Pneumonia Helps With Self-Esteem


It came as quite a shock to me to find that I could hardly walk because I was so breathless. Three days before I had run about seven and a half miles with a rucksack on my back and had no difficulty at all. Now I was almost helpless.

The following day, I was in hospital. I had never been in hospital as an in-patient before and I could barely believe that they wanted me to stay overnight – worse than that – they wanted me to stay for two nights. How was I going to manage with no access to the internet or to my e-mail? I know that some people will think such sentiment is laughable, but e-mail and the internet are a significant part of my life and part of the way I make a living. I use a computer every day of my life and I run a weekly newsletter, which is going to be late. All my accounts are accessed via the internet and while in hospital I had no way to earn any money. What was I going to do?

I am still in hospital as I write this, not after two days, but after two weeks of being completely disconnected from my life. It seems that somehow I had got an infection in my left lung, otherwise known as pneumonia. Four days ago, I had an operation to remove fluid from my chest cavity and to take a biopsy to determine the exact cause. I have a chest drain and despite some very powerful antibiotics, the infection is still hanging around, which means that the drain stays in and I still can’t go home.

Trust me, such a sudden change in my health had a big effect upon my self-esteem. Despite the fact that I write a regular self-esteem newsletter, it still took me a couple of days to convince myself that my heath or lack of it, my abilities or disabilities had no connection to my value as a person. Despite knowing that, I had never had my belief tested like this before and the change was so sudden and dramatic, I was left totally confused. But I did work through it and I am much stronger for that. Taking a firm approach, is much better than concentrating on my problem. If I concentrate upon the problem, I will tend to feel helpless and powerless. Concentration on where I want to be instead, is much more powerful and makes me feel better. I can even appreciate this illness for the things that it has taught me.

But what about the operation? I teach people how to be relaxed when a stressful event is coming up in their lives. Do I know my stuff well enough to keep myself relaxed? I am always telling people that getting stressed out achieves no useful outcome. All it does is make you stressed, which is bad for you and makes you feel bad. Apart from that it achieves nothing. It seems to me that it is a waste of energy and if I am going to use up a lot of energy, I would rather use it on something more productive. So, having set that standard, could I achieve it. The answer is ‘yes’.

As there was nothing I could do to help the operation – apart from relaxing – there seemed little point in doing anything else. I tell people that there are only two kinds of things that you can worry about; those over which you have control and those over which you have no control. For those things over which you have control, the answer is simple; change it so that there is nothing to worry about. For those things over which you have no control, there is nothing you can do, so there is no point in worrying about it – it achieves nothing.

Going to the operating theatre is the second kind; I have no control over the procedure, which means there is nothing I can do and so worrying about it will achieve nothing at all. Therefore, I simply relaxed and put everything into the hands of the surgeon and his team.

When they took me down to the operating theatre, they told me that my blood pressure was a bit low (although my memory from this time is a bit vague) and I told them that perhaps I was too relaxed. They injected the anaesthetic into my arm and shortly after that, I lost consciousness. The next thing I remember was someone telling me I was in the recovery room. It was all over and so I could relax. I did too. They became very concerned about me because my heart rate and blood pressure were so low, yet I was not concerned in the least; I was chilled out. It was over five hours before I woke up enough to hold a conversation and even then they continued to monitor me overnight.

So how is my self-esteem now? Very good. All of my friends and family supported me in every way they could. If I had any doubt about what people thought of me, it was resolved while I was in hospital. I am very grateful to them all. The hospital staff were excellent and I am grateful to them as well. Internally I know that – regardless of what they all say – my intrinsic value is just as high as it always was. Remember that self-esteem is a value that you put upon yourself. If you think that you have little value to others, your self-esteem is low. Learn to appreciate others and as you do, you will start to appreciate yourself. You are no better or worse than anyone else, yet you are unique and you have a unique and very valuable function here on earth; whether you know it or not. Do whatever makes you happy, because your purpose is to be happy. As Nike say, “Just do it”.

Source by William P Webb

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