July 11 – Failure, must pursue it. Today was a pretty regular day to be honest. Compared to the other days I have been having there wasn’t a whole lot that happened today and I was pretty even keeled emotionally…until I talked with my mother at night.
She had emailed earlier in the day to discuss plans for when we go up in 3 weeks for the surgery. She is all about logistics and is great at them…probably why she has been such a great manager throughout her career. My intent on calling her was to figure these out, nothing more.
Let’s just say that this was one of the coolest conversations I have had with my mother in my life. It started with the logistics and during that discussion came her offer to come with me to my entire day of pre-operative testing.
Let me just pause for a second and run down this schedule for you of the preoperative day in case you are having this surgery and are wondering what testing day is like. It is from 8am until 6pm as scheduled, who knows how long it will actually be, and it looks like I have to go to a different building for each test. The tests are as follows:
CT of coronaries
Brain scan – will do MRA
Needless to say it will be a full day. My mother was adamant about wanting to come to this day with me and when I asked why enough times she opened up and told me. She started speaking about her experiences as a mother of a child with these conditions and how it has affected her. Her first clue that I had this was when I was two months old and turned blue in her arms not breathing. As a father of two I can not imagine what that must have been like.
She then spoke about the fond memories she had of us going to Yale for my follow ups and always stopping to have ice cream in the cafeteria after my yearly appointment. She talked about how tough the transition was for her when I was 18 and in college and she no longer came into the room with me to see the doctor. She struggled to let go and push me to manage the issue on my own but did what she needed to do as a parent; thank God she did.
It was a raw side of my mother that I have never seen before as it relates to me and my heart condition. There were tears and reassurances from me to her about how grateful I am for how she and my father handled everything. How they never treated me like a “sick kid” and always pushed me to be my best.
I think the most rewarding thing for me was to be able to tell my mother about this writing I am doing and how I had forced myself to become more self aware and really accept this as a part of who I am. To change my view point of this situation to an opportunity instead of a burden and an unfair event.
When I told her I was thankful that I have a bicuspid valve, a coarctation in my aorta as well as an ascending aorta that needs replacement it was liberating for me and caught her off guard. I was able to show my mother how much this journey which started when I was two months old has shaped me into the man I am now and the leader I am going to be in the future when I come through this. I was able to share my strength and positive self talk with her and I believe improve how she felt about the whole situation.
If you are suffering from a disease I implore you to speak with your caregivers, your family, your parents. If you are going through a tough time in general, talk to your loved ones about how you are feeling about it and how you are dealing with it.
Talk to them about how you are handling your experience and if you are able to turn this thing on its head and use it as an opportunity for growth then share that with them too. You are not the only one struggling with this. In fact, you may be the person that is handling it the best out of everyone.
To those that much is given, much is required. Every crucible, challenge or struggle in your life is an opportunity that not everyone else has. Yes it is hard, no it is not fair and yes sometimes it just plain sucks. But you know what? You’re only doing one of two things in life. You are either getting better or you are getting worse. There is no maintaining status quo.
So today, what are you doing? Are you striving to better yourself and your situation or are you wallowing and looking for pity with negative self talk and weak questions?
Step up to the plate and seize the opportunity to change other people’s lives by living yours for growth every minute of every day.