A President's Reflections

Good Health in 09!

Posted on December 24, 2008

I haven’t posted anything to my blog in over a week and you might have thought I had given up on the thing.  However, the reason I haven’t written is more insidious and microscopic than waning interest.  It was Mycoplasma, the bacteria that causes pneumonia. What had been merely a bad cold turned into bronchitis and then full-fledged pneumonia.  The onset of the latter was like being run over by a train.  Actually, a train might have felt better.

I find myself ten days later on the mend, though still with no energy and little appetite.  But the whole episode made me reflect on the nature of illness.  I had never missed eight days of work in my life nor suffered anything worse than a couple of athletic-related knee procedures, so this was humbling.  The psychological response to illness was fascinating (I can say now): the closing in of the world to smaller time frames and questions (Will this bout of fever break soon? Can I manage at least three hours of sleep with this lung pain? Is this a day I finally feel good enough to shower and dress?).

Even as I improved it was hard to focus on work e-mail for more than 30 minutes, to have any kind of meaningful conversation, or to focus on something other than the state of my symptoms.  I think I imagined that even when very ill, people can somehow transcend their physical state through the power of their mind.  But the link between the two is so strong and the body trumps all when fighting off illness or suffering the side effects of the cure.

What I came away with is tremendous empathy for those who struggle with chronic illness.  We had a recent dinner with a friend undergoing treatment for cancer and he spoke openly about the debilitating physical impact.  But he also went onto to talk about all sorts of other things and to engage in the conversation despite his physical discomfort.  I am amazed at how he does it.

I was also touched in the last week by the kindness of all those who dropped off food, offered to help, and covered for me as I wreaked havoc with my schedule.  Ed and John from Operations came over to shovel at one point and even sang me a Christmas carol from outside the backdoor!  Thank you to all for the concern  and support!

When someone wishes me “Good Health!” in the New Year, it is a blessing I will receive with new found ardor.

Happy holidays to you all and much good health for the new year.

Paul

3 thoughts on “Good Health in 09!

  1. Jason Mayeu says:

    Glad to hear you are on the mend. Hope you were able to spend some quality time with family and friends at the holiday while enjoying some of the great foods of the season. Cheers. See you in 2009.

  2. Lin Li says:

    My grandma used to say that a “terrible” illness before the coming new year will wash way all the bad things in the past year and bless you with happiness on your brand journey to another promising year!
    2009 is the year of bull in Chinese culture, so Happy Bull Year!!!!!!
    (Bull is pronunced as “New” in Chinese, by the way.)

  3. Paul Leblanc says:

    Thank you both! Lin, if your grandma was right, 2008 had more bad things than I realized and my pneumonia must have thoroughly washed them away…

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