My Shift, My Journey

Two days in a row at a new gym, I hadn’t worked out in almost 7 months and man did I hurt. I thought that the other physical feelings I was having in my body was a result of these bloody insane workouts, so I ignored them, for a while anyway.

The pain got worse as the night wore on and finally, I asked my wife to call the ambulance. Not because I thought I was going to die, but because we have two kids and it was a school night. It was 4am on Wednesday January 25th and I wasn’t about to take a cab or drive myself to the hospital. The ambulance got there in good time, it was expensive, but well worth it.

This is the beginning of my journey, my wake up, my awakening.

It turns out, after having spent the better part of the rest of that Wednesday in the hospital, that I had a gallstone. Ok, ok, you are probably thinking at this point: “A gallstone? An ‘awakening’? WTF?!”

Let me tell you gallstones are no joke. They make you feel bloated, full, there is constant pain on your right side that radiates through the rest of your abdomen and into your back. Some people mistake that pain for a heart attack, luckily for me, it was the former.

Feeling Better? Go Skiing, Right?

Thursday. I felt like my old self. I had organized a ski day for a bunch of Realtors® that were attending a conference in my backyard in Banff. There was no damn way I was missing a day at Sunshine Village! As expected, Sunshine delivered, snow was perfect, the sun was shining all day and the beer was cold. All told, it was an epic day to shred.

Gallstones be damned.

Friday. Out to the conference, on the road at 7:00am. Hit Lac Des Arcs (a little spot about 20 minutes from Banff) around 7:40am. Another gallstone attack. Ryan hops into the driver’s seat and gets us the rest of the way there.

This one was different. The other attacks were uncomfortable and would go away after a certain amount of time, this one was not going anywhere, very similar to Wednesday. I Check into the hotel and up I go to the room to rest. Missed the entire morning and a better part of the afternoon of the conference. I’m Pissed.

Now I’m debating what to do. Do I check myself into the Banff hospital or do I make the drive home or do I wait for my wife to make the drive out with our kids to pick me up?

We decided option 1 was best. I wound up back in Calgary via ambulance at the Foothills hospital about 10:30 that night and it had been confirmed that there was more than 1 gallstone and that I likely had multiple stones in my bile duct. That. Is. Not. Good.

Eyes Wide Shut

It was now Saturday January 28th and I hadn’t seen my wife or my kids since early Friday morning. I was feeling anxious because I missed them but also because I didn’t have an explanation for my kids as to why their Daddy was in a gown in a hospital bed. We never told them where I was on Wednesday so as not to alarm them. My wife actually got caught in a lie because my very aware daughter had asked, “If Daddy had to leave early for a meeting, why didn’t he take his truck?” Oy.

I was worried about their reaction. They had never been in a hospital before to see a loved one, let alone their Dad.

Saturday afternoon came, prior to soccer practices and birthday parties, my kids walked into my room and saw me for the first time. Both of their 8 year old eyes wide open and filled with fear, wonder and concern. It was heartbreaking for me to see. I put on a brave face and gave them the best hug I could and told them I was ok. That it was all going to be ok, that the doctors were looking after Dad and that they were going to make me all better.

They didn’t look like they believed it. They were still getting over the shock of seeing me like that. So my wife and I talked to them and let them know that I would be out in a few days and that they would be back to see me the next day.

I got hugs and smooches. They left. I cried.

This is Where the New Phase Begins

Those eyes. The look in those 8 year old eyes are seared into my brain. I never want to see that look on their faces again, this is a promise I have made to myself, to my family.

The day that I left the hospital, I knew it was a turning point, I knew things were going to change. My wife had brought me a notebook and a pen along with my laptop on Sunday when they came back to visit. In the notebook, I journaled and hammered out a 4 point plan of how I was going to treat my operating system from here on out.

It was simple enough:

  1. Eating Habits Must Change: Meal Prep on Sundays. No more eating out for lunch, lunches are prepared and healthy. Good breakfast and healthy snacks throughout the day and no snacking after dinner. Simple really.
  2. Sleeping Habits Must Change: No more staying up past 10pm. When I am up late, I have a hard time operating at optimal levels the next day. More rest.
  3. Alcohol Intake: I have quit drinking. I really don’t know when/if I will again. I thought this would be the hardest of the changes, it turns out, it is the easiest for me.
  4. Exercise: I had started at Mojo Fitness (something outside my comfort zone but also something that I will commit 110% to when I am healthy) prior to the start of this, I will continue with it when I am back. Leading a healthy lifestyle will improve every aspect of my life. Of that, I am convinced.

Seems simple right? You know what. For me right now, it is and here is why.

When we force ourselves to make a change in our lives, it never really works out, we need to embrace the change and not feel like it is something that is being done to us, like a punishment.

This is perspective. This is taking control of your life. This is me carving out a new story for myself. This is me making the choice to be out in front of the 8 ball instead of behind it.

Perspective Can Lead to Total Control

It took me having to go through a relatively routine operation (I had never had surgery before, hell, I have never broken a bone in my 42 year old body) to realize that we all have 1 life to live. That I had better make some changes or I would be seeing the inside of that hospital a lot more.

Worse yet, I would see the look in my kids eyes over and over again, nothing for me is worse, than that.

I wish that you never have to go through any of this to realize that you have a choice that you can make. Gain perspective of what is important in your life and set forward, in baby steps, to make changes for the better.

Gaining that perspective is what should give you that control back and when you have that, the changes you make become a reward instead of a punishment.

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