Tom’s Journal-March 28, 2008
6:00 AM…”We go” as my quarterback from Ripon College would say as our offense took the field. I’m calm; at peace. Les and daughter Libby slept in my hospital room. Lib read the 91sst Psalm to me. Dr. Nicolasi came by to give me confidence. I joked about how I expected him to stay up all night making the best porcine valve in the world.

Up at 5 AM and out the door. I speak with the anestheseologist. He’s cool—just the way I needed him. Wife of 39 years is by my side as I remove my crucifix, wedding band and Grandfather’s onyx ring. Les and I kiss–I’m off. I look back and wave. She smiles—looks pretty confident. I arrive in the surgery room—everyone greets me and makes me feel like they got it covered. Cool. I drift off happily after a few IV’s are inserted and the right volume of gas enters my system.

Seven hours later I wake up–went quickly. Breathing tube in my mouth and many hoses coming and going from various body parts. Les, Lib and brother Jim are by my side. Lib tells me later she was in tears as I was wheeled out and a doc said to her that he hopes those are tears of joy as her Dad did great.

I’m wheeled back into surgery as some tube needs to be reconnected—small bump in the road.

I’m back and motion Jim to come close. I trace I love you on his hand and the hands of Lib and Les. A feeling of deep gratefulness pulsates through me.

I spend the night in the ICU and dream that I haven’t had the surgery yet.


It never ceases to amaze me how many good things need to come together to prepare us for a trial or travail. Some we do ourselves and others just happen—so it seems. When facing work changes, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So much to do—so many unknowns. Negative thoughts abound. The Scottish WW I Chaplain Oswald Chambers preaches that when we are confused and confounded, it’s because we only have partial visions. We don’t see the full possibilities. He says we need to step back, reflect, pray and then do the next thing. We’ll know what the next thing is. Good stuff—successful transitions consist of a series of “next things.”

I tell my clients ad nausem that I can only help them if they are willing to do “the work” of transition. Many don’t want to hear it or do it—and often they nod ascent with little commitment to the process. Resume, e-mails, letters and profiles need to be cogent yet persuasive— customized to job requirements and organizational cultures. LinkedIn must be used efficiently as a tool to spread your gospel and secure face to face encounters with key people. Courage has to be mustered to approach people in your field you don’t know but who are doing things or in positions to make a difference for you. Preparations for meetings and interviews must be meticulous and thorough. You don’t want to speak to a topic cold. If it happens, one of two things occurs—we say too much or too little. Each one is bad.

Good things happen for you as well. People you barely know recommend and refer you to others who can help. People who love you prove it by doing far more than expected. And you find those Godly moments of anticipation, excitement, and confidence that you can do this. New, meaningful employment is on the horizon. Something or someone bigger than yourself is at work.


On the large list of things to do to get “the work” of a successful transition going, what’s “your next thing?”

What’s your most important accomplishment to gain the confidence to take a step toward new work?

How can “something or someone bigger than yourself” come into this process?

*This TranSpirations focuses on the relationship between Tom’s journaling about his successful heart surgery in 2008 and possible lessons for career/work/retirement transitions.

Thomas Bachhuber, Ed.D., President of the Board and Executive DirectorThomas Bachhuber, Ed.D.
President of the Board and Executive Director for The Center for Life Transitions. Tom is responsible for overall Center leadership and strategy. His individual coaching/counseling as well as workshops and retreats focus on integrating leading career development ideas with spiritual exploration. Read more.