Chances are that at some point in your life you will face a health scare.
There may or may not turn out to be a serious health problem.
But the scare itself is seriously painful.
Maybe you have already been through this.
Maybe you already know what keeps you strong.
But if you want further ideas, I have some to offer.
I want you to be able to face any future health concern.
Shall we explore this together?
Will you let me be your ally?
Let’s DO this!
About eight years ago, my tummy suddenly erupted in large red areas of ugly blistering.
It quickly spread across my abdomen, moving upward and downward from there.
It took over my whole body. It looked horrible.
I was so scared. What could this be??? I asked, as I frantically researched online.
I found a description and photos showing the precise symptoms I was experiencing.
Beginning exactly where mine began, spreading in the same directions, moving fast.
It was a specific form of lymphoma of the skin.
A very fast developing cancer. Quickly fatal.
I’m going to die.
I was stunned cold, and terrified.
Deep sadness filled me. I would not fulfill my dreams for my life.
Even worse was realizing I would have to tell my two children.
“I have to be brave. I have to be brave for them,” was all I could think.
I made an appointment to see my doctor.
In the days before the appointment I just tried to survive emotionally.
What saved me
What actually saved me was a song.
A song I had always loved, Forever Young by Bob Dylan.
Two lines of it:
May you always be courageous. stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young.
I mainlined those two lines like a drug.
Said them over and over, continuously.
They strengthened me to get through the days before I could see my doctor.
Here are the full lyrics of Forever Young, in case they may help you one day.
And here are the vocals:
In the examining room, the doctor had me stand up so he could inspect
the ugly blisters now covering much of my body.
When he finished he looked me in the eyes and declared: “That’s not cancer.”
My eyes went wide. “That’s shingles.”
I was so stunned my knees went weak and I had to sit down.
“Really?” I stammered.
“Yes. Don’t worry. It’ll go away on its own. I can see it’s already on its way out.
Your immune system is very strong. It’s kicking it very fast.”
Tears flowed down my face.
We talked a while. I thanked him.
I drove home, to life.
But what about you?
What would help you to be strong if you were suddenly faced with your own mortality?
I have had a few more scares, and here are the five paths I have found most effective:
Being strong begins with facing the truth of how you actually feel.
You may have been walking around for days, hiding it from yourself and others.
So, it’s time to get real.
Pack up a little food, water, coffee and Kleenex,
and drive to a private and safe place that you love.
A place that holds you, such as a nice park by a lake.
Just sit there for a while, taking in the beauty.
When you are ready, ask yourself:
What am I feeling?
What are my fears?
Then just let yourself talk out loud, expressing everything you feel.
Allow yourself to experience and express all the emotions inside you: fear, grief, anger.
Allow yourself to cry if you feel like it.
Talk out loud till there is nothing more inside to be said.
When you have achieved clarity and some relief,
get bold and go on offense.
Say out loud:
“Why am I letting this health scare ruin my happiness?
Why am I letting it throw me?
I am tougher than this.
I am going to be fine.
Because I have decided I am going to be fine,
regardless of whether I have this health problem or I don’t.
My happiness is not available to be ruined.
My joy is unavailable to be destroyed.
Music is one of the greatest comforts in the world.
It is good to have a full repertoire of your favorite music and keep it close at hand.
So you can turn to it, during all moods and for all occasions,
but especially when you are hurting and scared.
Going to live concerts will give you an even deeper connection with the artists,
so they are always there for you. (I had seen Dylan many times.)
When we can’t go in person, live videos like this one of Peter Gabriel can lift us up:
Singing the songs yourself gets them deep inside your soul.
So they are there to draw upon any time you need them.
Ideally, you have a close friend, partner, family member, minister/rabbi/imam, or
therapist with whom you can be totally open and share the health scare you are in.
Someone you trust so much you can be completely transparent.
Someone who will give you understanding and support.
If you have no one, then talk with yourself.
Say the comforting and reassuring words you wish someone would say to you.
Write yourself the notes you wish someone were writing to you right now.
And read them often.
This is you, being your own best friend.
And if you have a cat or a dog, they will back you up.
If you are a believer, you know you are never alone.
Ask for what you need.
Pray that all pain and suffering and grief will leave yourbody and your mind.
And that you will remain free, and joyful as ever, regardless of any health problem.
Thank the Lord and tell him you are his.
Tell him you will follow him and that you will feed and tend his sheep
for as long as you are on this earth.
This is what helps me the most, believing I am right where I belong.
If you do not believe in God, be thankful to Nature that you are alive.
Be thankful you get to faithfully take care of this beautiful world for as long as you can!
Be thankful you are a builder who finds strength in love.
So there you have it
Five ways you can strengthen yourself to face a health scare.
Yes, they aren’t limited to dealing with your health.
But it’s a great place to start.
What strengthens you the most to face times of fear?
I would love to hear!