Attitude is Everything
The one thing I have learned on this journey is that attitude is everything. It can either make us or break us. Yes, I am a very positive person and I keep myself going by not giving into the emotional side of chronic illness. I refuse to let that take me down.
Being chronically ill …no matter what stage we are at…we can either have that attitude and see something good in each day or we can waller in it as we call it in the south. And waller in it means you lay back and just roll in the muck of being sick. There is no fight, no drive, nothing looks good and when people want to waller in it..they do not want to see the good or the positive.
I have been through more than most since I have been barely 30 and I think I am still here today fighting with all I have because I do prefer to see the positive. I do prefer looking for the good and trying to not let my pain conquer me. I use the phrase “at least it is not the 60 pound tumor” to remind myself it could always be worse. That is not diminishing what I go through, it is making me keep in perspective what I am going through. I have so many things wrong but it could always be worse and as long as I keep that in mind, then I realize that I am not as bad off as I think. And that makes me thankful…thankful that it is not as bad as it could be.
See, that is the attitude part. I have met people through the years and all a few do is talk about all that is wrong with them. If you try to get them to see something positive, they actually get angry because they do not want to see anything positive. And believe me, no matter how bad you are..there is always something good to see…always…if you allow yourself to look for it. There is always something to be grateful for….always. You may have to look for it but if you look, you will find it.
I remember one year, my sons were in the 3rd grade and the 6th grade. I was a single Mom…one son had 1/3 of his body burned with 3rd degree burns and was in the hospital for over a month, the other one was in a back brace from curvature of the spine and the doctors were talking putting a rod down his spine and I had to have surgery and my health was not good. Now, that is pretty darn overwhelming and yet…through it all..my sons and I found a way to find something positive..something to be thankful for. The mind is a powerful thing and if we allow ourselves to use it and believe that we will get better and believe that we can use tools to make the pain better, then life is better.
I suppose you wonder what we found to be thankful for with that situation. We were thankful we were all still together. We were thankful that when my son got burned, a friend came and took my youngest son and kept him during that time so that I could be at the hospital with my other son. We were thankful when I had to have major surgery, that a friend stayed with both the boys while I was in the hospital. And most of all, we were thankful when we got back home to all pile up in the big bed and just be together. It is all attitude.
When I had lung surgery, I was alone with no one to take care of me and when I had kidney surgery …after 7 days in the hospital, Son brought me home. After missing a week of work, he had to return to work and I was in such bad shape that I could not even dress myself and could barely get up to go to the bathroom. The pain was the most horrific of any I ever had. And yet, it was my sheer determination…my attitude that brought me through it. I was determined to not let this take me down totally. I was alone all day from 10 in the morning until my son got up at 9 to go back to work at 10 PM. And if anyone had a right to get depressed and give into the pain, I did at that time.
But, it was my attitude that kept me going.. I found things to make me smile. I found reasons to be grateful, such as the fact that I had lived through the surgery, or that there was such a thing as Ensure so that I could keep bottles of it by my bed. I lost about 36 pounds in 30 days. I reminded myself of those less fortunate. It kept me in perspective.
No, it did not mean that I was not in pain. It did not mean I was minimizing my pain. I was just keeping myself focused on the truth…that things can always be a lot worse and so being grateful I was not any worse than I was helped me through. My computer was beside me and while I may not have felt like typing..I enjoyed reading and looking at videos. I slept in the recliner because that was the only place I could get up from to go to the bathroom. And after healing a couple of weeks, I started doing things for others to get my mind away from thinking about me and my health. I started sending cards to people shut in with poetry I had written. Amazing how when you do for someone else having problems, you tend to get distracted from your own.
I know some people hate to hear this but it is a choice. We can choose to be happy and to find joy in our lives. I chose to do things to keep me distracted from the pain while I healed. I even called the Library story book number and listened to the stories. I watched videos online. I did cards. I listened to music with my headphone. Attitude affects healing. Negative energies slow down your healing and positive energies help speed them up.
I have amazed Doctors who would tell me they could not believe how well I was doing. And it was attitude and the determination to be happy and to find reasons to be grateful that did it. I have watched different people at the pain clinic come in. Some sit in their seats with a bitter, angry look and tell everyone within hearing how much pain they are in and they get madder and work themselves up emotionally because they are having to wait and of course their pain goes up. And then I watch others..the ones that come in and seem at peace. If you look close, you can tell they are in pain but they are not throwing it out there for the world to see. They do a lot of things I do, like with my mojo cap I wear. They talk, they smile and they make jokes. And if you did not pay close attention, you would not know they were in such bad pain. Attitude is every things. And they are the type that do not like the word “Can’t”. Tell us we can not and we will bust our hineys proving you wrong.
That does not mean we do not ever say we are hurting. It means that we do not let our whole being center around our illness or our pain. If we did, it would consume us. Studies have shown the power of the mind. Soldiers given basically sugar pills because they were out of morphine in WWII were told those pills were the newest and strongest pain pill that worked wonders and they got pain relief. Other studies have shown that attitude affects healing. Those with a better attitude do better.
I believe that we learn our attitude from those around us as we grow up. As I laid here trying to think of the perfect example to show you all what I am trying to say, a scene flashed before my eyes. It was my Sweetpea when she was five. She played soccer and one day a little kid kicked the ball and it hit her hard in the stomach. As I sat with my son and his wife watching, I could see my son tense up but he did not move. And without thinking, because I could see Sweetpea about to start crying and I started yelling out “Go Sweetpea, go. Great job. Go Sweetpea go” and instantly she started running down the field again after that ball. She could have just started crying and stopped playing but she did not. I knew she was not badly injured, just stunned from the ball.
This is how I deal with pain and chronic illness. I think of it as playing the game of my life and I can either crumble and cry or I can keep going, keep pushing to stay on my feet and to survive and keep pushing to find ways to deal with the pain and still live a joyful life. It is a choice and when I have those days where I just can not go, I know that God carries me until I can start the fight once more.
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