"What now?"

"What now?"

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Aug 12, 2015 3:34 pm

All of us have endured something terrible. And there is a certain point in the process where we stop fighting and say to ourselves "what now?" How do I live with this? How do I navigate this new life with this new body or this new family or this spouse, parent or child that is a different person than they were? How do I do this? What now?

And we don't ask that question just once, but many times. At least that's the case for me.

In 1979, this 33-year-old man became a quadriplegic. After the despair and depression, I asked that question. And over the years, I was able to answer it.

In 1989, my wife left and I was devastated, isolated, lonely-and terrified. And I asked that question. Same results.

Like all of us, there have been terrible things and wonderful things in my life. But now as I age, I must ask that question again. Last year I gave up driving. Partly because of PTSD and I was becoming hyper reactive. And partly because my balance is not good anymore and I felt unsafe behind the wheel. What now?

I have been doing my radio show: "Voices in the Family" on WHYY FM, Philadelphia's NPR affiliate for 30 years. How much longer can I do this? Not much as my body and brain are getting tired. I experience more dysreflexia, more pulmonary problems and so on. My life has changed and is changing.

What now? It doesn't matter what stage of life or what the crisis is. It still the same question-how do we live with what we have to live with?

I could live in fear of a deteriorating body and a shortened life expectancy. And I will. Hopefully not often, but I am blessed and cursed to have a mind which sometimes takes me to hell!

I could live with gratitude for everything I have-all the love in my life and my access to the beauty of nature. And I will. Hopefully often.

But my most for friend wish in response to that question is that I want to devote my energy, intellect and spirit to trying to make the world a better place-one human at a time. And if I/we can do that, it will help get us out of our head with our negative future predictions or our ruminations about the past. Moreover, making the world a better place will make us feel better about ourselves and the lives we live.

I'm really curious about how you have answered the question: "what now?"


Re: "What now?"

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Aug 19, 2015 3:28 pm

there have been 300 hits to my recent post but no responses. That means to me that all of you have asked that question of yourselves. And all I can do is guess that perhaps you were looking for answers about what to do in the wake of tragedy.

I can answer this for each one of you who have asked the question "how can I live with this?" The answer is simple: pay attention. Because with very few exceptions we do live with it. We don't want to, we may feel like victims of some terrible injustice, but we live with it. What are the choices? We could live with resentment or self-pity but we could also live with this simple truth that this is now our lives.

A few years ago I had a pretty severe skin breakdown on my butt. I went to my physiatrist for treatment. He saw that at its widest it was 3 cm and he told me that I would have to stay off it for 30 days! Of course I was devastated and challenged him: "how could you possibly know it would take 30 days?" He told me that wounds to the skin, if the environment is healthy, heal at a rate of 1 mm a day. And then I wondered about wounds to our heart and soul. How long do they take? And how do we keep that environment healthy?

And then he gave me a patch to cover the wound with. Again, I challenged him saying I thought wounds needed oxygen to heal – why would we prevent it from getting air? Again, with great wisdom he explained that all of the oxygen my wound needed was in the blood not in the air. As a matter of fact, he explained, everything my wound needed to heal was already in my body.

All I had to do was keep the pressure off and have faith that my body (broken heart) was taking care of the healing process.

please take care

Re: "What now?"

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Aug 26, 2015 11:51 am

it looks like I am about to have a "what now" experience. Next month I will has been doing my radio show ("Voices in the Family"-whyy.org/voices)for 30 years! Kind of an amazing milestone as very few radio shows last 30 years. I've also been a quadriplegic for 35 years and I just had my 69th birthday. Lots of years involved here.
But I cannot continue doing a weekly show much longer. And the radio show has been the linchpin of my entire career. So shortly after I give up the radio show, everything changes. What now?

From the moment I started working, I have been busy. Very busy. I don't know if that will continue. I don't think I want it to continue. I don't know. There are many "I don't no's" about my future. So, what now?

As soon as I make these changes in my life, I will ask that question. And I look forward with hope and anxiety to sharing with you the answer to that question.

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