Problem or Inconvenience?

I have a problem.

I just checked out of the hospital after 4 days of IV antibiotics, blood draws and I even got to experience, first hand, what it feels like to learn about an allergy to pain killers (I never knew the tip of your nose could itch and that your tongue is rather uncomfortable in your mouth when it feels like an over sized bean bag- and during an escapade like that, blood-pressure can hit 195/135).

I have a problem.

On Sunday afternoon I had some horrible cramping in my side, followed by a fever, followed by an attempt at a good night’s sleep, followed by my attempt at being a corporate martyr (going to work sick to show everyone how really important I feel my work is), followed by the realization that I’d better go to a doctor because something wasn’t right.

I have a problem.

My check in at Oakwood hospital wasn’t too painful for 10am on a Monday morning, so as I wandered up, told them my side hurt and that I’d run a fever, they told me to sit down and I’d get “checked out”.  About 20 minutes later I was admitted into emergency and 2 hours later (throw in a CT, multiple abdominal X-rays and my first litre of saline) I was told that I have a “problem”.  Sparing my readership any more detail, the short story…my digestive system has some minor flaws and one of those minor flaws got infected and as the hospital staff said to me earlier in the day…

I have a problem.

The ER team admitted me for more tests, set up visits with a GI specialist and my primary care doctor and I got the joy of experiencing “hospital life” for a few days.  Needless to say, I always get a bit edgy in or even around hospitals (they smell funny) and they are filled with routine sickness and life altering illness, so if you are anything like me and enjoy the study of human behaviour, this place has one positive; it totally destroys airports from the people watching angle.

I have a problem.

As you all know, I’ve spent the last few years paying off debt, working a stressful career, managing kid’s activities and trying my best at being a husband.  Most recently, I’ve been wavering on my commitment to run every day and my diet hasn’t been stellar, so on Tuesday night, as the doctors gave me my bed time pep-talk…”Once upon a time there was a dude who needs to eat more fruits and less processed foods”, which concluded with a few final points related to the importance of a healthy diet and the need for 8 hours of sleep every night, I politely thanked them for the time and then I sarcastically laughed, under my breath, because “they” just don’t know how many “problems” I have, do they?  You know…I have three busy kids, work, parents, in-laws, a house and all of the problems that come with a hectic life, so add this stomach issue to the list and I’ll do my best to eat more fruits and veggies doc, but come on…

I have a problem.

Because my pain and fever hung around until late Tuesday I hadn’t been able to do much more than sleep.  I’m reading Ayn Rand’s, Atlas Shrugged, and if you don’t know the book, it is 1200+ pages, printed in 4 font and filled with really deep sociological, psychological and philosophical ideas, so you have to really focus in on the story line and what you’re reading.  I tried to read Tuesday night, but after my Doctor’s pep talk/bed time story, I could only squeeze in a few pages before my eyes starting to fog over and I tried to sleep, but wasn’t sleeping well with tubes jammed in my arms, so I took the more natural option, I listened to Oakwood hospital’s evening soundtrack.  Track 1-Gagging sounds, Track 2-the splash of vomiting, Track 3 (my personal favorite) – crying (patients and visitors accompanied by subtle moaning) and the final track; Track 4- routine staff visits for blood pressure readings, needle sticks, IV bag changes and bathroom cleanings.

 I have a problem.

It was late, I wasn’t sleeping and I over-heard my roommate talking to someone on the phone.  After he hung up  I thought I’d be polite and introduce myself, which I did and soon after the introductions, the curtain dividing our hospital beds peeled back to reveal an old man with a charismatic smile and I received his personal trade mark greeting…”how ya doin’ buddy”?  Our dialogue continued for the next two days and I learned more about his battle against cancer and I started to learn what a true “problem” is (my diverticulitis isn’t all that bad).  My roommate started his battle two and a half years ago (lung cancer).  After tackling that “problem” he had to battle brain cancer and his most recent battle is with a tumor that has conveniently lodged itself between his shoulder blades and is connected to his spine (which has severed his ability to walk).  He received pain meds every 2 hours, had 2am MRI visits and had to have a team of nurses regularly change his bed pans for him, but ironically, he seemed accepting of his situation.  All the while, this old man, who I pegged between 75 & 80 years old, shared with me that he was a 57 year old father and husband from Monroe and EVERY time someone walked into the room, his same smile and conversational ice breaker was released…”how ya doin’ buddy”?

I DON’T have a problem.

My point here is simple.  There is a drastic difference between problems and inconveniences.  I watched lots of people this week with real problems and I witness, every day, more and more people experiencing inconveniences (kid’s activities, work to do, birthday parties to attend, damage to a house, a flat tire) and thinking they are problems.  I am guilty of confusing the two, but when I reflect back, my medical inconvenience is something I can control, my stay at the hospital was filled with visits from my family and I have people assisting with my work load, so I can rest and get some health back into my life.  Each night my wife and children smiled at me and gave me hugs and kisses to say good bye, so I could get back into my room and get some sleep.  My roommate has been in a hospital for 2.5 months and he didn’t once talk about any “problems”.  As I returned to my room each night from a walk around the halls of the hospital and my family had gone home, I was greeted by a man who delivered another smile, one last, “how ya doin’” and then the curtains were drawn until the next morning.

I have an inconvenience.

If you are experiencing some challenges in life and they feel like problems, please re-assess them and if they are inconveniences, know they are going to pass and be thankful that they aren’t the true problems we might make them out to be.  For those of you with genuine “problems”, like my new friend from the hospital room, my thoughts and prayers go out to you and I will always appreciate another opportunity to learn from the curve balls life will throw at us.

And yes…I promise to eat more fruits and veggies, I’ll continue my running and I will stay focused on my health, so my current “inconvenience” doesn’t become a bigger problem.

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3 thoughts on “Problem or Inconvenience?

  1. I know your pain because i to had the same inconvenience. Besides fruits and vegetables, oat bran or steel cut oats and LOTS OF WATER, daily! Remember whole grain is your friend. Knocking on wood havent had “problems” in year.

  2. T – I swear you and I could be the same person, always in the hamster wheel of life. Keeping all the balls in the air like a master. Set aside “me” time, in try once in awhile. Glad u are home ! See u Sunday!

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