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What R-E-S-P-E-C-T Means to Me

Apr 24

Posted by: ACHA
4/24/2013 12:56 PM  RssIcon

By Jon Ritchings, Jr.

I've been playing a lot of disc golf the last couple of weeks. Between the coach of the local high school team leading his kids through the middle of the course and interrupting play, the vandalism to the course, and the amount of garbage that people are leaving, it's given me pause to think about—why? I think it comes down to a lack of respect. All three of those things can be tied back to a lack of respect for the people who use the course on a regular basis. But, I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about the lack of respect everyone sometimes shows for themselves.

For me as a CHD patient, I really showed a lack of respect for my body coming out of this last surgery and I think it has cost me. I really pushed myself hard when I got out into the real world. I kept telling myself that I was far enough away from surgery to be able to do so. After all, it was nearly 10 weeks after my surgery before I was given the OK to drive.

Once I passed that threshold, I really went for it. The problem was that I spent a month in the hospital and this was only six weeks after getting out of the hospital. I thought at the time I was doing the right thing. Usually my “put your head down and plow through the work” attitude gets me where I want to go. However, by not consulting with anyone beforehand, I didn't respect the seriousness of the surgery, my doctors or myself. I had a goal in mind to run in our local Thanksgiving Day race and although I did that, I have really had nothing but trouble since.

So what do I mean when I say I didn't respect myself by pushing forward in this race? I mean I didn't let my body have enough time to heal properly. I did what so many of us have learned to do to get by in our lives. I pushed even when things hurt and I didn't feel up to it I kept pushing. Because of that lack of respect for what I had been through, I now spend every day with some kind of pain in my ribs and chest. Some days are better than others. On good days I only experience pain when I breathe deeply, but on bad days it is nearly constant.

Please take a lesson from me and respect yourselves. Give yourselves time to recover. I'm not saying don't push to obtain your goals. I'm saying be smart about setting and obtaining them and take it easy on yourself if you’re not getting to where you want to be at the pace you set for yourself.

Jon Ritchings, Jr., is a 40-year-old father who was born with pulmonary atresia and hypoplastic right heart syndrome. Although he has made a career in retail, he prefers to be outdoors kayaking and taking photos. Jon likes to draw inspiration from quotes and one of his current favorites is from Lao Tzu: “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”

Copyright ©2013 ACHA

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2 comment(s) so far...


Re: What R-E-S-P-E-C-T Means to Me

Thank you for that honest insight. I remember doing exactly the same when recovering from open heart surgery two and a half years ago and I totally agree with everything you said. Thank you.

By Eva on   4/25/2013 7:41 AM

Re: What R-E-S-P-E-C-T Means to Me

Hey Jon wise words. Its so important to be gentle with bodies and minds. I'm 4 months out of surgery and I have to remind myself to at times take it easy and don't push too hard. The body is a natural healer and needs its own time along with our support rather than abuse. Love your inspirational quote as well it says it all really. Thanks Cathryn

By Cathryn Lloyd on   5/6/2013 8:11 AM

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