Bodacious!

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A good surprise today…I was visited by Bodacious Bill.

Wikipedia defines “bodacious” as “Extremely cool, most excellent”—and Bodacious Bill is certainly that. He’s one of those people who are almost too good to be true: handsome, fit, smart, pleasant, with a good sense of humor. He is the CEO of a large association, and I have been the president of his fan club since he appeared on the scene several years ago.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable visit—we talked about people we both know (some might say we gossiped…) and what was going on in each of our lives. As we were talking I had one of those “Aha” moments—you know, when the light bulb flashes on above your head and illuminates an otherwise shadowy perception.

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Bill is a self-made man. He told me that his father never learned to read, and couldn’t write much, even though he was a complex and intelligent person. On the other hand, Bill is bodacious. I can only assume there’s an abundance of self-discipline and goal-reaching in his life to have gotten that way, and indeed heis one of those obnoxious runners you see in the morning, doing 5 miles before work and winning iron man triathlons on weekends. ( Already Judith the Hipless is intimidated.)

And I realize that yes, I too have goals at this point—nothing so impossible as an iron person triathlon, but I want to be able to walk the pink sand beaches of Eleuthera and look good in a bathing suit that has enough fabric to cover my hip scar and two cancer scars. ( I do mean suit, not caftan, but suit— something where my arms and legs are visible…)

That’s my goal. I practice all the personal coaching techniques I impose on my clients—I meditate, visualize, write positive statements and list ‘gratitudes’. I find that a good time to do that is the daily 45 minutes I spend with the IV tube connected to my arm—I close my eyes and envision myself in flip flops and a bright blue bathing suit on the beach at Tarpum Bay.

But once the IV is out and I painfully creak out of bed and hobble with my walker into the bathroom, the gloom descends again, despite the countless exhortations from my friends and family to ‘keep my spirits up’. “Easy for YOU to say,” I snarl to myself.

“Why is this not working?”, I ask myself. “Because your vision is not a goal, it’s a fantasy,” I answer back (we Geminis can have endless important conversations between our spli8t personalities). “Ok, then, what’s the sign of a goal and what distinguishes it from a fantasy?”

I remember reading an arti8cle on effective goal setting that tries to answer that question. It said, “Goals must be Smart”—they must have the characteristics of being Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Aha! (Note the lightbulb!) There’s the problem. The goal of smooshing the pink sand between my toes is missing some characteristics of a goal—it’s not measurable and it has no time frame. In other words, as long as I sit here waiting for the next set of lab results and the decision of two doctors, I have no markers to judge progress. There is no feeling of everything I do today gets me closer to my goal, because what I am really waiting for is the opportunity to have hip replacement surgery just like I did on October 8. (What I don’t want is the opportunity to begin this whole process over again–broken bones; infections; and weeks away from my little house in the woods, my music, and my dogs.)

Instead, the outcome of my tedious daily routine is unspecified: I have no clue about the markers the doctors will use to guide their decisions and even if I did, I suspect there’s nothing I can do to influence them except what I am doing now. It’s this state of suspended animation, or colloidal suspension that renders me so helpless and frustrated— because yes, I am like Bodacious Bill in this one regard: I am a goal setter and an attainer of what runners might call ‘personal best’. But ‘personal best’ is not a criteria in this fight: it’s how well does the medications fights infections, what are the results of my blood tests, and what will the doctors decide. These events are outside my sphere of influence. I am always willing to trust the decisions to the experts, mind you, and the only thing I can do at this point is to practice patience.

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7 thoughts on “Bodacious!

  1. I understand that you are dealing with a major health problem. Your situation brings to mind a time in my life about thirty years ago when I was dealing with a health issue. By comparison mine was very minor, but there is some common ground. For what its worth (if anything?) I will relate my story.

    At age 30 I started having a problem with a low grade urinary tract (UT) infection. I consulted with a urologist. He said yes, you have an infection and he prescribed an oral antibiotic to treat it.

    After a week on the pill, the infection appeared to go away. Great, the antibiotic pill had worked! But then about three weeks later the UT infection returned. I went to the urologist again. He gave me a different antibiotic pill and I took it according to directions. In ten days the UT infection went away.

    Another three weeks passed. And then the #%&*~!^ UT infection came back again. That was unsettling. So I again went back to my friendly urologist. I was wondering if I was going to have to take antibiotic pills forever.

    As I chatted with the doctor, he said that he wanted to try a completely different approach. He told me that he had recently read in his medical literature about cases like mine that had been cured by the patient taking a daily regimen of vitamin pills. That apparently had the effect of building up the patient’s own immune system which allowed the patient to fight off the UT infection without taking any antibiotic drugs.

    I was feeling discouraged, but I didn’t think that I had anything to lose by trying that approach. I was right in the middle of an uncomfortable UT infection when I started taking the vitamins.

    After a week on the vitamins I felt a lot better, and after two weeks it felt like the infection was completely cured. That was a marvelous change. I reported those results to my urologist, and he was pleased that it had worked. He said to keep on taking the vitamins.

    I continued taking the daily dose of vitamins for the next two years and I had no more UT problems. Then on my own I decided to do an experiment. Did I really need to continue taking the vitamins every day?

    I reduced my vitamin intake to just one multiple vitamin in order to see what would happen. Guess what? In about three weeks I could feel a UT infection starting up again. Okay, back to the vitamins.

    I have continued taking my daily vitamins over the last 30 years. Over the past eight years I have fine-tuned the actual type and dosage a bit. My goal was to cut the vitamin dose to the minimum that would prevent the UT infections. I think I have accomplished that goal and I am now taking less vitamin dosage than what I had been taking long term. I am still alive and well now at age 66, so I think it is fair to say that the vitamins have not had any adverse affect.

    So that’s my success story. I don’t know if it might have any application to your situation. It would be presumptuous of me to give you any medical advice. I only mention my story to you in case you might choose to discuss it with your own doctors.

    Best wishes,
    Hector

  2. Thanks, Hector, for your story. There is much truth there…I am, in fact, taking vitamins, iron, and calcium to build me up for the next surgery, and I’ve never felt more energetic and healthy. Of course, the other part of that is the that because I’ve retired I don’t have daily job stress. Now, if I could just get past the first item on my ‘things to do in retirement’ checklist (“Have total hip replacement surgery”), I have many ways to put my energy to good use.

  3. Wow, what an insight! SMART makes so much sense. In life, I tend to want to drive. The only times I have been frustrated have been when I could not set my own goals. I suddenly have the deepest sympathy for your present status. I can handle knowing I need to get something fixed and then it heals in x number of days. I just face it and deal with it and get on with driving down the road of life. You’ve been thrown out of the car. Perhaps it can be useful to sit on the side of the road for a bit and reflect. But, Dam*&^it! You want to get back behind the wheel.

    Specific – not a bikini but a bathing suit.

    Measurable – containing enough fabric for modesty,

    Attainable – yep, a good walking regime once it is allowed,

    Realistic – you are in the best of care and headed in a positive direction

    Timely – Shorts for Evart and the bathing suit for Eleuthera in the fall.

    Hugs, my friend.

  4. Great, Gwyn. You helped me see my goal as “smart”, even if I don’t have any choice on scheduling the surgery! Thanks, too, for the chocolate covered dried cherries. Yum!!!

    Gertie

  5. Dear Gertie,
    SMART goals are interrelated to hopes, don’t you think? Something that helped me through a tough time of needing cancer treatment every year was the notion of having many hopes. Some small and immediate, such as calling someone in particular. Some grand and long-range, such as writing a book. Some completely within my control and others reflective of forces beyond my comprehension, let alone my control. Some hopes having to do with my health, and many others- many, many others- having nothing to do with my physical well-being, treatments, and prognosis.
    If a specific hope gets dashed or goal becomes impossible to reach, people with lots of hopes and goals can still move forward and feel the progress. New hopes can be nourished and new goals created to replace the ones now gone.

    Here’s a new goal for me: Think of some way to send you a Valentine on Thursday. Hmmm. I’m open to suggestions.
    with hope, Wendy (S. Harpham, MD)

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