It doesn’t matter what the specialty is…
All skills are necessary. All specialist should be proud of their individual dedication to their craft. Were it not for the single-minded dedication of the few, to master their craft, we might not be that much further along in technology, lifestyle, and intelligence than cave men.
It was a specialist in surgery that mended my wounds. It was a specialist in craftsmanship that built the back brace especially suited for me. And, it would be the specialists in therapy that would teach me to walk again and live with my injuries.
During the first week and a half in the hospital following surgery, I remember people passing through my room. Friends and family stopping by to wish me well. There was one friend in particular that came by my room. He happened to be in the same hospital undergoing treatment for a cancerous tumor in his chest. (I didn’t know it at the time but his passing within a year of his visit would reunite me with some old friends and set up the messages that I am now trying to pass on.)
This man had recently been married. He had children that he loved, was hardworking and he loved God. Come to think of it, I cannot remember a time when he was not smiling. He had one of those big infectious smiles, too. The ones that make you smile no matter what kind of mood you were in.
Now, what was the reason for taking this man from this world and leaving me in it?
That thought crossed my mind often after his death.
I was not contemplating suicide but here I was an addict, a thief, a manipulator, and a liar. I was depending on my parents to help support me. I was not being the father to my son that I knew I should be. I was in and out of rehab and jail.
Yet, here I was alive and still causing trouble.
There was a message in that surprise visit from him while I was in the hospital. God sends us messengers if we don’t shoot them down first. So, what was his message?
From what I could pull from it, the message was to smile often and to have faith in divine intervention. But, who am I to say what is true and what is not? These are the way I see things and how I have come to understand the lessons of my life so far. Simply put…
I am simply another man reflecting the light of the “sun”.
I had spent about ten days in the hospital after my surgery. From the hospital, I was transported to a rehab clinic to learn how to live with my injuries.
Among the things that I had asked my parents to bring were two books: the Bible and Pryor Confessions. These were to accompany me while I rebuilt myself from the inside out. These stories and others about success after recovery were the stories that I read while in physical therapy in the rehab facility (along with a healthy dose of comedy shows, cartoons, and sitcoms).
Richard Pryor, one of my all-time favorite actors and comedians, used to do a skit about Mudbone. Mudbone was a character he created to teach life lessons during his comedy routines. In order to understand this character you must think about the lifestyle and culture of the old Black country boy that has grown up working on a farm. He has spent many years thinking about life, going to Sunday service, and raising chil’en (that’s how my grandma used to say the word… complete absence of the ‘d’ and the ‘r’).
One of the Mudbone skits features Mudbone speaking with Richard Pryor about why he is going into comedy and exactly what Richard’s topics would be about.
Mudbone advice was simple and direct. He told Young Richard to talk about real life and the hard times that come along with it. He advises him to remember to “keep some sunshine on your face”. He illustrated his point with a description of how he would walk outside, step out into the sunlight, grab some of it with open hands, and rub it all over your face because “you don’t know when will be the next time you see it or if you will ever see it again.” A very wise message, indeed. I pass on this advice.
I had faith in my body’s ability to heal itself. I also believed that my recovery would be aided by laughter and visualization. Richard Pryor’s biography provided plenty of laughter. His self-deprecating humor was a welcomed respite when I felt the need to lighten my thoughts.
I truly wanted to get out of the rehabilitation center as soon as possible. So, I was open to all forms of ‘treatment’.
This, of course, means I had to use the powers of my mind and, in particular, my imagination. I used my imagination to visualize my recovery. As far as visualizing goes, my sister is an occupational therapist. She brought me books on the muscle and skeletal structure. I figured that knowing what my body was supposed to look like on the inside would help me to heal myself subconsciously.
I didn’t really understand what the books were saying (I am a business school grad not premed) but I looked at the pictures and nodded. I still believe the pictures helped my recovery whether I completely understood the verbiage associated with them or not. I simply looked at the pictures of a healthy functioning skeletal and muscular structure and imagined my body mending itself to a similar fashion. (This may sound far-fetched but then again many of you reading this will ever go through the experience that I went through.)
I did work more tangible activities into my recovery. The only way for me to do that was to eat well, practice hard, set goals, and learn that it was okay to say “IT HURTS!”
I thank my father’s body guard, “Coach”, (yes, my father has a body guard as part of his image) and the therapists at the rehabilitation center for putting up with me and my jokes. Coach brought me protein shakes and checked on my progress daily.
Let me describe Coach here. He is about six foot three and two hundred fifty odd pounds with a body fat percentage in the low single digits. When the man says, eat this, drink that, and push yourself, then you do it. He’s a gentle, kind-hearted man. One of the first times I remember seeing him was at a baseball game I was coaching. When I see him the first thing I notice is a lap dog. Now, here is that over-sized, ex-football playing, walking-talking muscle (for lack of a better description) with his right arm curled and cradling this dog.
I mean… his arm is larger than this dog — and the dog is full-grown! Coach just has this big grin on his face. He’s seemingly oblivious to the paradox he represents. Coach, I love you, my guy!
Contrast Coach with my therapists who were about five foot four and one hundred thirty pounds of pure dedication to their patients. When they said, stand on one leg and do these exercises, do these exercises in your room, and get plenty of rest, then you do it. At least, I did.
I had a goal. I was going to walk into Thanksgiving dinner without crutches or a walker. That required me to eat well, practice hard, and listen to my body – physically, mentally, and emotionally. These are the same things that I carry into any new skill that I learn.
In order to move on and to move up in life or whatever you’re doing, there are skills that must be learned even if it takes therapy (or apprenticing or tutoring) to do so…
D Arlando Fortune
Keep it as simple as A, B, C’s; 1, 2, 3’s; and, do, re, mi’s
PSS. If you wish to learn more about how to use storytelling to market your product or service, I am creating a newsletter and training in the near future. For now simply type ‘YES’ into the comments section below or send me an email requesting me to ‘hurry up and get it together’ to [email protected]