Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

When It’s Out of Your Hands

The Olympics are definitely in full force and since it’s the Winter Olympics we have Mother Nature to contend with throughout the events.  At the beginning of the games the big news story was how warm it was in Vancouver, then yesterday things changed and unfortunately some athletes got caught in a bad situation.

In case you didn’t hear the fog and snow conditions were bad on the mountain.  They were running more than one athlete on the course with a one minute separation trying to expedite the process.  Unfortunately Lindsey Vonn fell, was injured and while being attended to, Julia Mancuso had begun her run at the top.  At one point a referee stopped Mancuso, and then she was given a second run from the beginning.

Why am I telling you this story?  The weather conditions were unfavorable and that’s out of our control.  The only thing we can control in that moment are our thoughts and reactions.  Obviously this was a huge disappointment for Vonn who was slated to win the event, but as you know after being diagnosed with an illness, life is unpredictable.

Julia Mancuso on the other hand was halted during her run as a result of another athletes injury.  Although given a second run there is rarely enough stamina or focus to make that run twice.  These are extreme athletes who are trained to leave it all on the mountain, track, ice, etc.  Nothing is done half-way and that takes years of training. 

Your diagnosis is like Mancuso, something goes wrong ahead of you and you get caught in the fray.  What was ahead of you was a shift within your body, the rest of you had to catch up to find out what happened.  Was Mancuso discouraged, distraught, and devastated?  Of course she was and this wasn’t a life-threatening or challenging event, this was one moment in her personal history.  For you this is a life-altering event.  This does change everything in front of you.  This isn’t one moment in time that is finished in under two minutes. 

Let’s chunk this down to the most basic components.  Life-altering doesn’t have to be bad forever.  It’ okay to be discouraged, distraught, and devastated.  Your illness doesn’t define you, just as Mancuso’s loss doesn’t define her.  There are things bigger and greater than us that at times take control of everything and anything.  There is a Chinese proverb that fits with a diagnosis and the Winter Olympics, “Fall down seven times, get up eight”.  Can you think of anything more inspiring?


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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