There are two horrible sides to being a goal-oriented person. We like to talk about the pure joy of meeting those goals. We tend not to talk about the other side – failing to meet those goals or not having them at all because you are not in charge of the outcome.
I can see why god is intoxicating for people. People rely on their faith in times like these when they desperately want answers and the ones they get, if any, are indecipherable. Handing it over to a higher authority is a comfort for some. Not for me.
For days now my father has hovered between life and death. We have been told enough to be very scared. We have been told this is a long process. We’ve been told some days he’s doing better. When he’s not doing better it’s the silence or slight head shaking that’s as good as confirmation. The doctor in charge sees the large picture and, because he is extremely capable, has seen patients recover from even the direst of situations. What he doesn’t say, or need to, is that he has seen many fail to do so.
We’re not doctors so we cannot truly interpret the data we see. Even with a co-parent who is a nurse, it just means we get a little more info than the average person. But there’s a significant amount of data we don’t see. One of my father’s favorite metaphors is about the nine blind men asked to describe an elephant and each is focused on a different part of the animal. None have a complete picture. Ironically, this is exactly where we are. We see him intubated, unable to breathe on his own without severe distress, and a major organ inflamed and not functioning. There are secondary and tertiary issues as a result of these distressed situations.
When someone says “this is a long process” we have to wonder how that breaks down. In endurance training we break down a year into macrocycles, mesocycles, and microcycles. If you have a bad workout, it doesn’t wreck your A race because it’s just a hiccup in a microcycle. A bad week or bad mesocycle is more serious – a severe cold that stops you from working out can actually negatively impact your peak. However, if it happens earlier in the season it’s not as bad as it’s only a lost base training week that is low volume anyway. Lose a week in a critical build period and expect that your A race is probably going to suck pretty hard. Understanding your cycles and where events happen in that cycle is the key to focusing on W.I.N: What’s Important Now.
Being in the ICU is a lot like this, just with a fraction of the needed information. Without real goals we stare at the monitors and machines and run like dogs when things beep or change because it feels good to do something. We get updates; we’re not being kept in the dark. But there’s a cutoff where we’re simply not able to parse everything they know and we simply have to trust that they are focused on the same goal of saving his life.
Before I left town on Saturday my mom said she wanted me to come back after my dad was weaned off the ventilator. I said that could be as early as Tuesday and I couldn’t jump back on a plane. I had to move. And more, it was not enough of a success for me to feel safe. We were looking at 3 months minimum of hospitalization and several critical life-threatening periods during that time. She impressed on me the need to come out for those successes and I resisted.
A few days after coming home and immersing myself in the details of moving our home, I understand the importance to go out again for a success. Every time the phone rings and I see it is my mother calling my heart jumps and my adrenals fire.
I expect the call is to inform me of his death and this is a horrible way to live.
When my mom’s voice chirps in, “hi!” in her eternally optimistic way I relax just a little. But the caller ID has already worked its evil into my heart and brain and I am shocked all over again into remembering my father connected to machines, not doing well.
Without a goal of a success my default goal has become the death of my father.
Therefore, I think that if you do not set a goal for success, failure will by default define it for you.
I have to find positive goals and I will fly back home when he has reawakened and is past the first major crisis period. I owe that to him, and to myself. I can’t live my life waiting for the universe to confirm my negativity.