Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A New Normal

I've been feeling like I'm living someone else's life lately. Or maybe more accurately, that I'm still plugging along in my own life but someone told me an amazing story and I said "huh, that's something", but the story is actually about me.

I'll skip the details and be thankful for the good things, including my health, but it's got me thinking.

This must be a little of what people who are injured and/or ill experience. You see or hear things happen to other people and you thank someone or something that it's not you, then one day it is you.

No one plans to be in a car accident, or have a stroke, or go in to the hospital because they think they have a stomach flu but are told they actually have pancreatic cancer. Suddenly someone else's story takes over their own. But if I've learned nothing in the last 10 years, I know that with enough time and effort there can be a new normal. It's often drastically different than the old one, but still a sense of predictability and balance you can call normal.

Just when I was at the height of feeling overwhelmed by my own sudden shift, one of my favorite patients brought me a chicken sandwich he picked up on the way in to his appointment, because it was close to lunch time and he thought I might have been too busy to eat (he was right). He ordered it himself -- it was the first time he'd ordered anything on his own at a restaurant in over two years. It took crazy courage for him to do it, as his talking is sometimes very difficult to understand, especially for a fast food worker with beeping fry machines and a serious hurry. But he put himself out there because he wants to be able to do these things again.

He's working on his new normal.

So can I.

The equation above is what gives a normal bell curve, or at least I think it does... hopefully it's not nuclear secrets.

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