Some of you know that my mother is sick, but for the rest of you, here are the basic details. I stepped off a plane on Friday the 11th and heard the news that my mother was rushed to the hospital with a condition called acute pancreatitis.
Without telling too much of the story — my Mom is a diabetic who has heart disease and a lipid disorder. She has difficulty managing her diet, and her lifestyle puts stress on her pancreas and other organs. My Mom went into something called hypovolemic shock once the pancreatitis escalated. Her vitals were scary and organs failed. She was intubated and put into a medical coma to ‘rest’ her body.
Dudes, it’s a mess. I would give you an update but it changes frequently. The level of optimism changes, too, based on how the tests and bloodwork and xrays and scans are interpreted by doctors & nurses. Here’s what we know: everyone dies, your body can only take so much, and progress is measured in small steps. Recovery, if it happens, will be a long and winding road.
The good news? A weaker woman would be dead, already. My mom is tough as nails. This is her third bout of the illness and my siblings and I know what to expect (sorta). She might die. She might live for awhile and die from other complications. She might survive, recover, and get hit by a bus in twenty years. Who the hell knows? Everyone dies, and the smart people in our lives advise us to take each day as it comes.
So I’m telling you this story because I hate telling this story. It makes me feel weak, and I worry that everyone will treat me gingerly because my Mom is not well. When someone asks me how my Mom is doing, I have been responding, “She’s hanging in there. What’s new with you?”
Let’s talk about something else. Like Joe Wilson.
But here’s what I know — caring for sick children, parents, and loved ones is such a common experience in our lives. Maybe I would feel better if we had a conversation about the pressure it puts on us as workers, job seekers, and leaders. Here’s what I am doing to cope with my anxiety.
- I am diving into work.
- I have been super-productive knowing that my nervous energy needs to be channeled into something healthy.
- I’ve written business proposals. Completed projects. Held good conversations. Scrubbed litter boxes.
I’ve learned that tragedy can provoke creativity and innovation in my life. I’m keeping an electronic journal, taking notes, and keeping my eyes open. I wonder where this journey will take my family. I also wonder how many bags of potato chips it will take to make my brain feel calm. I think it takes about five bags. I’ll keep you posted.
Now I want to talk about you. Have you worked and cared for a loved one? What has your experience been with FMLA or protected leave? Were you able to work and be an effective caretaker? How do you manage your time and your stress level?
I would love to hear how people cope during the stressful times, and I want to know how you acknowledge the situation in your lives, thank people for their concerns, and shift the conversation to something else. Honestly, I want to talk about Tom DeLay on Dancing with the Stars. I saw a trailer for the upcoming season premiere and the dude is killing me in his sweatpants. Have you seen it? It’s gold.
[Thanks for all of your support. I really do appreciate it.]