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“Where do you see me in five years?”
I had been waiting a long time to ask that question. At the top hospitals you don’t just get in next week, next month either.
And when your day comes, there are lots of people waiting for their turn to ask important questions. Doctors have little allotted time.
My doctor had already turned toward the door. My most pressing concern was still untreated.
“I know you don’t have a crystal ball, but just some sense of what to plan for? My kids haven’t even started school.”
To the doctor’s credit, the response was considered.
MD: Five years…You’ll probably need to use a cane.
Me: Will I still be able to work?
MD: What kind of work do you do?
Me: Generic businessman, desk-jockey stuff.
MD: …I’d say 50-50.
Me: Okay, thank you. A lot of doctors would’ve been less candid. I appreciate that.
As I left the building, though, I wished my response had gone further. Like,
“I appreciate that. Now allow me to return the favor.
Go round up all your liquid assets. Every one you can. Convert them to cash.
Someone, somewhere is dying to make a market for an over/under wager. And when you find the book that will take it, place the briefcase on the table between the two of you, pop it open facing him (that part is important, you might want to practice that because it’s not a natural thing, facing it opposite you), and very deliberately tell him, “LAY THE WHOLE DAMN CASE ON THE OVER 5 YEARS!”
Of course, those responses only happen in the movies.
I went to the doctor’s office that day determined as hell to hold off Parkinson’s. Hold it off with that same level of intensity that the Texas Rangers try to hold off wins in October.
But I left the doctor’s office that day with a drive in me that I had never in life known before. Five years put my daughter going into 1st grade!
So, here we are now 5 years and about 8 months later. I actually haven’t thought much about those projections recently.
But hey, let’s just see how we would have done on our bets!
Turns out the doctor is a doctor for a pretty good reason. The 5-year outlook…not that bad.
I don’t use a cane, but there are times when I think “Dang, I could use a cane.”
As for working, I did in fact just recently quit my job. Didn’t pay anything anyway. I took a shot on my own business and it didn’t work. It had nothing to do with any diseases, though, or from not working enough.
Who wants a job anyway, when you can have a passion? I created and am leading an initiative within the Parkinson’s community. My goal is to empower with knowledge and drive to exceed predefined limitations. I’m passionate about it because I know the subject and the subjects. I may be a little subjective, but I think I know their biggest need.
I told you what I should have said on that day more than five years ago.
Let me tell you what I think patients should hear, be it from their doctor or from someone else, when they have a question along the lines of “When the grandchildren come visit in five years, will I still care for them or will they have to care for me?” or “Will I still be working in five years?”
MD: Well, do you want to still be working in five years? Yea? Okay, I’ll show you exactly what you have to do to get there. And we will be pushing you to get there. Pushing you to go past there. It won’t be easy. But giving up, or being unwilling to adapt, that’s gonna’ feel a hell of a lot worse.
The doctor’s walk-off could even be something like,
“You like alternative medicine? How do you like these alternatives?”
That’d be kinda’ bad ass.
So, my goal for the next 5 years, 10 years… but one day at a time, is to inform as many of you as possible that:
- You hold the biggest say in your fate.
- Your perspective on life can actually become healthier.
- There are still infinite ways to find fulfillment.
I’ve always liked the analytics of odds and projections. What I have grown to love is the creativity to beat the odds, and the art of navigating uncertainty.
Patient, don’t ask, “Where will I be in five years?”
Say with conviction,
“Here is where I want to be in five years. Help me create the route to get there!”
Choosing your doctor is meaningful. Choosing yourself…that’s critical.
[Editor’s Note: This post is a time capsule, actually written 5 years ago, when the author was looking back 5 years earlier to a Neurologist appointment, and the questions he had at that time about the next 5 years.]
[The listing ship image was sourced from Wikipedia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ivory_Tirupati_with_heavy_list_3.jpg]