If asked if the current state of your heart disease is acceptable, how would you answer?
It’s a tough one; I know. Just yesterday I was asked this very question. “If, when we first met, your chest pain and quality of life was terrible, 10 being terrible, what number would you assign your quality of life now?” asked my super-hero of a doctor, Dr. Bairey-Merz.
Looking her straight in the face, I responded, “That’s a tough thing to quantify”.
How do you assign a number to the quality of your life? Of course, I understood the question. I realized that she needed a figure to determine where I am on my journey. How else is she to know what to try next.
Leaning back in my chair, I looked down at my hands and fiddled with my ring. Slowly raising my eyes, I assigned a number to my life.
“I estimate my quality of life currently to be a 3”. Her face relaxed a bit, but I saw no smile. “About 75% better than when we first met; would you agree?” she asked.
That’s when it occurred to me. Her face gave her away. This was the best it would ever be.
The Best Compared To What?
Every six weeks I visit my wonderful doctors. With each passing week, however, something very interesting has happened. My visits with both Dr. Bairey-Merz and the fabulous Dr. Margo Minissian focus more on managing my condition and less on curing me. ‘Curing me’…. Only now am I beginning to realize how stupid I was to think that I would be cured. After all, I have Microvascular heart disease. You can’t operate on the tiny vessels around your heart.
I know my life will not be returning to the old ‘normal’. To be sure, 75% better is better than 0% better. Even still, the problem isn’t so much in the number assigned to my quality of life as in having to assign a number.
It’s hard not to compare. But remember; comparisons do one of two things; they either make you feel bad because others have it better than you or make you feel better because others have it worse than you. Either way you lose.
So, I will stop comparing my current self to my old self. I will stop comparing what I could do then to what I can do now. I’ll stop comparing — period.
Call it a compromise if you will. But life is worth living. Nothing compares to that.