“The surgeon warned us not to expect miracles. He said on a scale of 1 to 5, five being death she was at a four. And if by some chance she did survive, we were to expect her to be paralyzed on one side — if not totally worse off.”
Unlike many people in life, I truly enjoy what I do for a living.
The promotional writing I do brings in money for others. And brings in a good amount of money to me too for each project I accept. Well, not too long ago I was forced to give up my career of freelance writing and consulting.
Here’s what happened.
Nearly a year ago one of my in-laws suffered a brain aneurysm. She is a single mom. Her life centered around raising her two daughters.
Well, to save her life Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara kept her in a drug-induced coma for two months. Of course, we immediately agreed to take in her then 13 year old and extremely distraught daughter.
Being the youngest of two daughters and the only one still living at home, our niece wanted to see her mother daily. Every day was expected to be the last for her mother. Cottage kindly offered an apartment for the family to stay in. But there was too much to do in preparation of the possibility of my sister-in-laws death. So one or more of us traveled round trip with my niece to Santa Barbara. Weekdays and weekends.
The recovery process was touch and go. Every time the medical team tried bringing my in-law out of the coma she began to approach death. Her brain would began to shut down.
Doctors Astounded By The Power Of Human Will
Well, after two months of trying the surgeon and staff were successful about bringing my niece’s mother out of the coma. And after half a year of very frustrating speech therapy and physical recovery therapy she was eventually released to us to take home and provide ongoing care. Despite the excellent life-saving care she received in the hospital she was returned to us partially handicapped, both physically and mentally.
During the months of in-facility care and outpatient therapy my life was dedicated to helping her recover. And dedicated to helping my niece return to and maintain a semi-normal childhood. Why me? Since I work from a home office the logical conclusion was that I should be available to assist them. After all, how much trouble could it be to help her transition back to a normal life? I’d probably not even notice them there.
Well, it wasn’t easy. For any of us. The half a year of therapy removed any chance of in-home counseling or physical therapy. Instead, 12+hour days were dedicated to chauffeuring and providing for the two of them. This left little time for me to pursue much of anything else. Imagine a schedule of medical appointments as early as 6:30 a.m. and appointments and care lasting until late evenings and a slew of physical and speech therapy appointments, SSI appointments, shopping for them, and toting my in-law around to a number of pharmacies and government agencies plus taking my niece to and from school and after-school activities. The process was tough on them. And me too.
More than 12 hours every day was spent caring for the two of them. The promised ‘probably won’t even know they were there’ became a situation of 24-hour round the clock watch for us. I didn’t complain. Instead I continued to make sacrifices for family. This ordeal consumed nearly all my resources. To make matters worse, I had to decline all projects that came my way. Taking on any new projects while a family member was recovering under our roof from such a serious ordeal would have been irresponsible. If not impossible. These are the sacrifices families make for one another. To save a life.
In the end though I feel all this self-sacrificing effort and watching my freelance business temporarily die may have been for naught.
The Secret To Success Is
Accepting Help When It Appears
While living with us and under our care my in-law continued to resist help. She was determined to pursue the bad lifestyle that may have lead to the aneurysm in the first place. She is pursuing a self-destructive course that is putting herself and anyone around her in serious physical danger and even reportedly inviting criminal elements back into her life.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my family. I’d do just about anything to help them out. Because I thought sacrificing my business life and using up resources to support my wife’s sister and niece might make a difference, I did so. Clearly these resources could have been used to continue supporting my own family and my freelance career. But I took a personal loss. To save a life.
As it turns out, trying to help my in-law to clean up her life isn’t what she wanted. She wants her former destructive lifestyle. And as far as she saw things we were in her way. So she schemed and near violently conspired to get back to her former life.
Raising The Roof
My sister-in-law no longer lives under our roof. We put her out. Our own safety was at risk. She had to go.
A year of my life put on hiatus for nothing. Totally wasted.
This does not mean we’ve totally written off family. They are still part of our daily life. But from a distance. From an apartment of their own. Since an ongoing medical situation requires someone check in on her and provide for her daily she is still part of our daily life. We now provide that support from a distance though. And no longer 24/7 care.
What happens to her from this point forward is on her. I’m hoping for the best. But I’m now finally accepting her surgeon’s advice — I’m not expecting miracles.
Lesson learned from this experience
There’s a lesson here that applies to everyone in business.
You cannot force another person to change even if change is in their best interest. It must be their choice. A person bent on self-destruction will conspire, undermine, fight and do anything else they deem necessary to return to a destructive course. The best you can do is be there when they finally decide they need to change and want to change.
In business I see it every day. Companies are making self-destructive marketing choices. In some cases they are taking steps that are actually damaging to them. In others, they are ignoring methods that can provide huge improvements. I cannot force these changes on anyone. The decision to accept change has got to be internal.
Where do you stand?
For some people it literally takes a life and death situation for them to wake up and see the need for change. Unfortunately for some people by then it is too late. Don’t let that happen to you. Make the decision now to take an honest assessment of your marketing options. No one else can make that decision for you. If you are ready to take that step I’m ready to take it with you. Contact me today.