How adaptable are you?
When some first hear this question, a common response will be “I feel I am adaptable, to most situations”. I would challenge extra thought into this question before responding. Adapting to career obstacles versus obstacles of one’s personal life are typically quite different. In business, people are more inclined to adapt behaviours and skills to meet the needs of their particular business. Why do people do this? The answer is simple. Businesses that don’t change with the times will always suffer, if not dissolve.
Such as in business, we must continuously adapt our way of living to meet our needs. For some this is far simpler to do than others. In my case, I have found myself in situations where I must change my way of living to meet new challenges and overcome life’s obstacles.
In my last post I wrote;
“Without agility, life would be stagnant. Stale. Unforgiving“
One such example, when I was 21 years old I had recently been promoted to a managerial role within my company. At the time, I was one of four that received a promotion. We were asked to travel to a different location 6 hours north to help a store prepare for inventory.
All four of us were roughly the same age and were very excited to be making more money and starting our careers. I remember my stomach had been quite sore leading up to this point. I had not thought too much of it, assuming that it was caused by my nerves. Looking back, it’s hard to believe how naive I was. You see, I had noticed blood in the toilet after bowel movements shortly after the stomach pains began. Being 21, excited about the prospect of a promotion along with the monetary increase I told myself “It’s fine. Just nerves. I’ll be fine once I sign the paperwork”.
The trip up I remember not eating much to avoid the pains. I was in the back seat of a 4 door Pontiac Sunfire, which didn’t leave much leg room. Again, my head went to making an excuse for the pains. “Once I’m out of the car and we get to the hotel, it will be fine”.
Truthfully, I don’t have an accurate recollection of the specifics of those 11 days we were up there. What I do remember, is driving a forklift between steel containers, moving pallets of merchandise. This really helped distract me from the pain. I had never driven a forklift before and was exciting whipping around on it. It was a very hot summer, I drank a lot of water. When I would drink pop, it would go straight through me. Bringing more blood with it. When we would break for lunch I would avoid eating telling others I was just not hungry.
Everything came to a head one or two days before we were to drive back home. We went to East Side Mario’s for lunch. By this time I was very hungry and thought to myself, Fuck It!! I ordered the Chicken Parmesan. As I’m writing this, I remember feeling ill after starting to eat. I ended up in the bathroom at the restaurant. What I had begun to eat 20mins earlier was already passing through. I went back to the table scared and sweaty. I just wanted to be home.
Once back at the store, I had an incredible sense of urgency to use the bathroom again. What happened next took me years to speak of, apart from one or two doctors. When I got into the stall, both ends let loose. Then when I thought to myself this couldn’t get any worse I began to vomit in the bathroom stall. When things began to slow down, me being me, I tried to clean up with toilet paper and paper towel. The pains and sense of urgency were still there. I left the restroom then told the others I was going back to my room.
After walking to the hotel, as soon as I opened the room door, everything started to flow again. This time I was able to do so without making an incredible mess. When everything had escaped me, I laid on my left side on the bed. Whether I passed out or fell asleep I couldn’t tell you. When my roommate came into the room, he asked if I was alright. He told me someone had made a mess of the bathroom at the store and it was a real mess. We both knew it was me, we just didn’t say anything. He obviously smelled the room and knew it was me. Something important to note, both of us were in our very early 20s. At the time, neither of us felt comfortable talking about it. The next morning we packed for the trip back.
To this day, I can still remember curling up as close to the door in the rear drivers side. I found a position where the pains would subside to where I could fall asleep. When my girlfriend picked me up from the store at home, she couldn’t believe how much weight I had lost. She wanted to take me to the hospital, I said no. I just wanted to go to our apartment and get some rest from the drive back.
The next morning, she drove me to a walk in clinic. There happened to be a resident working in the clinic that day. He knew I was in bad shape, I still hadn’t told anyone about the blood or what happened up north. Finally I caved. I explained to this doctor what had truly been going on. He stepped out to speak with the other doctor. When they both returned to the room I was told to go straight to the emergency room and they would be calling ahead on my behalf.
I cannot lie, once I was at the hospital and they gave me a room, I felt as though a burden was lifted. By the time my mother arrived from out of town, I was on such strong pain killers I fell asleep in a hospital chair. I could hear her crying and still do to this day.
I did not know what was going to be my fate. In the eyes of those around me I was loosing weight at an incredible rate, was unable to keep any food down and bleeding where one should not bleed. Up until that time, I had never been so scared in my life.
Next week, I will delve deeper into what was to come next. My life was about to go down a path I could not see over the horizon. A path that would forever change my life and the lives of those around me.
To this day speaking of this experience I. depth, brings many emotions to the surface. Looking back, this event built a foundation. A foundation for me to endure even more trying times to come.
From the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis to a very rare skin disease by the name of Pyoderma Gangrenosum. If it were not for this experience at the age of 21, honestly I do not know how I could have weathered the upcoming storms.