In the past week I have met two people who I find truly inspiring. I would like to tell you about them in great detail since their stories are so amazing to me. I cannot, however, due to the privacy laws related to the healthcare profession. I love my job and would hate to lose it for privacy violations, so without giving away identities and any relevant details, let me attempt to relate their impact on me in a meaningful, yet vague, manner.
John, (not his real name, Duh) came to my place of employment for one reason and once here, he learned that the expectations he arrived with could not be fulfilled. For most people, that would have been very disappointing, but John wasn’t phased. It was just another chance to learn something. Due to some substantial difficulties he was experiencing, he was referred to me since I am equipped to address his particular problem. Now, you need to know that in my job I work with people who are often very sick and also may be severely disfigured. Suffice it to say that John fits both categories but if you closed your eyes and listened to him, you would never know it. His voice and speech betray his appearance.
If he was in the room next door and you overheard his conversation, he is the luckiest guy alive. His voice is bright and cheery. He is full of laughter, as is his wife. To listen to him, you would swear he doesn’t have any problems. He doesn’t seem to think so, anyway. Besides, even if he had a problem, he can manage it or at least get someone to help, since “it isn’t that bad anyway”. Nobody owes him a thing. He is grateful to be wherever he is at that moment, regardless of where that may be. If you saw his face while talking, you would be just as awestruck as I am, since he has lots of substantial problems. He just doesn’t act like it. It’s not denial. It’s just a calm acceptance that he has no control over this situation and that there is no reason to get upset about it.
Although he travelled a great distance to be here, his circumstance is grave, and things did not work out as he planned, he was not rattled. He told me several times in the past 3 days that he was so grateful to be here because he met me and that our sessions made the entire trip worthwhile. How humbling is that? He said I offered him some hope and relief from the issues he is dealing with and that because of what he learned, he and his wife can address his concerns and they both feel that his quality of life will be improved. They both hugged me after our last session today since he is returning home this weekend and it really isn’t known whether or not I will see him again.
Excuse me while I wipe the tears from my eyes.
Meet Jane. In her 30s, she is now nearing the end of her life, exhausted and weak after several years of cancer treatment. She has elected to stop treatment since it was not preventing the cancer from spreading and it was making her so ill that she could not function. In a situation where options for control seem limited, Jane exercised the little control she has left to preserve her energy and dignity. I greatly respect that as a cancer patient myself. When the circumstances are miserable and quality of life is rapidly diminishing with no hope of cure, I understand exactly why she made that decision. Jane is well educated, realistic, funny, and very intent on using the remainder of her life (likely less than 6 months) however she wishes to, within the confines of her physical limitations. What do I mean?
She is homebound but signed up for an online certification course in a subject area she wanted to learn about. Had she studied it before? No. Is she going to use it vocationally? No. She won’t work again. She just wants to learn more. That’s who she is. I think that’s awesome!
She has children but is too sick to care for them so she has family support to help. You might think that is sad, but she is seeing them when she can and is being an excellent role model for them by exercising her will and her mind, despite her body’s failure to support her desires to do more physically. Although Jane certainly struggles with not being able to be the mom she wants to be due to her illness, she is being the best mom she can be, given her circumstances, and I respect that immensely.
She also works at communicating with her friends and since her outings are limited now, conversations are more electronic than interpersonal these days. The take home point? Jane hasn’t quit life, even though she has elected to stop her treatment. She is participating as she can and I think that is an awesome thing to see.
I don’t know about you, but people like John and Jane inspire me. They make me look closer at my life and examine my motives, attitudes, behaviors, and overall level of performance from day to day. After watching these two amazing people, how can I be less than thrilled with my life? When I compare my circumstances with either of theirs, I don’t have any problems. I just hope that if I ever get into either of their shoes, I demonstrate the type of grace, strength, and determination that I see in them. Their character inspires me to look at my life, take control of the things I can, and release the rest. If you are anything like me, you need that too.
Thanks John and Jane