If turnabout is fair play, then the more than layman’s knowledge of medicine I possess would make my mother proud. As early as kindergarten, she announced to me that I was to become a doctor. There, she said it, and that was that.
I grew up believing this was true for many, many years until one day (who knows when), I realized I had some sort of choice in the matter. It is not an uncanny coincidence that except for me and my friend Michael (who is a Rabbi), every single Jewish guy I grew up with became either a doctor or a lawyer.
It is somewhat comical to recall that my extensive knowledge of medicine began at around the age of 9 when I was diagnosed with a mysterious flu that sent my temperature to the upper atmosphere around 104 degrees. The effects of that illness haunted me for some time, and whether intentional or not, I catalogued virtually every medical visit or incident for the rest of my life in my ‘memory warehouse’ (if you haven’t seen the movie version of Stephen King’s “Dreamcatcher” you probably won’t understand the reference).
About 30 years ago I began my (can’t remember how many) career as an ‘undocumented physician’. With a track record of success well over the 90% range, I have accurately diagnosed family members, friends, and co-workers for at least that long. Without the requisite PHD, I have offered physical therapy sessions to many of the men and women I have worked with over the years, with every single one of them enjoying relief from pain due to my efforts.
All of this stems from the 17 major surgeries I have endured, the painful recoveries, and the years of therapy I participated in to try and regain a semblance of use of the affected body parts. About 20 year ago I was able to correctly define the medication that a real physician would prescribe for a multitude of ailments, without the benefit of having formally participated in a single clinical trial of any recognized medicine.
I truly feel all of this falls under the domain of what I have considered my mantra all these years: You can do anything you want in life – just go do it! I believe it is that simple, and I do not think God has given me any sort of special intellect or superhuman abilities that separates me from the average Joe on the street today.
Too much thought, calculation, or hesitancy before tackling an enormous project are stone killers. During my career as a software architect, I cannot count the times I was faced with what appeared to be an unsolvable problem. After spending hours bashing my head against the wall without finding a solution, I found the easiest way to solve any problem was to simply get up and walk away from it for 20 minutes.
Without exaggerating, this has always worked for me. Faced with a dilemma in the source code, I would get up and go for a walk, my head empty and my body relaxed. Rarely would it take more than 15-20 minute before the brutally obvious solution would appear before me like a speeding freight train. The proverbial light would go off in my mind and I would saunter back to my desk and code the solution within five minutes or so.
I began to apply this type of resolution for nearly any problem I faced, from software to auto repairs. It always works. Get up and walk away. Clear your head. Bingo! Go fix it.
The challenges I have faced physically over the past twenty-five years have been enormous. Faced with multiple debilitating illnesses that should have caused me to throw in the towel years ago (I tried that a couple of times – it does not help), many times I would quit and yield to the pain, wallowing in a decidedly dark despair that seemed to have no outlet.
Yesterday, faced with an enormous physical challenge I must face in about a month, I decided again to just do it. It worked. The secret I found about eight years ago has to do with harnessing an adrenalin dump in the body for a healthy profit. Many people fear the surge that occurs when the body begins processing adrenalin during a visceral experience. They fight it instead of flowing with it.
The roller coaster ride that accompanies this major physical and psychological alteration to the body’s chemistry is no more complex than the decision making strategy you face when forced to brake your car quickly on an icy road. If you are a competent driver and have been properly educated, you know this is a dicey situation with multiple bad outcomes if you overreact.
An adrenalin dump (no matter the cause) is exactly the same. The moment you realize you can harness the explosive vigor that it offers, directing said energy towards a specific goal, means you have overcome the fear factor generally associated with this transitory physical transformation.
I did that last night. I removed (temporarily) the restrictions I had placed on my activities years ago due to health and age. I accomplished an enormously stressful physical and emotional task fraught with multiple errors and distractions and completed the mission at hand. It involved taking apart and reassembling the same machinery over and over again for several hours without success until I found the numerous sources of the errors that were preventing me from completing my task. While I saw my frustration mount to an unenviable level, I was able to separate my emotional self from my physical self and ride the wave of adrenalin I produced (at will) to permit me to solve the puzzle.
In the back of my mind I knew what was going to happen when I turned off the flood of chemistry in my body. It happens to everyone in the same situation, you crash, and you crash hard (the pain returns). If you can’t accept that, you will not be able to harness the unbelievable amount of energy that can be used to fruitfully and expediently complete any chore.
Normally, I would rest for about 20 minutes every two hours. I have had to do this to cope with chronic pain that has followed me for nearly 30 years. Yesterday I arose at 2:30 am and rode the adrenalin until about 8:30 pm. Sure, when I let go, my energy fizzled like the air escaping from a balloon dashing mindlessly around a room until it unceremoniously plops itself down somewhere, spent.
What this extravaganza proved to me was that I CAN accomplish the task I have chosen to face next month, and I will succeed, barring any formidable freight train that comes barreling down my path unexpectedly.
If I can do it, you can do it.