Life, Inc.

We do really appreciate that you considered us, when we know there are a lot of places taking applications. We received and have reviewed a large number of applications, including from ‘256 Broken Bones’, his cousins ‘247 Broken Bones’ and ‘212 Broken Bones’, ‘Fractured Ribs causing pneumothorax’, ‘Liver impaled by gearshift’, ‘Exsanguinated at roadside’, ‘Trapped in exploding car’, and simply ‘Crushed to death’.

There was so much working for you. Your résumé is remarkable. Your involvement in extracurricular activities (boxing, football, and equestrian sports in particular) were duly noted. Your background in the military service, especially on the front lines, was striking. And your references, including Jackie Chan, Roald Dahl, and Lady Gaga, were most impressive. When we called them, however, they unfortunately revealed some negative feedback about you.

When we wrote in the job description that we sought a candidate who could really ‘shake things up’, we were not referring to shaking up Susan’s brain matter or causing vertigo. We weren’t really sure how to interpret your cover letter about ‘taking the bull by the horns’, or how you’re known to ‘always hit the nail on the head.’

The team was really impressed with the way that you offered to help Susan develop more appreciation for the small pleasures in life—like staying awake for more than a half-hour at a time, reading more than three pages of a book and retaining them, and even remembering whether she had turned on the oven. However, after reviewing the applications, we felt that another applicant was better suited for the position.

We are declining to move forward with your application.

Your responses to job application questions were certainly cunning. Under ‘special skills’, you wrote ‘can cause headache and vertigo without warning.’ No one knows when you’re there—you don’t always identify yourself. You might let us sleep—just not soundly. Your thinking might appear clear, but really you are as foggy as a San Francisco harbor on a summer day. And you might go totally incognito for days, only to come raging back in the form of dizziness, confusion, and a total lack of coordination. And that is just not going to work out for us in a professional workplace.

We are currently focusing on candidates who require less accommodation, for our needs at The Rest of Susan’s Life right now. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of work (with physical therapy, occupational therapy, neuropsychology, acupuncture, massage therapy, home health aides, and of course visits to the ER and Susan’s GP) required to adapt the position to your needs makes the situation untenable for us. We are but a small company.

You were the only external candidate to make it so far in the hiring process, and we really wanted you. Ultimately, in the interest of full transparency, we decided to go with an internal candidate. The internal candidate ‘Had a safe drive home’ has already been approached and plans to take the position of ‘what happened on Susan’s way home on May 5.’ We found the internal candidate to be better suited to our goals here at The Rest of Susan’s Life: family, friends, awake time, and most importantly, memories.

Finally, we regret to remind you of our policy that those who are not hired, may never reapply for a position in The Rest of Susan’s Life. Also, even if you think it is clever to change your name to ‘Concussion’, please know that the internal policy is for no reapplications and we have ways of checking on this.

Thank you for your interest in working with us. We’re sorry that it didn’t work out. Best of luck in the rest of your search. You might want to check out the NFL. We’re pretty sure you would fit in there perfectly.

With Gratitude,

The Rest of Susan’s Life

Image at the top of the page: “Fogged” by Premnath Thirumalaisamy is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Disfigured, 1995

"Guilt" by h.koppdelaney is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

He sits stooped in bed, scowling. “I look like a corpse.”

Robert’s face and neck are disfigured from surgery and radiation. His body is bruised and bone skinny. A tracheostomy tube juts from his neck, a feeding tube from his belly. It is cancer; too many cigarettes for too many years.

“And I smell like shit; I’m rotting from the inside out. I bet you couldn’t eat lunch in my room.” His head pivots to the side; he glares. “Well?”

“Yes I could,” I blurt. My words are duplicitous and inappropriate. My face reddens in embarrassment.  

He coughs. A stringy glob of bloody mucous heaves from his tracheostomy and lands on the bed sheet. I stare, uncomfortably. I glance upward; our eyes meet. “See, you can’t, you can’t eat lunch in my room.”

My shoulders slump. “It’s just not appropriate.”

“It’s okay, no need for excuses. But you’d feel the same if you were in my shoes.” I am ashamed; I would feel the same, likely.

He fidgets with his hospital gown. “I want to die now. I’m stopping the tube feedings, but I don’t want to linger.” His eyes roam the room. “Send me home on hospice, then help me die, now. No one would know.” He has no spouse. He has no children. He has no siblings. He is right, no one would know, except the pharmacist.

I advise him physician-assisted death is illegal in this state. His eyes flare feral. He clenches his hands and pounds his thighs. “No! That’s not acceptable.” His shakes the bedrails. “I’m suffering. I’m dying. You could do it if you wanted to.”

I try to reason with him; my words are lip service. “I have a gun,” he says. He is manipulative, but is he suicidal? Psychiatry has asserted he is not; however, I am uncertain. He appears desperate.

I tell him I can keep him comfortable after he stops the tube feedings, sedate him so he sleeps. It may be days before he dies, but he will be comfortable and unaware. He flicks his hand in dismissal, then curls into a fetal position. I attempt to visit for three days; he refuses to see me.

He dies ten days later, thirteen days after discontinuing tube feedings. He lingered as he feared. He suffered physically and existentially. My guilt is insufferable.


Source: “Guilt” by h.koppdelaney is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.