Friday Firesmith – High Attitude

“You’re going to run out of options at that point,” the Surgeon told me. The various scenarios that led to happiness and good health were there, but there was a darker side to the conversation. There were things happening to me, that if they kept happening to me, there was not going to be anything left to prevent things from getting worse. Getting worse meant the worst. I would die. This could kill me. It was an odd conversation to have five hours after a doctor’s appointment that was supposed to end in a conversation about hernias.

Clearly, I lived. Right after I came to from surgery, I woke up to the idea that I had dodged a bullet, or at least had a small group of people push me out of the way of the bullet. I was hooked up to an IV tree, had a catheter in the end of my penis, and had a tube running down from my nose into my stomach. There was a scar the size of a good sized snake running from my groin to my upper abdomen. I could not have been happier.

From where I sat, or rather lay, things were incredible good, and a hell of a lot better than they had been the previous day. There is no way I can explain the joy of a surgeon coming in and telling me that the operation was 100% perfect. Textbook perfect. Complete success. No problems or issues at all.

It was a pain in the ass to deal with the bevy of nurses coming in and out of my room at odd times of the morning, noon, and night, but I decided to greet each and every one of those people cheerfully, and I did. Why wouldn’t I? At what point was the inconvenience of lack of sleep, the blood taking, the blood pressure, or even the nurse who woke me up checking to see if the box of gloves was full or empty, weighed against the fact that I came into the hospital not knowing if I would leave alive or not?

Standing up was painful. But I walked every day, or close to it, just to prove I could. I wanted the nurses to know I was trying. I wanted to show the world, and myself, I was going to try to get better. Yes, they were getting paid to be there, and I was paying to be there, but at some point they have to know you’re doing your part in the process.

But here’s the thing, and there’s no getting around it: Why not?

Why not go into the hospital with the plan of having the best attitude you can have? Yeah, you’ve been cut, you’re in pain, and you can’t take a shower, but why not be happy? Why not feel joy in being alive? Why not go into the fight in a state of total bliss that you’re still alive and still capable of feeling any damn thing at all?

Misery, even under those conditions, of no sleep, of endless blood taking, of countless visits by nurses night and day, misery is still your choice. It takes a lot of effort to get past that, but what else are you going to do? Why take people down to your level when you can take them up to your level? It’s your decision.

I’m glad to be alive today. I’m happy I survived. I had more than one nurse tell me I had the best attitude of anyone they had ever met, and maybe they tell everyone that, but I’m here to tell you this: being here to tell you this is an incredible thing.
Never forget it.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

17 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – High Attitude”

  1. It is so good to hear that you’re doing better – on the way to being well. During my few stays in the hospital I have tried to be a superior patient. Smiling and a bright “Good morning!” when I could, eye contact and an enthusiastic thumbs-up when I couldn’t. Letter to the Hospital CEO for superior service: employee, chaplain, volunteer, housekeeping, etc. My small chance to brighten the world.

  2. When I got divorced I decided not to be an ass during the transition. After the day of the divorce and the trip to the courthouse to make it official, the lawyer invited me to lunch. Mid way through he said “I’ve been doing divorces for 30+ years and you are the only client I’ve ever had that never said one bad thing about your wife. I am so impressed.”
    Maybe you and I are more alike than we care to admit. Here’s to a very healthy New Year !

    • M16 Guy, if the only common ground we can find is civility in the world no stronger foundation could be made. Politics are temporary, how we treat people lasts forever.

  3. I’m glad you made it. You must have been a joy for your nursing staff.It makes it easier for them I’m sure when a patient has a great demeanor.
    As a patient, I’m sarcastic, I don’t mean to be. I think it just comes out that way. Not everyone gets that it’s a defense mechanism that happens when I’m in pain. I did have two wonderful nurses who understood it and knew how to handle it. Both prior military, both guys. They were probably the best nurses I’ve ever had take care of me. One of them left me a handful of rubber bands one night, I didn’t understand it at first, the next time he came into my room he was loaded and shooting at me. Lol. It made the time go by, and made the pain seem to be not quite as bad.

    • I have really good friends who were really bad patients, including a man whose doctor more or less told him to find a new doctor. He was determined not to listen to anything anyone told him, and he was going to show them all he could do it his own way. I was a pallbearer at this funeral. I really hope that I am never that way.

  4. I’m equally amazed at how much abuse a human body can survive and how little it can take to kill it. Medical pros can tell you the difference between living and dying is often attitude. In many cases the patient decides if they live or die. My mother used to talk about patients tired of struggling who would just give up and die for no explainable medical reason.

    Your attitude is your strongest medicine, you’ll be around awhile.

  5. On behalf of all the people who have had to deal with a “bad” patient in the hospital, thank you for being a good boy. Do people really think that there’s some badge of honor given to the biggest A**hole in the hospital?

  6. Attitude is everything, so many wise quotes on the subject from a helluva lot of wise people. We all as humans have many ups and downs in life, and times when we wonder ‘why me?’. I worked in hospitals most of my working life, in an admin role, sometimes as a ward clerk and ER clerk. I’ve seen Dr’s cry when they lose a patient, and nurses cry after a long shift with difficult patients.
    I had a complete shoulder replacement back in April last year, and even with strong pain killers, woke up in bed in the wee small hours, a sling holding my operated on joint tight to my chest, I did not have the energy to turn or wriggle to get comfortable, and pain spread down my spine. I had the buzzer in reach, but remembered that during the night with only about 2 nurses on duty, they were busy attending other patients, or catching up on paper work. I did some deep breathing and meditation thoughts, and calmed down. I thought of my nine year old grandson who had undergone brain surgery a couple of months beforehand, he had told me to be brave…Well, I thought of him lying propped up on pillows the day after his surgery, and a smile on his face because he didn’t have to eat his soup, but had enjoyed some icecream and a chocolate muffin. That gave me courage to put a smile on my dial when the nurse came into check on me.
    Glad you are doing well Mike, onwards and upwards ye shall go.

    • SandG, children are often the best people to deal with because they haven’t been taught despair yet. I had no reason to be down; I was alive. That seemed pretty significant at the time. I was really happy to be there, not at the hospital per se, but in general, yes.

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