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

The Right Words at the Right Time

Ever hear a story that makes you say to yourself, “boy did that story come at the right time?”  That’s why story is so powerful, because it’s a universal way of communicating deep thoughts.  They help us navigate the difficult times and celebrate the good times.  Our stories, especially the ones that we retell show what is important in our lives because we want to share our personal revelations.

This morning I was watching a rerun of The West Wing  and the following story was told.

     A guy falls in a hole with very steep walls and can’t get out.  A doctor passes by and the person yells, “Hey doc can you help me?”  The doctor writes a prescription and throws it down in the hole.  A little while later a minister walks by and once again the guy in the hole yells, “Reverend, can you help me get out of here?”  The minister writes a prayer and throws it down in the hole.  A little while later a friend walks by and the guy yells, “Hey Joe, can you help me get out of here?”  Joe jumps down into the hole .  The guy says to him, “why would you do that now we’re both stuck in the hole.”  Joe replies, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know how to get out!”

That story is important because it punctuates a couple of points.  We can’t get by in life without support.  Even more importantly, finding those who have walked a mile in your shoes, maybe even are a bit ahead of you on the journey to wellness could be a true life saver. 

This story is important because I’ve learned both personally and professionally that accruing information shared by others about how to live a full life with a chronic or life-altering illness is crucial to our sanity.  The lessons learned about how to deal with the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of a health challenge can save you a lot of suffering.  Having someone who will serve as a Sherpa through this steep learning curve will allow you the freedom to focus on healing instead of fighting against an entity you can’t see.  It’s an uneven playing field and that’s why you need the support of others.

Having a trusted person who understands your struggles, knows where the potholes are, and knows the resources to alleviating the strife can ease the pain experienced on all levels and free you to concentrate on one thing, getting better.  As I’ve shared before, not everyone will be cured, but everyone can experience healing.  I’ve been honored to accompany thousands of people on their journey to wellness over the past twenty-four years. 

If I can provide you with any further information check out the website, or call me, Greg Katz, at 720-851-6736.

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

The Key Ingredient in Making Healthcare Decisions

You have tons of decisions to make on a daily basis.  Life is one continuous decision.  Now add a diagnosis to the mix of decision-making…feeling a bit ovewhelmed?  Once the dust settles and you can hear and respond to your doctor there are plenty of decisions to make regarding your care so where do you begin?

If you don’t let the dust settle you end up making decisions without a sense of being grounded.  Decisions about your healthcare wind up being ethereal.  This is no time to have your head in the clouds. 

I was watching a rerun of The West Wing, and the President, played by Martin Sheen states the following, “Decisions are made by those who show up.”  That’s a very powerful statement because it makes a request, maybe even a demand of you that requires action instead passivity. It requires that you show up for yourself in a way you may have never show up before for any decision in your life.

Showing up means not only being informed, but having the capacity and the willingness to advocate for yourself.  Like any other skill it may require a bit of training, but it’s totally doable.  Being catapulted into this arena means you have a steep learning curve, but the key to showing up is becoming resilient to challenges.  Resiliency or the ability to bounce back is a key component to making good decisions.  It’s difficult to make good decisions when you’ve been knocked to the ground and unable to get back up.

This may be a good time to take a personal inventory of your ability to show up.  When have you showed up in the past where you were conscious and engaged in the decision-making process.  How do decisions about your healthcare differ from decisions in the past and how are they similar.  I’d venture to say that even though the content may be different the process of decision making may be the same.  Did the process work for you last time or does it need to be tweaked?

Show up!  Show up!  Show up!  In case you didn’t get the message…Show up!

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

Does the Smithosonian Know About You?

The Smithsonian is one of the most celebrated and prestigious museums in the world.  It archives history of the United States like no other museum could ever accomplish.  Those who are in the Smithsonian, represented in some way for their accomplishments, achievements, and contributions have a special place in our history. 

There’s a bumper sticker/refrigerator magnet etc. that states, “Well behaved women seldom make history”.  Think about that for a moment and then see how it applies to your life, compare and contrast the figures you admire most in the Smithsonian.  How does your life measure up?  If we were putting together a museum just about you what would be the highlights?

When diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness merely trying isn’t good enough.  Until your mind, body, and spirit are on the same page with a common goal you’re probably just going through the motions.  Your life is too precious to simply just go through the motions.  A quote from the show The West Wing states, “You think there’s a room in the Smithsonian for guys who never tried?”

There’s nothing about overcoming an illness that’s easy.  For many the simple act of getting out of bed in the morning could be the biggest challenge of the day, but trying is a must.  Whether the reason you can’t get out of bed is physical or emotional; the act of trying, desiring, even willing if necessary goes a long way.

I’m not suggesting that you have to fly around the world looking for gurus and healers who will perform miracles.  I am suggesting that you take your thoughts and actions one step further than usual.  It’s too easy when facing a health challenge to get caught in the rut of the same.  Life becomes a routing when it should be a continual mystery.

How will you make history for yourself?  What can you do today, just one thing that will move you one step deeper in healing your mind, body, and/or spirit?  Who do you need to call to join you in this mission?  Don’t be well-behaved, be outrageous!

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

Aspects of Change

Change is tough, there’s no denying it; but is it impossible?  Do we only make changes in our lives when we’re challenged or put to a test?  What is it about change that’s so difficult?  Culturally many of us have been taught not to upset the apple cart, so to speak.  We’re taught to go with the flow, don’t make waves, and being good means following directions.  Those who invoke change are often labeled as rebels or mavericks, but is that true or are they (we) answering to a higher calling?

Facing a health challenge, whether chronic or life-threatening, forces change.  It requires that we alter some aspect of our physical, emotional, or spiritual lives both in thoughts and actions.  We’re mandated to make certain aspects of our lives obsolete for the greater good, our health.  Even with these mandates, some of us find it very difficult to make changes.  The easiest example is in weight management. 

If you watch the NBC show The Biggest Loser you may ask yourself how is it that a 30-year-old, 500+ pound man on medication, joint problems, and other health challenges hadn’t take the necessary steps to lose the weight?  The answer is clear; his Achilles heel wasn’t touched.  For many of us with a chronic or life-threatening illness, the diagnosis is the arrow in our Achilles heel, but it takes bigger measures for some.

After years of fighting high cholesterol, a side-effect of one of my medication, I finally joined a gym.  I didn’t want to do it and I’ve fought it every step of the way.  Why the shift?  I heard a quote this morning on The West Wing  that I believe sums it up beautifully, “Change come in excruciating increments for those who want it!”  I’ve wanted the change, but it meant accumulating enough of those increments to put it in action.

What will get you to move incrementally toward health and healing?  How can you accumulate enough incremental steps to notice a shift in your attitudes, behaviors, or beliefs?  When facing a health challenge we all want change, but what price are we willing to pay for it?  It’s no different from anything else in life, we have to work for it…so let’s get to work!

Posted in Caregiving

Your Chief-of-Staff

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!

Wouldn’t it be great if we all had someone who would give us counsel, look out for our well-being, and protect us from everything in the world?  That’s exactly what the President has in his Chief-of-Staff.  I was thinking about how this interprets into real life after watching a rerun of The West Wing.  In the episode, the President is off to give the State of the Union address.  As is customary, a member of the cabinet is left behind in case of Armageddon and the Capitol building is destroyed killing all the government officials in the building.  The cabinet member selected to remain out of the capitol was the Secretary of Agriculture.

As the President is leaving for the speech he says to the Secretary, do you have a best friend?  Is he/she smarter than you?  Would this person lay down their life for you?  That’s your chief-of-staff.  How about that, three simple questions to determine who that person would be in your life.

Translate that to your life as a caregiver/wellness partner.  We need advisors because we’re emotionally connected to the outcome of any decision.  We have a skewed view of the world and about its fairness.  There are lots of opportunities for you to make life more difficult than it needs to be and having someone who can tell you the caring truth is a lifesaver. 

Having a community is critical in our culture.  We are social creatures and isolation is bad for your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  Experiencing support, love, and protection from another human being who can be objective will help give you perspective about your own life and about the decisions you have to make as a caregiver/wellness partner.

It doesn’t matter what your personal issues are as a caregiver; creating the capacity to look at the big picture is important.  Utilizing your “chief-of-staff” as a sounding board gives you time to weigh options, gather information, and make informed decisions.  Recruit your own chief-of-staff and see how it may improve your quality of life…it’s a win-win situation.