Things Didn’t Go As Planned Autism Stories
You have a lot to sit and think about when you spend the night in the hospital, like I did last week. How did I get here? What will I do if they find something wrong? What do I need to do to not be in this spot again? What would happen to my family if I don’t fix things?
I’d like to say I figured it all out laying in the bed watching Hulu until about 3 am, but I didn’t. The facts are these, over Thanksgiving Break doctors think I had a heart attack. The reason I had been nauseous, not eating, and vomiting, that was stomach ulcers. Later the next day, they took me to do a special CT of my heart and lungs. The point was to determine what happened, and is it going to happen again? If my heart was okay, we could begin treating the ulcers. I was supposed to have the test that morning, but didn’t until almost one o’clock that afternoon. I couldn’t have the test until my heart rate was below 60 and stayed that way for a significant amount of time. They administered meds that were supposed to slow my heart down. That didn’t work. Why? Because like most school principal I was laying there in the bed connected to all kinds of machines and still had my phone on and up.
The doctor, my wife, and nurse determined the cause of my issues. Stress. I let a lot of things get to me. In fact, I describe my work style as someone who passionately attacks their job with a reckless abandon of concern for their own body a’la Mick Foley. So, um… that has to stop. I am not going to say you shouldn’t be passionate about your work. Do that! You have to be passionate but focus that passion and energy. Basically, be selective over what we stress out about or care about. I have been reading a book, by Mark Manson, that talks about what we need to stress out about. It discusses developing your values, the things that are most important to you. Think about what is most important to you and be passionate about those things. See, that’s easier said than done. We get bombarded by so many different things all day from social media, television, and other media. That makes it ROUGH to try and stay focused on what matters. But knowing your values has merit and will impact how you perform at home and at work. I told you this story to tell you this one. Give me a moment to Six Degrees of Separation the two together to make my point.
My Assistant Principal asked me to answer some reflective questions about her for a class she was taking. One of the questions said, “What are some ways she could improve as an administrator?” Most of the time when posed with this question it gets answered the same way. Figure what your weaknesses are, and do your best to build efficacy in that area. I say, PASS, that’s not the best way to improve as an administrator. For my assistant principal, I said,”Skip your weakness and focus on your strengths.” Spend time coming up with a list of values that really really reallllllly matter to you. Without a strong list of values or beliefs you will come to school each day, run your building, but not getting anywhere. It’s like being a hamster on a wheel. You will work hard and run down.
It took me five years as an AP and two years as a Principal to start really narrowing down a list of things I valued. This is super important. If you don’t know what you value, you will spend your days caring about too many things. If you give an “OH FUDGE” (Shameless Christmas Story Reference) about too many things you will burn out, not be effective and find yourself strapped to machines in a hospital, on a Tuesday afternoon, worrying the SNOT out of your wife.
Once you know what you value, work hard each day to model those things. When you do, that’s when you will best be able to inspire and lead others. People who have the same values as you will gravitate towards you. Those are the people you want on your team. So to sum up. Know what to give a fudge about. Write them down & do your best to model them each day. If it ain’t on that list or connected to it somehow, let it go. Once, you have your team take time to learn as much as you can from them. Play to your strengths, and surround yourself and build your team with people who have the same values as you. (Not necessarily the same skills.) Have a team with a variety of skills learn from them and delegate to them. It will make your job easier, move your team forward, and keep you from stressing out.
Later Tuesday afternoon, I went to have a CAT scan of my heart and lungs. Truth be told it was about four in the afternoon before we received the results. I was sweating bullets, thinking that it was bad, they are developing a plan, and I may have to have surgery. The scan came back clear. My heart was running like a machine. The issue was stress. I have to find ways to relax and calm down. We started treating the stomach ulcers with a ton of meds. I am hoping that if I work on chilling out and take the medicine like I’m supposed to, the ulcers will improve or go away. I really do not know how that works. I am not a scientist. All I know is I have to take a ton of antibiotics that require me to eat. When I eat, I throw up. The nausea and the vomiting everyday are improving. I am hoping some of what I said makes sense and that someone can learn from my mistakes. It may not always feel like it, but we matter to a lot of people. When it feels like you don’t, remember someone’s therapist knows all about you. So take care of yourself. Focus on what’s important, relax, and surround yourself with things that make you happy.