While this story does not involve an impairment such as we often are familiar with in workers’ comp, it does involve a severe, debilitating illness and an attitude worthy of discussion. 

Friday night my wife and I were enjoying dinner and drinks with friends in a local restaurant. Near the end of our meal, we were approached by “Mark”, whom I have known for a good number of years via business networks we both belonged to. I am also his customer; he runs a small lawn maintenance firm that has been responsible for keeping my weeds trimmed and neat looking for the last couple years. Mark indicated he was there with his wife, and had seen us come in earlier and just wanted to say hello. I recalled that his wife had been diagnosed with cancer early this year, and asked how she was doing.

A frown came over his face, and he slowly shook his head as he said, “Not good. Really terrible. She’s lost a lot of weight, and can’t eat”. He explained he had ordered her a cup of pudding just so she would have something in the restaurant to try and get down. He went on, saying “The chemo was the worst thing we could have done. After her first treatment her stomach shut down. She has to be fed with a tube 24 hours a day”.

But Mark wasn’t done. He suddenly smiled slightly, sighed, and said “But it sure could be a whole lot worse. Every day we are thankful for what we have, and have to remember that there are people out there dealing with a lot worse.”

People out there dealing with a lot worse. Very hard to imagine.

I found myself staring at him in stunned silence for what seemed like an eternity. In reality it was probably just a couple seconds, but for someone like me silence of any duration IS an eternity. I struggled to comprehend what could possibly be worse, while feeling tremendous admiration for the strength and commitment I had just heard. I found myself wondering if I, given similar circumstances, could possibly take such a noble stand.

Probably not.

Given similar circumstances most people would likely not react with such an ultimately positive outlook. I am willing to bet claims professionals reading this are dealing with injured workers today enduring much less, but treating their situation as far more serious. For some of them, their attitude continues to be the most disabling part of their situation.

I’ve met numerous people over the years with major life altering injuries and illnesses, yet they have continued to perform amazing feats through proper attitude and commitment. Even if it is trying to have a sense of normalcy dining with husband and friends, this woman is one of them. She, and her husband, are certainly newly initiated members of my Impairment Hall of Fame.

Something to think about as we start our week anew…..

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