We set life goals, tangible and intangible, such as achieving a level of professional success or creating a certain style of life. We also set near-term goals. For example, when I used to run, I would decide to run three miles, then along the way, set mini-goals of running faster until the next lamp post. These smaller goals helped me in reaching the larger goal.
Since my diagnosis, the tone of my goals has changed to sound more like, “How long can I live?” I set out for 20 years and the mini-goals, so far, look like this:
- See our older son make his First Communion and be able to host family
- Attend his fourth grade poetry reading and listen with my whole heart
- Help our younger son transition to his “real” school (from preschool)
- Celebrate another wedding anniversary with my husband (I reset this one every year)
- Prepare for and attend the First Communion of our younger son
I feel so lucky to have attained the first four, and I have the fifth one in my sights.
In the meantime, as other goals pop into my head, they get added.
For example, last week, I was loving my 10-year-old car. Yes, it has given me problems here and there, but lately, it felt reliable and like it would go on forever.
Goal: I would love to outlive my car.
Immediate gut response: Careful what you ask for.
The next day, I started the car in our garage and slowly backed out. The engine felt sluggish, but I attributed that to our crazy-cold weather. As I backed up further, the ABS and BRAKE warning lights flashed orange on my dash. Then the BRAKE light turned to red.
I checked the handbrake. I’ve driven with that on before, but it was not set. Halfway out of the garage, I thought, maybe I just needed to restart the car?
I turned off the ignition. Instantly, I realized my mistake, but the deed was done. I could not start it again. It wouldn’t even turn over. Not a click.
I looked over my left shoulder and saw the side of the garage door right next to me. I tried to open it, but there was not enough room for me to get out. I was effectively locked in the car. Sigh.
What were other options? The backseat doors were clear of the garage! I climbed over the seat. Not so easy to do with a colostomy bag, sore abs, and generally under-used muscles, but I did it! Once out, I felt thrilled with my little physical manipulations. One problem solved. Now to worry about getting the car started.
Just then I realized – it was FREEZING cold outside and the garage door could not close with my car in the way. We would be heating the outside for hours through an opening the size of a garage door!
Call to hubby, my salvation in all things that I cannot handle on my own.
Yes, I see some parallels to my body. Sometimes it feels a bit unreliable, but I can go for such long stretches of feeling good that I feel like the problems are gone. And then suddenly, they crop up again. I can feel trapped, but I luckily have been able to climb out. Maybe a little awkwardly and with some effort, but it works. And much of the time, I look at my situation and realize that I need help. Fortunately, help arrives.
My husband came home, pushed the car out of the garage, and charged it. He charged the battery, but it wouldn’t hold a charge. Because this is the fourth battery in 10 years, and we had countless mechanics say they can’t find a problem, it feels more like some obscure electrical problem.
It became clear that, as much as I loved this car, it was time to move onto another one.
So, check that goal off my list. Next!