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Looking Forward When You Fall Back

Most of the friends that I have talked with about my Osteomyelitis have been very supportive, but they still don’t fully ‘get it.’ So far, I’ve had two surgeries in the past two months (both emergencies) to stop the spread of the infection in my bones. The first surgery led to the amputation of my pinky toe on my left foot and the second surgery led to an additional inch of bone and flesh being chopped off. If I don’t get my disease under control, the next surgery could be my leg, below the knee. 

I have spent half of 2017 in the hospital on three separate occasions. The other half of 2017, when I wasn’t in a hospital, I was under home health care and in and out of the wound care clinic several times a week because of my open wound the size of a kosher dill pickle. Oh yeah, I also have a PICC line inserted in my left arm. I have had my #PICCparty every night for the past three weeks, with at least eight more weeks to go. The doctors (my team of eight) aren’t entirely sure if my most recent surgery will be my last. They aren’t exactly sure what kind of bacteria is in my foot. Honestly, I have a whole lot to be scared about, but, here’s the truth— I’m doing great, and my friends just don’t ‘get it’. 

I have a job with a huge company doing what I love— helping people. I’m a 6’4, 330lbs Teddy Bear. When I’m not at work, I’m a daddy to my four kids and a husband to my amazing wife. Somehow, I also remain an active volunteer firefighter within my county. I’m the guy you want running into your house if it’s on fire or cutting a car open to rescue you if you’re in a crash because I genuinely care about you.
I’ve done so much good in my life. So, how come at thirty-three years of age, I’m being ‘punished’ with these crazy health problems? These aren’t just scrapes and bruises. This is serious stuff here— Amputations, diseases, hospitalizations and the unknown! It’s easy to look back on these things and fall into a pit of depression, especially because of that last one, ‘the unknown.’
I was sitting in my hospital bed last month and had my ‘ah-ha!’ moment. It wasn’t as glorious as I would have hoped, but it was a VERY real conversation that I had with myself when nobody was around. I had two paths to choose from: A) I could fall into a deep depression unlike any other depression I’ve ever experienced or, B) I will take control of my life instead of letting my life take control of me. 
I chose B.
Yes, there’s a lot of ‘unknown’ in my life right now. I refuse to be defined by what isn’t happening to me and choose to live right now. I focus on taking steps forward and know that if I do fall, to fall forward in a direction that I can see rather revert back to a state of negativity. I won’t lie, some days I wake up and just don’t want to move from my bed. Instead, I get up, take a deep breath, and smell the gift of life that I was granted for one more day. I make the juice worth the squeeze. All too often, we become slaves to repetition. From now on, the only thing I hope to repeat is waking up every morning. If we all lived today, we would make tomorrow a much better place. Being positive in the face of negativity is the strength this world needs to see in order to change. 
Your success is defined by your state of contentment. I like to listen to high-energy music first thing in the morning, nothing negative. I make it a point to make at least three people smile every day, whether I’m physically in front of someone or if I’m on Facebook, I compliment three people (and really mean it) to brighten their day. When you genuinely care about someone, it shows in tremendous ways. Caring about others allows you to really see things in perspective. It can make your worst days better. I’m not talking about being a cheerful ball of glee all the time, but rather having the ability to look at the light shining from a night sky instead of focusing on a cloud in the middle of a sunny day. It’s all about perspective.
You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to try. Putting forth the effort is 80% of the work, but maintaining the perspective to look forward even when you feel like you’re falling back— that’s how you win the battle.


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