Thursday, March 8, 2018

Resting at Home

I was supposed to be in Nashville this evening.

But I'm sitting on my living room couch instead, recuperating from a nasty bout of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) that I contracted 11 days ago, at the tail end of facilitating a retreat for Heartwood Cohousing in Bayfield CO. It used be that doctors thought RSV was a phenomenon that only affected children, but now they're changing their minds about that.

The symptoms appear similar to those of a common cold, with lots of wheezing, coughing, and general low energy. I was hospitalized for three days last week, during which I got some antibiotics and oxygen therapy. Mostly though, I just have to ride it through. 

So what's so noteworthy about a minor virus? Two things. 

First, it highlights that I'm immunocompromised, by virtue of my multiple myeloma. While I'm doing well battling my cancer, it takes it out of me and I don't have the constitution I once did. It's easier for me to catch a bug and it takes longer for me to recover. While I've tried to make adjustments (I don't work as much, nor do I agree to work more than two weekends back to back), it's not easy to know where the line is, or when I've overspent my energy budget. I'm still adjusting to the new Laird.

[As an interesting aside, my doctors think I'm probably better off traveling by train than by air, both because of pressure changes and because of the sardine-like quality to air travel, where I'm more likely to catch whatever someone else in the plane is carrying.]

Second, there is a complex calculus for me about what work I accept. Having come back from being  mortally sick two years ago (when the cancer was first discovered) questions about what to do with my life came sharply into focus. Not knowing how much time I have remaining (not that anyone ever does), or with what degree of vitality, how did I want to use it?

Given that I love what I do as a process consultant and teacher, I could think of nothing better than to use my good fortune (both in the sense that I have recovered sufficiently to be able to deliver at a high level, and in the sense that I am blessed with all the job offers I can handle) to continue to apply what I've carefully distilled from three decades in the field to help groups struggling today. After all, what did I come back for if not to be of service?

While there is no danger of running out of work, my challenge is finding the balance between helping all who ask for help, while at the same time not overtaxing my somewhat fragile body. Given that I typically make work commitments months in advance, it's pretty much a crap shoot how healthy I'll feel when that time rolls around. Sometimes, like today, I get caught out and can't answer the bell. While I hate canceling commitments, sometimes there is no choice (both Susan and my oncologist were quite firm about my canceling my trip to Music City, and that's a powerful duo to defy).

By staying home and extending my recuperation from RSV, I am protecting the chance to board a train Monday evening to facilitate a retreat in Mountain View CA the following weekend. I just have to get better by Monday, to avoid the ignominy of canceling back to back weekends.

After the California trip I'll return to Duluth for over a month, which my body will be quite thankful for. I tell you, this getting older business is not for wimps.


Mary Bennett said...

We miss you here in Nashvill Laird! But supporting your health is way more important to us than having you here. We will do our best to support Maria! Get well soon.

vera said...

I recommend wearing one of those surgical masks they give away free in clinics and hospitals, when flying, and during flu season.