What I Learned About Life After Catastrophic Injuries

Your life can be taken from you in an instant. 

Heard that saying before? It is one of the most overused and least appreciated sayings.

While I don't think that I was close to death, I was certainly closer than I have been at any other point in my life to date. We trusted the surgical team but having your skull opened and a tumor removed from your brain is a scary thing.

Throughout this journey one of the best (and most unexpected) things that has happened has been that it has inspired people to make major life changes. For many this has been around physical fitness but I’d like to encourage you to consider other life changes that may be less obvious.

As I have taken time to put life into perspective there are a few themes that have been reinforced for me.

Enjoy the Smaller Moments

I have always believed that life is about appreciating the little things.

This has never been as true as over the last couple of months. 

We celebrated little victories such as being able to put enough pressure on the light switch to turn it on. Easily something that we all take for granted every day.  

I am someone who likes to run fast and hard. Always have been.

I’m usually juggling multiple projects both personally and professionally. I’m the one who has trouble saying “no” to invites and asks. I like to drive fast (but safe). I enjoy working out hard setting new personal records.

And then I had the two seizures and was forced to slow down to a crawl.

As I looked around riding in the passenger seat of our vehicles I began to notice new things that I had never seen before. 

I slowed down how fast I ate. 

I enjoyed going for walks throughout the day with Sasha and Laura’s mom and then Laura once she left instead of just walking Sasha quickly to check the box.

Slow down. Enjoy those less obvious smaller moments. Take time to appreciate everything you have.

Always Be Learning

Anyone that knows me well can attest to the fact that when I become interested in a new topic I obsess over it until I know everything there is to know about it.

I stay infinitely curious.

But, I realized that I stay curious about topics that fit into my interests and, even then, only within a certain box that I place each interest in. 

For example, I have been passionate about health and fitness for as long as I can remember however I never took the time to deeply understand mobility and movement systems. I am doing that now (obsessively, of course).

Though I had basic knowledge, I never explored Crossfit, yoga, pilates or any other area of fitness that didn’t fit into the realm of what I was doing for fear of changing my carefully crafted routine.

I also realized that I didn’t explore new and uncomfortable areas that would push me. 

I kept my websites on Wordpress instead of trying Squarespace. 

I never tried to think visually, such as sketching notes. Thanks to Sara Santiago, I now have a book on thinking visually, a blank notebook and a Micron pen.

Never stop learning. Never stop being curious. Explore new topics. Pick up a new book. Give a new skill a try.

Don't Get Caught Up in News and Gossip

Yes, I believe that knowing what is going on in the world is important. It can affect our lives both positively and negatively. But, what I have learned is that you do not need to hang on every word to the point where you become frustrated.

I used to watch news networks while commenting about how frustrated I was that all they were focusing on was a specific story. Or how they would take a comment by one expert and take that as truth.

Guess what? You can change the channel, turn off your TV, cut the cord completely or close the website.

In a similar vein, don’t get so caught up in other people’s lives, whether a friend or celebrity, that you forget to live your own. 

There are always times when it is necessary to be deeply involved in another person’s life. Being a better friend is not what I mean, though.

I am referring to the daily rumor mill, whether that be in your office or a website such as TMZ. 

I know people that are emotionally invested in everything that happens with a specific celebrity. What value does that add to their lives? 

Invest in Healthcare

I can’t express enough how important it is to have health insurance. 

The medical bills from the past two months are approaching $750,000. If we didn’t have health insurance I’m not sure what we would do. 

We are fortunate to have incredible healthcare options available to us. I realize that this is not an option for everyone, especially those who run smaller companies or work for themselves. 

Yes, premiums can be high if you are an entrepreneur. I know people that are spending upwards of $1,500+ per month on health insurance. That can cut into your pay significantly but is much better than getting socked with costs that are even 25% of what my medical costs have been.

Short-term and long-term disability insurance will take more from your paycheck if you work for a company that can offer such benefits.

Learn from our experience. We have invested in short-term and long-term disability for the last 3.5 years since I started at Citrix just in case anything ever happened. And it finally did 2 months ago.

Whatever the monthly cost is, invest in health insurance. 

It is one of those costs that we pay but never really understand what we get for it beyond co-pays on our annual check-ups and prescriptions.

There are several more themes but these are the most important. 

You have the ability to make changes at any point. Don’t wait for a tragic even happens to make changes.

Question: What lessons have you learned from a major life event?

Image Credit: w4nd3rl0st (InspiredinDesMoines) via Compfight cc