A Wake Up Call not a Wake

“He was bitter and tearful, but he took the news that he was going to die calmly…” Isabel Collins

When they told me I had not had cancer, it knocked me off balance.  Now I cannot do anything.”  Philip Collins

Ordinary influenza, perhaps, or maybe even Swine Flu, but the dreaded big C is not the diagnosis we want to hear when we have lost our appetite. We’re very likely to lose our savoir-faire as well as our avoirdupois. 

When Englishman Philip Collins was told two years ago that he had gall bladder cancer and had only six months to live he chucked his job in, cashed up his pension and bought himself a Triumph motorcycle so he could enjoy the time he had left to him and try some new experiences. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article6716736.ece

When, a year later, living on what he thought was borrowed time, he got the galling news that the “inoperable tumour” was actually a somewhat less than fatal abscess in his gall bladder, he was thrown totally off balance. He had been prepared to die, and had planned his own funeral, which was to feature his new motorcycle as hearse.  Having reconciled himself to his early departure from this mortal coil he now had to totally re-readjust to the prospect of staying on it for sometime.

Now he has trouble preparing to live. He had bought his impending widow a Ford Focus. Focus is exactly what he is now having difficulty with. Welcome back Phil to the real world.

The ability to focus is one of the most important self-management skills. It enables us to realise dreams and achieve the goals.  Life events-or non-events-can cause us to lose our focus as if a stone had shattered the telescope we had so carefully calibrated to peer through.

Winning the Big Wednesday lottery-or watching the roulette wheel spin and your ball teetering on the edge of dropping into  a number somewhat less than three score and 10-rather knocks  the tripod off balance.

On the other hand, if they are not too overwhelming, some live or death events can sharpen the focus and help plot a new life passage.

In that category I’d place my recent coronary. Because the whole thing was out of the blue and the operation to stent open my two blocked coronary arteries was over within 5 hours of the diagnosed heart attack, I had little time for any real fear and indeed was an interested, if concerned, spectator of my own serious but only discomforting  medical episode (the angioplasty procedure is done while you are awake, the better to monitor the arterial drain unblocking process.)

Others, with more time to ponder gloomy news, have much more of a challenge. We know the power of aboriginal bone pointing. How many people, who have had the Western witch doctor point the mortality bone at them, have obligingly and obediently  proceeded to die within the allotted span of time?

Not Phil Collins.  Now he is very much alive he is suing the National Health Service. His real crisis now is an existentialist one-the transition from an impending wake to a surprise wake up call. Now he has the quotidian challenge of just staying alive.

 Blinks: 

Take the (free) How long have I got quiz http://www.thedeathquiz.com/?nz

Get some irreverent terminal advice:  George Carlin – On Death And Dying 

Listen to the other Phil Collins’ timely reminders:   another day in paradise

Cheer up with the Bee Gees – Stayin’ Alive (Full Version)

Lyall Lukey 19 July 2009   www.lukey.co.nz

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