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I found this painting, “Optimism,” by John Slaby, illustrating an October 2007 blog post by John Fenzel called “Your Brain on Optimism”.”

The moment I came across it, I knew it was me. So I had to share.

FYI: I have this other habit of trying to use humor to lighten the mood. Though I must admit it doesn’t always work as planned. Probably like now. No worries though, cause when that happens I just chalk it up to having a blonde moment. It works every time.

Now on to the actual post…

Being out of sorts yesterday once confronted with some lovely news, I quickly snapped myself out of it and left my pity party without a host. This is exactly why I have run on empty for so long and more so why when I look in the mirror I don’t recognize the girl staring back at me.

I seemed more like a shell than a person. How could that be? I mean is that even possible? But that is what I was, just a shell of a person and obviously having experienced it first hand, I can attest, it is possible.

Though I must admit, I do find it ironic that the answer had stared me right in the face all along. I’m not exactly sure if I just chose NOT to see it, or if I was really in that deep that I was just blinded. The jury’s still out.

However, today was different. Today, when I caught a glimpse of that girl staring back, for the first time in a very long time, I recognized me.

I recognized the girl I once was and actually still am. No person nor situation can ever take that away, not unless I allow it.

Reminded by this as I thought back to when I was in college. I had taken ill and had gone from doctor to doctor and none of them could find anything wrong with me. “It’s mono,” or my other favorite, too much stress from working 3 jobs and going to school.  Too much stress PLEASE. I was a lifeguard! Come on now!

However, I am not saying that I wasn’t stressed at all, because I absolutely was. I was sick and I wanted to know what was wrong with me. I could not only see but also feel that I wasn’t myself. Yet no one would listen. Everything changed on my way to work one morning, forced to make a detour to the ER as my throat suddenly began swelling shut.

Barely making it there, they had everything under control shortly, yet not knowing the underlining cause, they admitted me for further tests. It wasn’t long after my arrival that my favorite ENT Doctor was in my room calling me a hypochondriac and once again reminding me that I had mono. All I needed was 3 months of bed rest and I would be back to normal.

My darling doctor then ordered tests, performed later that day, every 2- 3 hours to prove his point. Meanwhile my neck was still swollen, not to mention I was in A LOT of pain. For me to say that, you know it was bad. I’ve had my fair share of injuries from playing sports. IE: field hockey, gymnastics, swimming, softball, cheerleading, etc. I even tore my rotator cuff lifeguarding. Overtime you learn to get through it.

Granted, I did refuse ALL medications, even the IV. Once he took over my case anyway. Hey if it wasn’t going to cure me then I didn’t want it. Besides I wasn’t bedridden, I could still drink and feed myself.

I went as far as refusing to change into a hospital gown. Well they were the ones saying I wasn’t sick not me.  Honestly, all I wanted was out and to go back to work. I was in the hospital for 4 and 1/2 days and only my Grandmother and her boyfriend came to see me. I clearly did not have alterior motives.

And yes, the behavior I described above was completely childish and immature. I am in total agreement. Though in all honesty, part of me kinda was, I was 20. Twenty and still sick, tired and frustrated. Over a year later and still with no answers. The circumstances pushed me way beyond limits that I didn’t even realize I was capable of. {Minus the childish and immature part.}

All I know is I wasn’t the one that had a point to prove nor did I have a need or desire to be the one who was RIGHT. I simply knew me, my body and that something was wrong. All I wanted was for someone to listen and make it all right again. I didn’t think that was such a hard thing to ask. Especially from a doctor.

Obviously I learned a lot going through that entire experience. Sometimes I think too much even because it changed my views about people and life in so many ways. I find myself wondering at times how my life would have been different if things didn’t go down as they did.

If you were to ask me if given the chance to do it all over again, would I change that part of my life, I would probably hesitate but only for a second before answering a firm No. Not a chance.

That part of my life made me who I am. It taught me what I needed to know, whether it be because of past karma or to prepare me for something or maybe because that’s simply life. The good and the bad. Everything created equal.

No matter the reason to why it happened, that fact remains that I persevered through it all. I see that clearer now than I ever did before.

I even learned to stand up for myself. The ENT Doc threatened that if I left against medical advice I then in turn would leave my parents a HUGE medical bill since insurance would refuse to pay.

That’s when I turned to face him and responded that I would then call the insurance company and tell them that he was running up the bill by ordering unnecessary tests since it was MORE THAN OBVIOUS that the mono tests were coming back negative since they kept testing and taking blood like clockwork.

I really didn’t know where exactly that came from. To this day I have no clue. But it worked. He shut up and walked out of the room. As for me I immediately sat down, needing to let my right leg shake itself out. I’m just glad I was able to keep it in check while I was making my closing argument. The quiet and shy girl was no more. For the most part anyway.

Funny how that story is completely opposite of anything I am dealing with now, yet in reflecting back on it, especially now as I write this post, I can see so many similarities.

When the time is right, you will know.

I only saw one more doctor after that conversation. As a favor to my family physician, he came to see me. It took him under 5 minutes to figure out what it was. Although he did not say it in words, I could just read his face.

Two biopsies later, {that’s another story in itself} and then my diagnosis. Lymphoma.

I find myself wondering what would have happened then if I had been as complacent as I was up until recently. hmm, I guess experience wise you could say I’m balanced out.

I think that’s what some might call a 360. Me Included.

Perseverance

What is perseverance?

  • Perseverance is commitment, hard work, patience, endurance.
  • Perseverance is being able to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint.
  • Perseverance is trying again and again.

Proverbs and maxims

  • Failure is the path of least persistence.
  • All things will come round to him who will but wait. (Longfellow)
  • Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.
  • Work hard and give it your best shot; never be a quitter. (Charley Taylor)
  • To persevere, trusting in what hopes he has, is courage to a man. (Euripides)
  • You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try. (Beverly Sills)

Perseverance in action

  • When something starts to bother you, wait as long as you can before you express frustration.
  • When something doesn’t work right, try again and again.
  • Don’t lose your temper when something upsets you.
  • Always finish what you start.
  • Keep working at something that is difficult until you complete it.
  • Don’t give up on difficult jobs or situations.
  • Focus on someone or something that ordinarily makes you lose your patience and try to understand it (and don’t “lose it”).
  • Work a little harder or a few minutes longer on a task that you do not like.

Not so cool ways to cope

  • Escape or avoid your problems.
  • Blame yourself.
  • Blame other people.
  • Blame chance.
  • Blame other things, forces, or powers.

Cool ways to cope

  • Face and accept what happens in your life.
  • Express your feelings.
  • Write about your feelings.
  • Get help if you need it.
  • Try to make it better.
  • Take good care of yourself.
  • Learn and grow from your experiences, including the ones that hurt.

Activities

  • Write in your journal about difficult situations and how you handled them without giving up.
  • Write a poem about suffering, what you can learn from it, how to face it, how not to hurt others, or anything else about obstacles.
  • Collect stories, poems, diaries, or quotations by writers about persistence.
  • Brainstorm cures for “the blues.”
  • Find out what help is there for people who face difficult situations – counselors, psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, therapists.
  • Explore the healing power of music.
  • Explore the healing power of exercise.
  • Explore the healing power of pets.
  • Put some extra effort into a project that is difficult and try to improve your skill (like public speaking or learning a dance).

*** I think I’m going to pass on the PUBLIC SPEAKING part myself. 😉

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