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All I want for Christmas is…surgery

What are you wishing for?

This year for Christmas, I hope for a new and improved right wrist.

The fall that broke my wrist in 2016 left me with daily pain and difficulty with the wrist attached to my dominant right hand. At least I’ve had a good excuse for my lousy penmanship! More importantly, in order to walk more than a few steps I need to use a cane in my right hand to balance out my damaged left leg. And of course I need both hands to propel my wheelchair. In other words, my right wrist is the linchpin to all of my independent mobility. Now it will have actual pins.

On Monday, December 23rd, an esteemed hand surgeon (you don’t want a greenhorn on their first rodeo) will perform the delicate and critical surgery to repair my wrist and ultimately heal the pain I’ve felt for the last three years. But first it has to hurt more. 

Sometimes we have to hurt in order to heal.

I can’t even pretend to be wise here, but I do know from experience that in order to heal – whether it’s physical or mental – it sometimes has to hurt a whole lot more first. This applies equally to people and to organizations. Think of the company that has to radically downsize their workforce in order to become commercially healthy. Or the individual who has suffered quietly alone with depression, anxiety, or grief because they are afraid to be discovered as anything other than “merry and bright.” 

It hurts to share our frailties, but it can also heal. Read more

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Courage Training 101

soldier playing with working dog

I’m listening to the audio version of Brené Brown’s book, Dare to Lead. At one minute and fifty-three seconds into the book I hear this….

“I looked at these brave soldiers and said, ‘Vulnerability is the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Can you give me a single example of courage that you’ve witnessed in another soldier or in your own life that did not require vulnerability?’

Complete silence. Crickets.

Finally a young man spoke up. He said, ‘No ma’am. Three tours…I can’t think of a single act of courage that doesn’t require managing massive vulnerability.’”

I heard those words and something buried deep down inside came bursting to the surface, catching me completely off guard. Even though it was five years ago (and 28 days…but who’s counting), tears rolled down my cheeks as I said quietly to myself, “I was so scared…I was so scared….” This is embarrassing to admit (vulnerability bared for all); I sunk to the floor, curled up in a fetal position, and full-on ugly cried for half an hour. For the first time, I allowed myself to feel the terror of that split-second, deadly dangerous moment when lives were at stake and I was in charge. Read more

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I Dare You to be Brave!

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, `I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ … If you fail anywhere along the line, it will take away your confidence. You must make yourself succeed every time. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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Put Others First

kidney transplant

If I had died, my organs would have been donated to someone in need. I’ve always believed in the value of organ donation. I survived, but unfortunately my kidneys did not. My family was devastated as I was left with only 13% kidney function. My only hope was a transplant.

My 36-year old baby brother, with the support of his wife and two young daughters, stepped up as a living donor. To our joy all tests looked excellent. We excitedly prepared for a transplant at a top ranked hospital near home.

One day we got the call…but not a good one. It turns out Matt is 1% of the population with multiple renal arteries. Crazy, right?! That means he has 3 arteries to his left kidney and 4 to his right kidney instead of the usual 1. The transplant team felt the risk was too high and they turned us down. My whole family cried. Then we got creative….

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