Despite best efforts, the list had become so long I’d given up adding to it and moved on to a method of not adding a new item till I’ve crossed out one already on the list. Psychologically it is a good model….if I do nothing at all the list never gets longer and I don’t have to feel like I’m falling behind. In truth, most of these projects are things I really do want to get to. What I realized while I was sitting receiving some generous donor’s A+ red blood cells was that the reason I had so many projects was because I had a serious attitude problem. Instead of seeing all the benefits of knocking off the items on the list (like finally getting all those years of slides digitized), I just see the hours of work.
My youngest son Nicholas had a message on attitude from author Charles Swindoll tacked to his wall when he was in high school.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
I like to believe I’ve always been a “glass half full” kind of guy but since Nick’s death I’ve tried to keep this as a central part of how I approach life. I have a framed version of Swindoll’s message to help remind me of this gift Nick has given me. It’s been particularly helpful in facing this latest challenge with cancer.
I’ve discovered there are two approaches I can take to dealing with challenges. I can let my emotions drive my attitude or I can choose my attitude and let it set my emotions. There are lots of responses I could take to getting Leukemia. Anger is certainly one, but who am I going to be angry at and what good is it going to do. The way I figure it, there are things that are out of my control and things that I can manage. I try to concentrate on the latter.
Certainly there are times where you want to whine or complain about how you feel, and I’m sure I do my share of that, but I try to keep it to minimum and to a small group of people. Complaining to friends about something that no one can do anything about only makes them feel helpless and drives them away at a time when you just need their prayers and to know they are there.
As I entered the hospital for my next round of chemo this week I’ve tried to keep all this in mind. It’s tough knowing each of these treatments have a cumulative effect and the resulting discomfort comes on faster and lasts longer each time, but I know we will get through it. As Pam and I joke…it’s much like the resulting constipation…this too will pass….eventually.
So know that I’m doing OK and well into my current round of chemo. Blood counts are not good but they are about where they are expected to be. Recovery will take a bit longer this time but I should be up and around in a couple of days, in two weeks or so I should have my appetite back, and by three weeks I’ll start to get my sense of taste back and I’ll be able to go out without wearing a mask. Small milestones but things to look forward to as I work towards the next round of treatment. And then it’s “Ground Hog Day” and we do it all over again.
As always…thanks for all the messages of support and prayers, they really help.