How? It seems as if every year the same thing happens. We work, live, survive and thrive and then SO much time has passed. Thankfully despite a very difficult year full of highs and lows I find myself feeling very grateful about where we are as of 10/4/2017. I believe that this is part of how I am able to grind through awful and near debilitating pain on a regular basis: my philosophy regarding how the universe will balance itself out if you allow it. Whether by practice, experience, genetics or some combination I find that I don’t get either too high or too low.
This approach helps in that when things get really bad I don’t allow myself to ask “why me?” questions or get so bummed out that I go catatonic. A few months ago a dear aunt was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. Though I experience death and dying in my medical practice often due to seeing predominantly elderly patients I have yet to experience this type of loss in my personal life (not counting dogs but that is another story). Then this entire year my neck arthritis, bone spurs and headaches have made it necessary to further reduce my work hours and the number of patients I can see. I just completed a series of 4 insurance mandated painful test injections in the neck to determine if I should proceed with a nerve burning procedure. This appears to be happening next month so hope is alive.
Where this approach may be harmful is that I know that I am missing out on some feelings at the extremes that may actually be beneficial. I am not a crier so I don’t often release pent up feelings or emotions with tears. I have tended to value this stoicism but it can’t be the only way to handle very low lows. Also I realized after Ironman Arizona 140.6 in late 2015 that I also don’t experience a lot of joy and jubilation. As is the case with many of my accomplishments in work life and athletics I have lost the Joy and satisfaction that I should be feeling from what I am still able to do.
This May I went with my wife and friends for the first time to Utah and Zion for a Ragnar trail race. The experience was amazing except that the travel was rough and I ended up dislocating my pinkie and it is crooked forever plus I have to relocate it periodically quite painfully. I then was able to compete in Escape from Alcatraz in June which is a tough race to even get in to. Last minute they cancelled the swim due to dangerous currents so I did not experience the actual race the way it is designed plus the course is very hilly (San Francisco) and thus, of course, my body took forever to recover.
Gratitude for me comes from knowing that things could always be either better or worse in all areas of life. I find myself at this time thankful for it being a Wednesday in October where I was able to wake up, work a little, exercise a little, come home early to play with my dogs and then lie down to rest my neck and back so I can have a chance to do it all again tomorrow in pain but alive. Carry on.