Monday, July 27, 2009

Quality vs. Quantity

It takes all types to make the world go 'round, and how boring would life be if we all had the same views? Those were two of my dad's mother's favorite sayings. She was an incredibly open-minded woman, especially considering her age. And she's right - the world would be a very boring place if we all thought and did the same things. At the end of the day we each have to be able to live with our decisions and sleep well knowing we carried out our day according to our values, and not someone else's.

Probably one of the best places to meet those with differing opinions and backgrounds is the internet- an online forum I read and sometimes participate in is a prime example. We are all bound by a common theme: cystic fibrosis. Either we are a patient, a parent or someone who cares about a cystic. And though we all have this common denominator, everyone brings their own unique set of values and personal views to the table, which makes things very interesting.

There's one member who recently posted a situation in which he is planning to be taking a trip to England in October. His first time there, probably his first out of the country and perhaps even his first out of FL. He'll be staying with relatives, one of whom now has the swine flu. He's seriously thinking of canceling the trip because of this. Although his FEV1 (the test used to measure lung damage) is a whopping 106% - that of a "normal" person - he'd prefer not to expose himself to any danger and potential damage to his lungs.

Other members weigh in on his posting, some saying they would definitely not go, some would go regardless and others say wait a bit and see what the situation is like closer to the departure date. This is the beauty of a public forum - the variety of responses.

Although I have no right to be offended at his post I do find my hackles a bit raised at his flaunting of his perfect FEV1. There are so many people on the forum who are living with less than half of that, who are awaiting transplant (or who have decided to forgo the surgery and let go) that it seems in poor taste to be unduly worried about losing a few points from a score of 106%. Ah, I'm digressing a bit from my original point.....

............. which is quality vs. quantity. We are all entitled to our views, our concerns, and opinions and choices. When all is said and done we are accountable to only ourselves. When I was struggling with the decision to stop work and apply for disability one of the best pieces of advice I received was from a former doctor who said "I've never heard anyone say on their deathbed, 'gee, I wish I had worked more' ". That has stuck with me and one of the ways I weigh my decisions is by thinking about that scenario, morbid as it may sound: on my deathbed, when I look back at my life, will I be happy with what I did and what I avoided?

Save one or two exceptions I wouldn't change a thing. I travel, own a home, raised a family, have pets and pursue activities I enjoy, all of which make my life worth living. Most likely there are people who would raise eyebrows at some things. Gardening? Gasp! There are microorganisms that live in the soil and compost! Travel? Airports, viruses. Pets? Dander, germs. With anything there is risk as well as benefit. It is up to each of us to apply our own values to situations and come up with decisions that will make us comfortable. Fun balanced with caution.

Would I go to England, despite there being swine flu now? You bet. I'd take precautions, wash my hands like someone with OCD and enjoy myself. If there was an active case in the house at the time of my trip I'd stay somewhere else or possibly cancel, no sense in taking undue risk, but I prefer not to wrap myself in cotton wool. Has this shaved a few years off my life? Who knows? Maybe, maybe not. What I do know is that I enjoy my life and doing the things that make me happy and if that is the case, then I consider it a life well lived, regardless of the length.


Tina said...

Woo Hoo Very well said Kim !!!! Girl you really have your shit together and I love that I know you. Thanks for being so eloquent, honest and open.

Rock on with your bad self!

CowTown said...

Hey Kim,

Interesting pov. It didn't sink in (for me) about the whopping fev1, but you're right, it's damn high, which is awesome for him. I see it as everyone is scared at whatever fev1 that a few points lost is closer to none then they've ever felt. I agree that living your life is key! Once it's gone, it's gone.

Take care, and thanks for all your support and kindness. <3

Anonymous said...

I know if I work on it, I can get my FEV1 up to 350. Oh, wait. That's my blood glucose.