In this podcast Rebecca tells of how it came about that she woke up in the hospital never to see again. The interview continues with her rehabilitation and learning to live blind.
When you are asked, вЂњdo you matter?вЂќ What do you say? I mean what you really think in your heart. For most of us especially after a disability we might think we donвЂ™t matter. That is the way much of society treats us. We are redundant. No one wants to work with us and help us contribute to the group.
Those who are too slow soon get left behind. Not just on the metaphoric journey thru life, but also in school and elsewhere. In school we followed the successes of the stars. They were our heroes, the ones who got to do the special things. We read about them in the school news. Everyone knew who they were.
As adults we hear about those people with exceptional abilities. We elect the best politician into office. We promote the best candidate for the job. Then we fire the ones who struggle to keep up. They are soon gone and forgotten from the team.
When you find you are the one who got cut out what do you do?
You have just been told you donвЂ™t matter. Do you take that on as your new identity?
It is so easy to think we donвЂ™t matter anymore and get depressed. Depression serves only to separate you further from the pack. Until you realize that you need to find a new way of thinking about yourself and take charge you will always wonder if you will ever find yourself in a pack again.
In order to matter, you need to understand how you fit in, so ask yourself:
- How have you contributed to the lives of your family members?
- How have you contributed to your friends?
- How have you contributed at work?
- How have you contributed to your community?
- What have you created and given to the world?
Many of us will notice that we have fallen short of what we wished. Now how can we activate our drive to matter to the world?
First, give of your best in all that you do. Strive to do your best and when you fall short let yourself learn from the experience.
Last evening I was with some friends and one woman suddenly started putting down what I was saying. I persisted in trying to make my point. Later I realized that she had a story she needed to share. While I donвЂ™t think that would have been the best place to share her story, I do not know for sure. I think we could have addressed it. The next time I get an opportunity, I will try to hear others stories when they interrupt me.
Next, seek out opportunities to contribute. Where might your gifts and abilities benefit others? This need not be in formal volunteer settings. You can contribute by holding open a door and smiling at the people you meet on the street. Yes, even such a simple act as smiling at strangers matters. Does seeing happy people make you feel better?
There are guidelines you can use to evaluate your experiences so you can recognize those opportunities which confirm that you matter.
- What are your abilities?
- How do they benefit others?
- How do you see the benefit?
- What new opportunities are coming your way? Yes, the world is always offering you things. You need to recognize and accept what is offered.
Third, how can you help others to live better? This may be just calling someone who is suffering and showing them you care. When you were sick and others contacted you did that make your day? You can make someone elseвЂ™s day and say Hi.
What have you contributed that mattered to the world?
What new opportunities do you notice coming your way to be someone who matters?
What steps will you take to become someone who matters?
Remember when you matter you feel better.
As all Ways, Seek Joy,
PS, this is the thirteenth in the blog series on making a Disability your lifeвЂ™s biggest gift. They are inspired by Brendon BurchardвЂ™s book, The Charge
A disability frees you to become more creative. In fact, it demands creativity, because you can no longer do things the way you did before. This is the key to thriving with a disability.
How do you find the creativity to thrive with your disability?
Creativity is unique to us all. It is an expression of who you really are. ThatвЂ™s right when you create something it comes from all that has made you. No one else has had your experiences and thus lives in your body. Once a disability has entered your life, you no longer fit the pattern of anyone else. Your parents and others could not have envisioned who you now are. In fact, they tried their best to change you into someone else.
Let us first decide how creative you are. Take this test. On a scale of 1 to 10 rate the following statements:
- When I look around my home I see myself everywhere.
- When I look around my work space I see my unique self.
- My most intimate relationships reflect who I am.
- My friendships are an expression of who I am.
- My leisure activities show who I am.
- My contributions to the world express who I am.
If your grand total is less than 45 your creative expression has been stifled. Many of us tried to fit into the molds others created for us. Now that a disability has taken over your life, you probably can see this expressed everywhere you looked in this exercise.
Now, as you examine these six areas, where can you express yourself better? This can become the source of your new life plan for sharing who you are with the world.
The world deserves you! This is correct! When we think of how humanity has progressed we realize that this is the result of creativity. Creativity results from self-expression.
As you look around you, what things do you notice that you like? Are they the same as everything else? No, they would not stand out and catch your attention if they were all the same.
Someone had to be willing to be different. Where did they find the capacity to be different if not from within themselves?
We marvel at the passion of paintings by Vincent van Go. He had the passion because he was plagued by depression. Yes, it was the potentially disabling illness that gave him the power to express so much in his works. Yes, the depression finally led him to cut off his ear and kill himself, but what vibrancy and creativity it unleashed in the process.
True, living often means holding the potentially disabling parts of ourselves at bay so we can function. If I let myself go around without trying to see, my typing would really be bad. While my screen reader helps me find where I am on the page, using my eyes makes it so much faster and easier.
To further unleash your creativity you need to associate with other creative people. I am in several groups of coaches. We share the ways we have found to coach others.
I also associate with those who are blind or disabled in other ways. Along with them I am inspired to set my limitations aside and do things. This is where the podcast, вЂњDisability FreedomвЂќ gets its material. (You can find out more about that on www.www.bsmk-med.com/podcast).
Another way to unleash your creativity is to create and share with others. That is right. You did not learn to ride a bike alone. Initially your parents helped you, but later you learned from other kids. You would show them what you could do and then they would share what they had learned with you. It was in this process of trying out new things and sharing the results that you mastered the bike.
Now you need to master a life with a disability in it. That means you need to try new things and learn from others with similar disabilities.
So how will you unleash your creativity?
What will you do at home and at work to show your creative self?
How will you find more creativity in the world?
What are you going to create and share with the world?
As All Ways, Seek Joy,
This is the twelfth in the series of blogs based on Brendon BurhcardвЂ™s book, The Charge
- Over the last few months I have been unleashing my creativity. This week I launched the podcast, вЂњDisability Freedom.вЂќ This has been both challenging and exciting as it forced me to express my creativity and solve many problems.
I now continue to unleash my creativity by creating a program to teach the ideas of this blog series to others. You can find out more about that at www.www.bsmk-med.com
The podcast where we explore how a Disability has freed others to live the lives they want, and finding the secrets others found to thrive with a Disability. Each Week we meet someone who has faced a disability and found a way to thrive by facing that disability. No topic is off limits.
You canвЂ™t always be the person you want to be. When a disability makes you less capable than you were, you often feel like a fraud. You do things but know you arenвЂ™t doing them as well as youвЂ™re used to. You want to correct that but donвЂ™t always know how. You can change that by becoming вЂњcongruentвЂќ with yourself.
Congruence is a need we have that helps us thrive. It is that feeling of being who we want to be. No, not acting that way, but really behaving as that person we want to be.
Who do you want to be?
A couple of weeks ago I talked about creating a dream of who you want to be. Now we need to live out that dream. We need to act congruently with that dream. If you have forgotten how to create that dream go back and do it now.
Now letвЂ™s put some emotion into it. What would it feel like to be who you want to be?
- Take a few minutes and write down all the words that come to you about who you want to be.
- Now pick out three words that best describe who you want to be.
- Try them on for size. Walk around the room a couple of times thinking about being that person.
- Did it feel good and right? If not find new words.
Just feeling who you want to be is not enough. You need to act like that person. LetвЂ™s become the persons we want to be.
- Take a few minutes and write down all the words that come to you about how the person you want to be would act.
- Now pick out three words that best describe how you want to act.
Thinking about whom you want to be and how you would act is not enough. How would you feel? If you want to seem confident yet feel a fraud, how do you think you would come across to others? Would you really want to feel like a fraud? When you were walking around the room as the person you want to be how did you feel? Put aside that feeling of confidence and look at the other feelings you had.
You now need to find ways to be true to your new self. When you say you will be true do something to follow thru with your intention. That way others will not come to think of you as a fraud.
Becoming the person you want to be is work. The person you were before disability did not come about overnight. In creating that person you had a lot of help. The adults in your life were role models. You will need to find new role models. The Disability Freedom Podcasts will offer you some recommendations of people you might want as your new role models.
Ways to become the person you want to be.
- Write down the three words that describe who you want to be.
- Write down the three words of how you want to come across to others.
- Review these six word several times a day.
- Think of people whoВ resmble the person you want to be. Are there biographies of them?
- Think of people with your disability. How do they live like the person you want to be? Check out biographies of such people.
- Start a journal and write in it each evening.
- How well you lived out these six words
- How you might have lived out these six words better during the day
- Think about how you will live them out tomorrow.
- How were you emotionally today? Did you live out the person you want to be?
- What might have prevented you from feeling like the person you want to be?
- What are five things you will do in the next sixty days to live out the вЂњnewвЂќ you.
- If you havenвЂ™t posted a picture of your dream, do it now.
Congratulations! You are beginning to thrive. Yes, thriving is not easy, but it is fun. Enjoy it!
As All Ways, Seek Joy,
Also, you are welcome to share this series.
When a disability enters your life you will lose control. There will be things you are no longer able to do. That is what a disability is. However control is essential for thriving in life.
Why reestablish control in your life after a Disability?
Control is one of the drives that are essential for one to thrive in life. Brendon Burchard in his book, The Charge, calls this being вЂњCharged.вЂќ He lists 10 drives that are essential. This is the first blog about these drives.
We have sought to control our lives since infancy. When we learned to say вЂњNoвЂќ we used it constantly. It drove our parents crazy, but gave us control. We could stop what was going on. As soon as our parents realized how we would respond they asked questions so our response would be aligned with their wishes. Then they, too, had control again.
As we grew we sought to control more of our lives. This lead too many confrontationвЂ™s with our parents. We would refuse to go to bed even though we were just about to fall asleep where we were.
When we lose control we try to control what we can. When I rotated through Pediatrics the children suffering from cancer would choose who would draw their blood and do other things to them. This was one way they could control part of their lives. They would still feel the pain of a needle, but they would have someone of their choosing using the needle.
As my eyesight failed, I knew I would have to stop driving. For years I would fail the eye test and get my eye doctor to fill in the form. I realized that this would only work for a while. I decided that I did not want to hurt someone else due to my poor eyesight. Thus, after a very close call, I prayed on the issue. The answer came almost immediately with another near miss.
By choosing to stop driving I still maintained some control. I found resources that I did not know existed. A neighbor offered me rides to a civic group we were in. Others also offer me rides.
How to assess your level of control?
You can ask yourself three questions to assess your level of control (rate them on a scale of 1 to 10):
- How in control of your life do you feel?
- How in control of your emotions are you?
- How in control of the immediate world around you are you?
True, control is never absolutely all or nothing. There are times when no one can see – the lights went out. Even in the dark we can visualize what we feel and hear.
Since control is relative we need to establish references. But these references can either serve to trap us or let us thrive. If we choose references that trap us, we will be limited by them. When we choose references that let us thrive, they give us energy.
I could choose to define my eye sight as not as good as an athlete, or as it used to be. Or, I could say it is adequate to get around. And I can find the tools I need to supplement my poor eye sight. The latter lets me feel in control.
It is this feeling of being in control that is important. That is why the second question. Choose a reference that will let you score a 10. DonвЂ™t choose to compare your mobility to jelly fish.
Controlling the immediate world is what the kids on the pediatric ward were doing. By making choices and having them honored they were able to undergo things that could have left them in a tantrum and tears.
So, how do you get control of your life after a disability?
- Look at your attitude: as the old phrase goes, вЂњShit happens.вЂќ What is shit anyway? Is it the bodies waste or fertilizer?
- Do something new! As children we were always trying new things. Doing new and different things is вЂњthe spice of life.вЂќ Always doing the same thing is boring. So change your routine; eat something different, use a different route to get to the store, meet someone new.
- Control what you can. It might be simple as choosing who does the procedure, but find a way to control.
- List the things you can do.
- List the things you just did.
- Schedule some simple tasks before the hard ones.
- Challenge yourself to come up with new and novel ways to do things.
- Add to this list.
As all Ways, Seek Joy,
PS, when you are in control you are ABLE!
вЂњDah! You mean the chance that you wonвЂ™t be able to be the person you thought you were shouldnвЂ™t depress you?вЂќ say you.
Medical research now shows us why Depression results from the process of becoming disabled. Not only do most people get depressed at the thought of becoming disabled, but actually becoming disabled causes depression to occur.
The chemical marker of depression is low Serotonin levels in the nervous system. This occurs by several mechanisms related to the causes of disability.
вЂњHow can such different illnesses such as Arthritis, cancer and Schizophrenia all lead to low Serotonin levels?вЂќ ask you.
Stress and fear cause the body to change blood flow in the brain. Blood flows away from the frontal cortex and to the Amygdala. This is the classic fear response. The body releases adrenalin into the blood stream. Adrenalin has effects not only in the brain but throughout the body. Blood flows to the muscles, preparing us to fight or flee.
Adrenalin also reduces blood flow to the gut and other body parts not needed to fight or flee. The gut is one such organ. For short periods this causes no problems. However, over time the gut canвЂ™t heal from the normal traumas of digestion. It starts to leak toxins and other substances into the body. Our bodyвЂ™s immune system sees these toxins and responds. The immune system revs up to fight them. It releases many substances into the blood stream. These are many of the same substances our bodies produce in arthritis and related conditions.
These inflammatory substances are good in that they allow our bodies to rid themselves of the foreign materials. However, they have other effects as well.
Our brains are affected by these inflammatory substances. When we have the flu or a cold we donвЂ™t think as well. That is the result of these inflammatory substances working on our brains. Colds and flu are short-lived and our brains soon return to normal.
When the inflammatory process keeps going on for weeks, our brains donвЂ™t have the chance to recover. The metabolism of the brain gets behind.
Our brains make the Serotonin (aka, 5-OH Tryptophan). When inflammation persists for a long time, very little Serotonin gets made.
As nerve cells communicate with each other Serotonin gets destroyed. If more Serotonin is not being made then we get depressed.
So, what can we do to either prevent or recover from the depression caused by our Disability? I will address that in next weekвЂ™s blog.
So that you donвЂ™t miss that blog, sign up for my newsletter by putting your name and email in the form to the right.
Also, share this with anyone you know who might be depressed for whatever reason. They will appreciate knowing that depression is natural and there are things they can do about it.
As All Ways, Seek Joy,
Coach Dr. Dave
PS. By signing up for the newsletter you will get the announcement when my podcast, вЂњRecipes for Lemonade: thriving thru DisabilityвЂќ goes live.
This question comes up often in medical practice today. Medicine as I was taught to practice was based on treatments tested by the scientific method. The Scientific Method consists of a set of ways to test a therapy and determine its effectiveness. It uses statistical methods to measure and determine the outcomes. This method continues to be refined and improved.
Scientific Medicine fails to address the real questions of healthcare.
What do we want health career to do? This gets to some fundamental questions of life and how we live it. Much of scientific Medicine uses death as the measured outcome. Since all of us will die alternatives to immortality suffice. How long did one group live v. the other often becomes the outcome measured.
As my practice drifted away from straight Internal Medicine into Geriatrics, the question of death became less important. We talked of Quality of Life and not Quantity. Quality of life is harder to measure and thus is often ignored in Mainstream Medical research.
In the social sciences Quality is the only outcome they can measure. Thus methods have been developed to do that. I am sure you have taken surveys that asked questions like how much you liked or disliked a statement or situation. Yet mainstream medicine refuses to incorporate such questions into their studies.
You never see patientвЂ™s asked to compete Quality of Life questionnaires at various points in in study. We do count the number of patients who donвЂ™t complete the study or therapy. This вЂњIntention to TreatвЂќ requirement increases the rigor of the study, but fails to answer the quality of life issue.
Yet many therapies are intolerable.
One of my aunts died of breast Cancer. For a long time she was a вЂњBreast cancer SurvivorвЂќ. She developed the cancer in the 1950вЂ™s. In those days the therapy was really toxic. She recovered and lived for decades. But the therapy had other tolls.
Her young daughter was traumatized by the experience. When she herself was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, she sought alternative therapy. The Cancer did not respond to those therapies. Was it effective?
If longevity is what we seek, then No. if avoidance of the suffering she saw her mother goes thru, probably. Death from Cancer is not pleasant, either. My cousin left a ten your old child behind along with her] husband.
When considering a therapy what should we ask?вЂќ
Doctors are required to list the accepted therapies along with their risks and benefits. Most lack training in the вЂњalternativeвЂќ medicines. They offer only alternatives among mainstream therapies.
How can you choose?
First, what do you really want? Few of us pause to consider this. Our busy lives prevent the time to reflect upon this. Yet what has more importance?
Second, for whom do we decide? In the case of my Aunt and her daughter it went well beyond the вЂњpatientвЂќ herself.
Third, who would we include in the process? My parents included the whole family in the process. This made it easier for me and my siblings to be with them in their final days. We have been able to share our grief and continue our lives.
Fourth, with whom should we share our decisions? Those who will be affected by the decision need to know. That list includes family, friends and health care providers. Health care providers get involved when you die. Their default mode of care is to вЂњpreserve life at all costsвЂќ. Thus their actions can be traumatic if not dramatic. Ways to prevent unwanted interventions exist.
Thus Alternative Medicines are not part of the Science of Medicine. They are part of the Art of Medicine. That is what mainstream medicine lacks by staying scientific.
What are your thoughts about вЂњAlternative MedicineвЂќ?
As All Ways, Seek Joy,
Coach Dr. Dave
Host of the upcoming webinar on вЂњthe life Transition of a disabilityвЂќ
In a Christian Science Monitor blog James Norton referred to research done at Michigan State University. It suggests that nice guys make us all winners. It even suggests that being nice is a winning strategy even if you donвЂ™t finish. What has been your experience?
We are all aware of the old adage nice guyвЂ™s finish last however if we think about it for a minute being nice is probably a better strategy than trying to win at all costs. Only one can come in first. We all know there are risks in running the race. We might need help along the way. Who is apt to get the help the nice guy or the greedy guy?
I recently noticed this on a city bus. As I got on with my white cane a woman said, вЂњTo your rightвЂќ.
A little girl said, вЂњRight hereвЂќ, tapping the seat next to her. As I sat down next to her I noticed how contented she was. Her mother completed paying their fair and joins her on the seat. This preschooler seems very happy and contented. Her mother did not need to entertainer. The girl had ribbons and curls in her hair. Yet, her shoes lacked laces.
This nice little girl lives in a nice world. By some standards the world was nice to her, but obviously there were material things she lacked. Was she a winner or a loser?
Looking at the girl I think she felt like a winner. I see many other children her age that always need attention. They whine, and keep moving around on the seats and require the attention of an adult. This little girl seemed very contented in her own little world. In our materialistic and competitive world I doubt will ever consider her to really be in the race. However, I doubt she will ever feel deprived for long.
In college I played in the band. To promote the University we would take a bus tour during spring break. We would sleep in the homes of high school students where we were performing. I remember one warm and friendly home in particular. They seem to be one of the poorer homes but one that I felt more comfortable with than most. I was raised in an upper middle class suburban family. Yet this family obviously didnвЂ™t have the education or opportunities that I had enjoyed. They enjoyed great love. This was something my parents also strived for. Yet, my parents with the demands of their positions as community leaders were often distracted.
The researchers and Michigan State University were considering evolutionary biology. They had concluded that niceness in the forms of cooperation and forgiveness helped individuals and communities survive. Personal greed and self-interest leaves the individual alone and vulnerable to those groups that can organize themselves.
We all remember the childhood game of King of the Hill. Everyone strives to be the king and keep everybody else off the hill. Soon two or more attack at the same time, this overwhelms the king. If the new Kings cooperate they are much less vulnerable to the next round of attack. If however it was just coincidence then they start fighting among themselves, and the cycle continues.
So would you rather be the king or a nice guy?
How can you be nice?
As All Ways, Seek Joy,
Coach Dr. Dave
Author of the forthcoming book, вЂњrecipes for lemonade (Thriving through disability): Dr. DaveвЂ™s personal recipeвЂќ