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

Is Your Life A Page Turner?

If you’ve read any of my more than 700 posts you know that I’m all about the story.  I believe it’s our stories that allow us to connect to people and help us heal.  Think about the importance of someone bearing witness to your life, and how that witness becomes part of your story.  I’ve sat in numerous support group, therapy group, and story telling sessions and the one thing in common is how mesmerizing our stories are, and how they shape not only our own lives but the lives of others.  So is your life a page turner?

I like to look at the Sunday New York Times (online) because the book section lists all the newest books and has a review of each.  I’ve gotten some amazing recommendations and each one was a page turner.  There are stories all around us that captivate us like the people who saved a family from a car that went over an embankment into a river, or the story of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords amazing and ongoing recovery from being shot at point-blank range in the head.  We tell these stories because we connect to them in some way.  We want to connect with the heroes around us, or be inspired by those who make an amazing recovery, especially if you’re facing the diagnosis of a chronic or life-altering illness.  We need these stories because they feed us and give us the nourishment our mind and souls need to continue telling our own story.

Your story doesn’t have to be a bestseller to be impactful.  You don’t have to be a national hero or a guru with thousands of followers for your story to be impactful.  Your story has to be real.  Your story has to be told from the heart.  Your story can’t be like a sitcom in syndication that we see as reruns over and over again because people get tired of those stories and move on.  Your story has to be evolving because we as humans are constantly evolving.  If you’re living your life with the philosophy of  (pardon my expression), “Same Crap, Different Day”; then you’re stagnating and that may be killing you more than any health challenge possibly can.

Your story is important and I’d love to hear it, read it, help you live it!  Feel free to tell your story in the comment section, or as always you can email me at greg@survivingstrong.com …. That’s all Folks!

Posted in coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity

Following the Health and Healing Trail of Gabrielle Giffords

This weekend the news was of the new pictures of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  There were two photos released; one of her alone and the other with her mother who has been by her side every day at the rehabilitation hospital.  Why was this so newsworthy?  It shows that hard work pays off.  It shows what can be accomplished with a great team of doctors.  It emphasizes the importance of strong family support following the diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness or injury.

Congresswoman Giffords was shot in the head at point-blank range back in December.  It’s truly a miracle that she survived the shooting, but somehow with advances in treating brain injuries she lived.  The road to recovery is still progressing.  News reports state that she may be leaving the inpatient rehab program by the end of the month and will be an outpatient for many months to come.  The reports from the doctors, her family (her husband is an astronaut who just returned from commanding the space shuttle), and her staff is that she’s making daily progress, but still has a way to go.

The odds are that if you’re reading this you weren’t shot in the head at close range.  However, the diagnosis may have felt like you were shot in the heart.  It may have shocked your soul to its core because you believed, as we all do, that we’ll lead long healthy lives.  One of the questions is, “Can your heart go to rehab?”(not cardiac rehab, soul rehab) to recapture the faith in your own body?  How will you measure your progress?  What does recovery or wellness look like to you?

I guess the real point I want to make is that health and healing is work.  It’s multi-dimensional including body, mind, and spirit.  Just like an athlete who trains for a competition, you’ll need to do more than simply take your medication because healing needs to take place on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels of your life.  Think about what body, mind, and spirit rehab looks like to you?

Remember, Congresswoman Giffords is not only a role model for healing, but a goal model.  Her ongoing journey is an inspiration and I wish her well!

Posted in after the diagnosis

Everything Changes in a Second

If you’re old enough when asked where you were when President Kennedy was shot you zero in on that moment like it was yesterday.  If you’re a bit younger, a more recent moment in time was September 11th.  This brings up many thoughts and emotions and those experiences are relived every time you tell the story of what you were doing.  Many people remember where they were and what they were doing the day the O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of killing Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. 

Saturday the country suffered another one of those seconds in time when everything changes; an individual shot and killed six people and gravely injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  Time is a funny thing because even though it’s the same we experience it differently depending on the situation at hand.  I’m sure on Saturday the people attending the Congresswoman’s event feel like time was a blur.  It becomes a domino effect when the news outlets begin reporting and we all get caught up in the horror.  Those directly impacted receive the support of a nation, but what about you?

I have no doubt that you remember the day you received your diagnosis of a chronic or other life-altering illness.  My story is a bit different because I was diagnosed as a child, and there had been an inkling when I was very young what lay ahead for my health.  How much do you remember about the day you were diagnosed?  What type of support did you receive on the day you were diagnosed and the days that followed?  Your story wasn’t covered on the news so how do you round-up support.

When a tragedy like the shooting in Tucson occurs it’s on every news cycle for days.  When you were diagnosed there was no media coverage so the first thing that happened was you had to tell people what just happened to you.  There weren’t media outlets reporting on the change that happened to you so the support you received was directly correlated to the number of people you were able to tell. 

One of the things that many people I’ve worked with in the past have done was to create a blog or a website following their diagnosis to keep their friends and family informed of their health status.  This allows people to offer words of support without having to be intrusive.  It also allows you to give those in your life up-to-the-minute information about your life without having to field lots of phone calls. 

What happened on Saturday was a tragedy for the individuals and families who were victims of the shooting; as well as the country.  Your diagnosis was also a tragedy.  It changed everything in your life in a moment, but the question to ask is, “How did you move forward following the diagnosis?”  and “How do you continue to move forward on your journey to health and healing?” 

A “second” seems so small and yet the fact that everything in a person’s life can change in a “second” give it a place of importance.  I hope you continue to take care of yourself and allow every “second” to count!