Imagine having shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, the lower left abdomen swollen and feeling as though it could burst at any second. Add constant shooting pains that radiated throughout the body, mainly felt in the chest. You have the opening scene of my first diverticulitis flare. Was my gut about to rip open or was I having a stroke or an onset of a heart attack? This is what it felt like the night I had almost successfully ripped my large intestine open. Technically speaking ,it was more like 2 nights, as I ended up returning to the emergency room for round 2, two weeks later. The second time had the exact same symptoms, except with more intensity.
Needless to say, my 2 major diverticulitis flares almost ended me, figuratively and literally. If I would have ruptured my intestine, I would have had, A. Emergency surgery B. Emergency surgery followed by wearing a colostomy bag the rest of my life C. A need for a casket.
The comeback from this ordeal was not remotely easy or void of any further pain. However, for the main purpose of this blog entry, that is a story for another day. Needless to say I had a lot of time on my hands while trying to get healthy again. You start to reflect a lot on how you got in your situation. As crazy as it sounds this ordeal was a golden opportunity to understand what is important in life.
Now that the worst of the ordeal is over, I can now look back on it and say in all honesty, I would not change it for the world. Am I a masochist? No, I am not grateful for the pain and setbacks caused from it. I am extremely grateful for the lessons the experience has given me. So with no further need for background, here is what almost ripping my guts out has taught me.
Be Grateful for Every Day You Have
I had no idea what was going to happen after my emergency room visits. Specifically, would I get better or worse. Am I going to be like this the rest of life? The fear of unknown can be polarizing if you allow it to be. As I started to slowly recover, my mindset changed dramatically. Every day is a gift. Treat it as such.
The World Does Not Revolve Around You
With or without you, the world will move on. You have too much value to offer to let that happen.
Be Mindful of What You Say, Text, and Write
Once you say it, text it, and/or write it, it cannot be taken back. This is not a problem if it is positive. If it is in the other direction, it may take months, years to mend what was conveyed. You also need to be prepared that in some instances, it may not be able to be repaired at all. Save yourself a lot of anguish and be very careful in how you communicate. A heated moment can take a lifetime of work to repair.
This is something at times, I can still struggle with. I am still a work in progress. After my accident, I have become much better being mindful of this. I learned mental stress triggers my condition faster than anything. Since my 2 large diverticulitis flares, I've only had 2 more. They were minor but they were completely triggered by mental stress. So the less stress I give myself, the better. This is a situation I have full control over. I control my mouth and my fingers. No one else. By that same token, I am responsible for what they do as well, good or bad.
Reversing the Attitude That Got You There Can Change Your Situation(s)
What is in between your ears is everything. Your attitude does navigate your altitude in life. Here is an example, 2 people are up for a promotion. Both are equally qualified. They have the same level of aptitude. One is happy-go-lucky and efficient. The other is equally as efficient but has a bitter, poor attitude. If you were doing the promoting, who would you choose?
Every situation is not going to be ideal or positive. Being constantly angry and bitter when those situations arise only magnifies those emotions. You will be labeled as having a bad attitude if it continues. If you find yourself in a bad situation due to a bad attitude, most of the time, you will be amazed in how the situation can be changed for the better with a reversal of that attitude. You can read my story in how I did this for myself. The result? Over 100lbs GONE.
Prevention Is Much Cheaper Than Reaction
This is the lesson that created the name, "Sweat Is Free". I distinctly remember looking at my emergency room bills (especially from the 2nd visit) and was simply in amazement of the dramatic costs. Had I not had impeccable insurance, I would have been staring down at a 30k bill without any idea how to how to pay for it all. Furthermore, including the year and half it took to recover physically from it, you can put together a pretty solid 5-6 digit fiscal number of missed production time. The toll on your finances, physical health, and mental capacity are not worth it. Prevention is so much healthier (in every sense of the word).
The Body Is a Magnificent Machine
Going from perforations on my intestines to running long distance races and Tough Mudders. The body is an amazing machine. It is the most efficient machine known to man. When I take time to think about it, I am amazed at its capacity to adapt from the stressors we apply to it. Whether the adaption is a good or bad thing is completely in the control of the owner .
Omit Sources of Negativity
The Debbie Downer, Mr. Doom and Gloom, aka, the pessimist, and the gossip mill. All of these are behavioral types and settings to AVOID. Attitudes are contagious. If you surround yourself by positive people, you in all likelihood are going to be positive. Surround yourself with pessimists full of anger and bitterness, there is high probability you are going to be the same way. If you want to keep your stress levels and subsequent health issues at a low level, avoid this setting.
Gossip is a social cancer, plain and simple. If you know something to be true, take it directly to the proper point(s) of contact. Acting as a contributor to this, either as a listener or speaker, only continues to spread the only offerings it possesses, anxiety, fear, and stress. There is nothing beneficial about it for anyone. Omit it like the disease it is. This, by far was one of the smartest choices I ever made. My health has flourished for it.
Life Is Better When You Help Others Succeed
This correlates with my lesson that the world does not revolve around me. Life is better when you have purpose. The reason I decided to get back into training is I believe I have truly been given a second chance. One in which I do not want to thwart. Everyone has a profession because they need to pay bills and hopefully save enough to enjoy life on their terms. Between Sweat Is Free and the other gig I do, there is a central theme, helping others succeed. For me, this defines my purpose in life. This is why I believe I am here. What I do now are my true passions. I am seeking to utilize them to their fullest to see people healthier and happier.
THIS is the reason and the motivation I have decided to do the Rock n' Roll Marathon Las Vegas in November of this year. If trained properly, the body can be conditioned for the task. I am not a natural runner. It is something I have learned. I am returning to the desert, not solely demonstrate how proficient the body can be when trained, it is about GIVING to others.
This marathon run will be a fundraiser for a charity. The donations will be based on how many miles I run (the reason for a marathon v. the 1/2 marathon). I do not have the charity picked out just yet but I will be making the decision soon. As stated earlier, I am using my second chance to utilize my skill sets to their fullest.
For every person that feels life has passed them by, that there is no hope, that there is no way out of your situation, I dedicate the November run to you. If I can reverse my life that was going into the proverbial sewer, than you can pull yourself out of your situation as well. It all begins with thinking that YOU CAN. If you were to tell me this is a nice sentiment but not realistic, I would have been inclined to believe you 5 years ago. That was the time frame when my guts were almost ripped open. I was thinking on that very topic last November, as I was running down the Las Vegas Strip in my second 1/2 marathon.
"Believe you can and you're halfway there." - Theodore Roosevelt