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The most raw, honest and profound interview.

Friends, this is the most raw, honest and profound interview I’ve ever given.

Please listen and allow it to change how you connect with people everywhere.

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Shingles Hells

I thought I was so smart! Before getting a kidney transplant I researched vaccines that I needed. I discovered that the shingles vaccine recommended for everyone over age 60 is a live vaccine and not allowed after transplant. It took some convincing, but my insurance agreed to pay for the vaccine for a 48 year old. Woohoo! I got the shingles vaccine and proceeded to transplant feeling both safer and smarter.

Fast forward 10 months…. Turns out I don’t know everything. The shingles vaccine (known as zoster) while important is still only 51% effective and less so in immune compromised people such as organ transplant recipients – like me. After 4 days of brutal rib and back pain I woke up Monday morning with a garish rash wrapping in a wide swath around my ribs on the right side from spine to sternum. 24 hours later the tell-tale blisters were forming.

Fortunately I had a doctors appointment scheduled anyway – because I always have a doctors appointment scheduled somewhere – and I got started on antiviral medication, extra pain pills and lidocaine patches. My bedroom looks like a pharmacy! But I’ve got it under control and once again I felt smart. For a brief period.

After 24 hours of aggressively managing pain with pharmaceuticals and chocolate, I finally read the directions on the prescription lidocaine patches out of curiosity. I mean, how complicated could it be? Peel off the backing and stick the patch to your skin….’Do not use for more than 12 hours in a 24 hour period.’ Huh.

Husband: “How long have you been wearing the patches?”

Me: “24 hours. I’ve been in hellish pain!”

Husband: “Yeah, getting too much lidocaine in your system is bad.”

Me: “Why? Does it make you go numb inside?”

Husband stares blankly…..

It turns out that too much lidocaine absorbed through the skin can be fatal. I can just see the obituary now – she died from a sticker. I’m seriously rethinking feeling smart.

Maybe you’ve felt pretty smart sometimes. Maybe you’ve had your pride knocked down a peg or two. Much like shingles, it hurts. How we react makes all the difference. As long as we don’t get angry and defensive, these humbling lessons provide opportunities to add useful knowledge and humorous anecdotes to our toolkit. You never know when those tools could be a lifesaver for someone else. Wishing you many lessons and a full toolkit.

Reaching Through the Pain

photo credit: Render’s Photography

Every day I wake up hurting. I start my day with the eye opening reminder that this is real. It wasn’t a bad dream. I don’t think it’s different than any other kind of pain though. The loss of a loved one or a job or a dream. Pain is all around.

For me, it’s both physical and emotional. And I am so very tired. All the time. Hurting is a lonely feeling. For everyone. We hunker down alone and wait to heal. Then we wonder why we feel so alone even when surrounded by people.

Pain is an egocentric experience. It causes us to focus inward instead of reaching out around us. But I know, the more I reach out to people, even if it’s just a smile, the less lonely I feel in my experience of pain. It isn’t that others understand or that I even expect them to. It’s that I’m simply less egocentric when I reach out.

Rule #1: It’s Not About You. Not even when you’re suffering.

Rule #2: You Have to Actually Care.

I am reminded that I created those rules at a time years ago when I was suffering a different kind of drama. I had to perform shows when all I wanted to do was stay curled up in my trailer crying. But the show must go on, especially when my livelihood depended on getting out of the trailer with a smile. So I wiped my tears, looked in the mirror, and chanted those first two rules. Then I opened the door, faced my audience and boldly embraced the rules. I did that day after day and began to see how consistently I felt better, less in pain, by practicing a compassionate outward directed focus. As a bonus the shows benefitted greatly!

Years later I am still needing constant reminders of this simple lesson. Reaching out with a compassionate heart won’t cure the pain, but it’s the best medicine for the loneliness of suffering.