Friday, October 21, 2011

Leave It Alone and It's Gonna Get Worse by Richard Morreale

Leave it alone and it's gonna get worse. I've been thinking a lot lately about the many lessons that I learned during the treatment of a number of major health issues I suffered over the last few years and how those lessons relate to not only handling health problems but also to handling negative situations in our personal or business life.

Leave it alone and it's gonna get worse. How do I know? Well, it was January in 200I. I was working as a Project Manager on a contract with the Home Office in England. It was a critical, 600 million dollar, time sensitive project that was already 6 years late when I was asked to take it on. The client wanted me to either deliver it or cancel it. You might have worked on those kinds of projects in the past - long hours with very few weekends off, living out of a suitcase, getting home to see my wife not as often as I would have liked, loads of challenges, loads of communication issues and 43 police Chiefs that I had to keep happy. Just a little stress. My team and I decided to deliver it so we put a plan in place to do just that.

It was during this time in 2001 that I realized something was wrong. I started having symptoms that concerned me a little but should have concerned me a lot. Rather than go into great detail about what the symptoms were it had quite a lot to do with the excessive number of times I went to the bathroom during the day and the excessive number of times that I woke up to go during the night.

Also, another symptom I had was when I had to go, I had to go, period. I had some embarrassing times in the center of London where there is a dearth of bathrooms. At any rate, I kept kidding myself saying that I was probably suffering from a kidney infection. Then, additional symptoms showed up - blood in my urine and I still kept putting off going to the doctor. I didn't go until October 2003. That was over 2 years of putting it off.

It was October 23, 2003. It was a typical overcast cool October day in London. It was 9:15 in the morning and my wife and I were sitting across the desk from my doctor. After a few pleasantries, he turned to me and said, Richard, you have cancer. Well, when you hear the 'c' word - Cancer - you immediately think of the 'd' word - Death. Also, because of the length of time I had kidded myself about the symptoms, tests showed that my cancer which originally had started in my bladder had spread from my bladder to lymph nodes in my groin. From early 2001 until October 2003, I had left it alone and what happened? It got worse - really worse. But you know what, I still didn't pay attention to the lesson.

Leave it alone and it's gonna get worse. How do I know? It was in July of 2004 in Phoenix, Arizona. As an aside, It was hot. People say, but it's a dry heat. I tell them I'm not talking about whether it's wet or dry, I'm talking about heat and it was hot. I was attending my first National Speakers Association convention. I had been given the all clear from my Bladder Cancer in May 2004 and I was, obviously, very pleased. It was at that convention that I first noticed I was suffering from a shortness of breath. I fooled myself and attributed it to my Cancer Radiotherapy treatment I had received. And for the next 3 years that's what I continued to tell myself. By September 2007, however, I was suffering from shortness of breath when I exerted myself the least little bit. I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without having trouble breathing. I couldn't walk from my house to my office which was only 100 feet or so without the same problem. It finally came to a head while I was !

taking a couple of weeks looking at property to buy in North Carolina. I was having trouble walking through the houses and up and down stairs. And one day during the two weeks, I believe I had a heart attack. I say I believe I had one because I left it alone. I didn't go to the doctor until I got back home to England. When I finally went to the Doctor, I was told that my Aortic Valve was not opening and closing properly and not only that, but 3 of my arteries were just about closed up. I remember my Egyptian heart surgeon saying to me, 'Richard, if you don't have your valve replaced and bypass surgery, and have that done immediately, you may have 6 to 12 weeks to live. There again, I had left it alone, kidded myself into thinking that it was just a temporary condition and would go away on its own and my condition just got worse.

So, what's the lesson? Well, I'm sure you've figured it out by now. But if you haven't, here it is - leave it alone and it's gonna get worse.

I'm talking about almost any negative situation you face. A situation you're facing at the office. A situation you're facing in your personal life. Or a medical situation you might be facing. If you leave it alone it's gonna get worse. So, the questions I have for you are these. What situation are you leaving alone? What situation in your life should you be doing something about but aren't? What situation in your business should you be doing something about but aren't? Could it be a personal relationship that really isn't working? A job that you know is wrong for you? Could it be your relationship with your boss? Could it be your finances or your weight or your smoking or your health or whatever else that you are putting off doing something about? Well, whatever it is, my suggestion is to do something about it now. Because remember this - leave it alone and it's gonna get worse.