Monday, June 20, 2016

Attitude is Everything

I was in the hospital getting a blood transfusion a while back (a 6+ hour process) and I was thinking about all the things on my “to do” list back home.   I have a pile of projects that I promised myself I would get to when I was no longer working and had all sorts of time.  In a lot of cases work served as an excuse for avoiding projects I really had no intention of ever doing.  I’m a firm believer in the theory that if you can put a project off long enough it may become irrelevant (like those boxes that never got unpacked through three moves).    I’ve found that doesn’t work particularly well for things like taking out the trash, cleaning up after the dogs or avoiding the dentist.

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. 


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave, I don't know you from school and you probably don't know me, but there were so many of us. I have been following your adventures for some time, but the blog on attitude has touched me in a way I can't put into words. As you struggle with your "the glass is half full attitude", I want you to know that you have made such a positive impact on me and my attitude. Three hours after reading it the words are still melting my heart. Thank you for being you- you are and will be in my prayers daily! - Christine (Carlevale) McAllister

Inez Uerz said...

Awesome to see you back here with a post! We'll be thinking of you, battling yet another round. All the best, strength, love and prayers! Stephen and Inez

Dave Grip said...

Dave -

That quote that your son liked is a great reminder for all of us. As you go through this tedious 'ground hog' process, keep your 'glass half full' spirit, and keep your eyes on the prize. You will get through this, you're stronger than most. Hang in there and keep that great sense of humor.

Linda Bruning said...

Hi Dave, the quote in this article certainly reminded me of you and what has inspired me about you since the time we met. It also gave me s good kick in the butt and inspired me to post this quote on Facebook (one of my few postings..,,) because I believe do much in what this quote said. I am so sad that you are fighting this thing instead of running marathons, but you'll tackle it just like every other challenge in your life. And you have so many friends and admirers that are with you cheering you on and praying for you every day. Fondly, Linda.