Why Not Take Care of You?

It’s June 2007 in the evening  and I am in the emergency room and the doctor says, “If you don’t let us admit you and walk out now, you’re at risk for a heart attack or stroke, you’ve lost too much blood.” 

I say, “I can’t be admitted.”

The doctor asks, “And why’s that?’”

I say, “I have two dogs, and I have a presentation tomorrow at a brain injury conference.”

The doc says, “You walk out of here now you may not live to see tomorrow.”

Now I would love to tell you that as soon as I heard him say this I fell into a momentary lapse of common sense and allowed myself to be admitted. But I didn’t. I dug my heels in. Finally, the doc says, “Okay, stay here in the ER and let’s give you three units of blood and see how things look after that. How’s that sound?”

I got the three units of blood, went home, collapsed into sleep, went to the conference the next day, presented, came home and collapsed into sleep again.

I know what stopped me from accepting admission to the hospital – pure terror. The question is, what stops so many of you?  

I retreated from accepting the suggested help because I was completely and utterly terrified. I’ve faced death up close, real close, in the ER before and didn’t feel like doing it again. Now don’t waste your time tossing reason at me here by pointing out that I would’ve been as close to death away from the hospital as I was in it, closer even. You’re right. I know that. But reason often has little say in moments like this – kind of like a feather in a windstorm.

What stops so many of you from taking care of you? I know people with emphysema, clogged arteries, diabetes and so on who avoid taking care of themselves as if doing so was tantamount to joining the Nazi party.

I want to look you in the eyes and from my heart to your heart ask you several questions.

  • Where and when (What period of your life? Childhood?) and who gave you the message you are so fucking worthless you don’t deserve the care?
  • Where and when (What period of your life? Childhood?) and who gave you the message you are so fucking worthless you don’t deserve the care?
  • Who taught you that asking for help or allowing help is an act of weakness?
  • If you think going for the help you deserve is an act of weakness, then why on earth is it so hard for you to do it?
  • And do you not realize that the people in your life are influenced by your life and the decisions and choices they see you make – or not make?
  • Do you have young people in your life? Children? Grandchildren? Nieces? Nephews? If they watch you die because you didn’t choose the care you deserve what influence do you think that will have on them when their time comes? Will they too short change themselves and die too soon, just like you might, and I almost did?

I am not about to say I know all the answers, I don’t. But I do know one thing as much as one can claim to know anything. No amount of fear or dysfunctional fucked up messages we got about ourselves in our respective histories deserves so much say they drive our decisions and then, in a very real  and tragic way, become part of what ends our lives.

Remember to live, dammit. Take care of yourselves.



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