I am always stressing about attitude in dealing with the challenges of having a disability. I have even gone so far as to say that attitude is more important in dealing with a disability than ability, and I really believe it is. But what happens when your attitude deteriorates? It doesn’t happen to me often, but it does happen and it most likely happens to you also! I like to compare my situation to that of a juggler who can keep just so many objects in the air at any one time. It doesn’t matter whether the objects are the same or different, just add one more and everything comes tumbling down.
Well, I have too many objects in the air right now, and as a result my attitude has crashed. The last week of November into early December I started getting severe headaches followed by mental confusion. Saturday and Sunday December 3rd and 4th I went to the local hospital but on Monday I was transported to Upstate University Medical Center in Syracuse, New York. I had suffered a “chronic” subdural hematoma (bleeding on the brain). I was scared, confused and very aware how helpless I was. I thought about all the limitations that my situation places on me. When I’m in this frame of mind, it’s hard to simply consider them as challenges. I begin to wonder if I really have quality-of-life, and when I’m like this seriously question if my life is worth it. I’m going to die someday anyway, so why postpone the inevitable. Giving up would be easy. It’s going on day after day that’s tough. If I stop and think about this for a while, I remember how hard I fought the first six months after my accident doing whatever I had to in order to survive; however, that was at age 55, and now I’m 68. When I get in this mindset it’s hard to put the limitations aside.
The last ten years of my teaching career was spent with a class of high school students who had emotional or behavioral problems. I often found my- self doing more counseling than teaching. Most of them thought life had given them a lousy deal, and they were right. At times, I feel the same way, so I remind myself of what I told them. The Gambler, sung by Kenny Rodgers was current at that time, so we would talk about its meaning; life deals you a hand of cards and you must play them. You can wish all you want but the cards aren’t going to change much. The gambler knows this so he advises:
“If you’re gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.
You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run….
Now, every gambler knows the secret to survivin’
is knowin’ what to throw away and knowing what to keep.”
So according to this old sage, it’s not the hand you’ve been dealt that’s important but rather how you play it that determines the outcome
“Cause every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser,
and the best you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”
What is the gambler trying to tell the listener? I believe it’s that life is like playing a card game and how we handle life is all up to us. Our success is more influenced by our attitude then the cards we’ve been dealt.
“Happy” New Year? The choice is ours!