Home > December 2009, Health > Attitude Is Everything

Attitude Is Everything

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

As many of my readers know, I work in a large Pediatric clinic, and we share space with a Family Practice clinic.

Yesterday, one of my Family Practice co-workers asked me to speak to a 70 year old gentleman who has many health problems, who is “considering” getting a fistula for dialysis.  He’s ruled out getting a transplant, although he tells me his Nephrologist is encouraging him to do so.

I say considering, because he’s very down and discouraged over his overall situation.  He tells me that he had a quadruple bypass 2 years ago, and told me he will no longer shoot his shotgun because he’s afraid his sternum will rip open at the surgical site from 2 years ago (it won’t; they wire it shut, and the bones are already healed).  He has vision problems, and nerve damage to his non-dominant arm from the surgery.  His wife of 52 years was with him, and her eyes were red (I assume from crying).

I explained what a fistula is and why he needs one; a catheter is a poor choice for dialysis and only used as a temporary fix or as a last resort.  Of course, I was upbeat about the process,  as I truly believe that he will feel so much better once he starts dialysis (he didn’t say at what point he is at with his kidney failure). Compared to my other surgeries, fistula surgery was not that big a deal, as it didn’t even require general anesthesia for me; I stopped at McDonalds for lunch on the way home from the hospital.

Granted, dialysis is no walk in the park, but it sure beats the alternative.  During my 9 months on dialysis, I saw a wide spectrum of reactions to dialysis, just as there is a spectrum of how people deal with day to day life. For me, dialysis allowed me to feel SO much better, so it helped me greatly (and the transplant had exponentially even more of an effect).

I’ve had my share of medical “speed bumps”, but as you know, I’ve used my attitude and determination to overcome them. I have pain every day from neuropathy (hereditary), but don’t even think about, and rarely take pain meds (unless it gets bad)

But I could tell he’s a long way off from “believing”.   I do think that our talk did help his wife somewhat, and told both of them not to hesitate to contact me if they had any questions or needed to talk.
So for those of you who tend to have a bleak outlook, just remind yourself,  as I always do:  there is always someone worse off than yourself.  If I were this gentleman, I would be thinking of the people who go through life paralyzed, who have terminal cancer, who have mental illness that makes them outcasts in society through no fault of their own…

The key to dealing with chronic illness, enjoyment of day to day living, and survival is to be positive.  It’s an attitude that’s sometimes difficult to maintain at times, but one worth striving for.

Note: I met this gentleman not in the course of work, (I was never involved in his care, as I work in Pediatrics) and am not disclosing his name, so I feel comfortable that I am not breaching confidentiality, and only know the details above based on what he and his wife told me. I wish them both well.

  1. pstarr999
    December 20, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Great post! I need to remember that there are a lot of people out there who are worse off than I am.

  2. January 5, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Attitude is everything.
    It’s based on how one perceives one’s situation.
    Sometimes, “guided visualizations” can induce a “virtual” positive experience that can produce an “aha!” moment which can change one’s attitude!

    Peace and Blessings!

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