Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Power of the Tongue

Please do not read these next words as a slick attempt to get you to donate to my fund. I want to tell this story because out of absurdity, wisdom, life lessons and more can emerge...

The short story:  After my January "brush with death" (systemic sepsis, pneumonia and respiratory failure) the hospital charged my insurance company over $80,000.00 for my ICU care. Group Health adjusted the bill with the hospital and I was billed the balance, which was over $5,300.00. I had asked for financial consideration towards the remainder of my bill by filling out a long application as well as providing profit & loss statements for my business as well as personal and corporate tax returns for 2011 and 2013. 

After reviewing my application for help, I was told "No", I would not receive any help whatsoever. The reason? Because I had earned a good wage in 2012, I should be able to make a good wage now. I told the adjuster, "Ma'am, I am a public speaker who has lost half of his tongue..."

She interrupted me and said, "Yes, but you made a good wage back in 2012 and you should be able to do that now..." 

I asked her, "Ma'am, if I were a professional baseball player that lost his throwing arm in an accident, do you think that might affect my ability to earn a living playing baseball?" My logic didn't get through and I realized that I was getting more stressed as I continued to try to get the woman to understand. It was at that moment that I realized I needed to let go.

I tell you all of that to say this... You cannot force benevolence, and sometimes, you have to let go and realize that there is a bigger lesson to be learned in what we are traveling through. I tell others that God will provide for our needs, but I wasn't believing that for myself. There I was, trying to convince the woman that I couldn't earn as much as I had before and I started to believe my own words. If I cannot see a way out of this, then I have truly convinced myself that I will fail. My words direct my thoughts, and my thoughts direct my actions... I was believing my own words.

I am not talking about speaking reality into existence or quantum physics. What I am trying to say is that we are prone to believe our own negative talk. If I believe I am damaged goods and I am unlikely to earn an income capable of supporting myself, I will make choices that will support that belief, or just stop trying. On the other hand, if I believe that losing half of my tongue has given me a new vantage point in life or that the lessons I have learned will make me a better public speaker with a more amazing story to tell, then I will act accordingly. Our words have power.  That was last week.

This week, as I write this, I am just days away from leaving for Des Moines, Iowa, to teach my injury treatment seminar with my lead assistant, Charity Lisherness. Have I fully returned to my old self, able to speak with a resounding voice that fills the room? No. Does my message have more intensity and is it delivered by a man that has a changed view on life? Absolutely. 

Truth be told, as I write this, I am also in a great deal of pain. The pain is different from a few weeks ago. Until this past Friday, March 28th, pain had been building in the left sublingual part of my tongue. I say "tongue", but it is the part that was rebuilt from my forearm. How could I have pain there? It is the same spot that the cancer had returned so many times before. I had my local ENT take a look at it and he was concerned. So concerned that he referred me to my surgeon at Virgina Mason. 

When I felt that pain, in that place, I grew more and more fearful. A near-paralyzing fear. Had the cancer returned? My mind was spinning and traveling through every possible outcome. In the days before March 28th, I changed my life insurance policy so that my girls would all receive equal proceeds as beneficiaries. I went on Amazon.com to order software so that I could write my will. My mind was racing. 

On the 28th, I traveled up to Virginia Mason for a biopsy. With the suspect area so difficult to get to, I had to have general anesthesia and have the work done in an operating room. It wasn't a simple tissue excision. It seemed like only a moment had passed from when I climbed onto the operating table until I began waking up in the recovery room. The words from the nurse sitting by my side were the first sounds I heard as I emerged from the haze of anesthesia. She kept repeating, "You need to breathe, Robert... breathe... take a deep breath for me... Robert? I need you to breathe..." Apparently I was so relaxed I wasn't breathing much at all and the oxygen sensor was picking up dangerously low blood levels. Breathing deeper became easier as I became more and more conscious. When I finally felt completely awake, it was then that my surgeon walked around the corner and with a big smile he said, 

"There is no cancer. You are cancer free." 

Wow. Those words can bring tears to your eyes, peace to your mind and a drop in blood pressure, all at the same time. But there it was, my pain wasn't from cancer. 

Apparently the tissue is not healing well due to the effects of radiation and the lack of circulation in my "new tongue" impedes the healing process. I am still waiting for confirmation from my physicians, but it looks like the suggested treatment is hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Not once, but 5-days-a-week for 6-weeks for a total of 30-treatments. Virginia Mason is said to have the largest hyperbaric chamber in North America.

So now I sit at home in pain recovering from my biopsy. But this pain is worth putting up with. After all, I am cancer free. I can handle anything.

~Robert B. Haase,
A Blessed Man

1 comment:

  1. God Bless!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing this!!!!!!