What’s The Plan?

When I woke after four months of my sepsis coma, all my memories of my past life had vanished. That’s 35 years of consciousness, deleted at a stroke. Oh. The first thing I saw was my wife’s face – but I didn’t recognise her. I had to ask her who she was. Nic re-introduced herself to me. She explained to me what had happened, and it took me a few days to take all that on board. Then, my mind turned to the future. Just how disabled was I going to be and what did that mean for the second half of my life? How would that affect the people I loved? Could we cope together?

How it all works

There was a ton of practical stuff Nic had to deal with. Spookily, in the weeks before my Sepsis, I’d prepared a file on our computer titled ‘How It All Works’, containing all the essential information about our domestic, financial and business arrangements. Something in the cosmic stratosphere obviously prompted me to put it all down on paper, just in case I became incapacitated – as I did. I guess to some extent we all do this. Those of you lucky enough to have pensions, life assurance and such probably have the key facts written down somewhere – but how far do we take it?

Increasing our resilience

For example, could we extend our planning beyond the normal parameters of writing a will, broadening it out to create step by step plans for other significant life events? I’m thinking about things like bereavement, depression, cancer, relationship breakdown. Because my sense is that, if we could, we could substantially increase our resilience to the kind of shocks that can completely knock us off balance. Not only that, but we could reduce the insecurity we feel about the future, by making detailed plans for it. It might seem a touch ghoulish, but we all make plans for our day at the office, for our weekends, for our holidays – so why shouldn’t we map out how we’d prefer things to be in more critical circumstances?

Reacting positively to setbacks

We all know how expensive and time-consuming a simple car accident can be – let alone any physical consideration. That’s why we have car insurance. What I’m proposing is that in the same way, we might at least take some time to think in advance about how we could react positively to setbacks. Aged 56, with my medical history, I’m statistically most likely to be at risk from high blood pressure and possibly diabetes – so what’s my plan? Am I acting now, and if not, why? And how am I intending to prepare myself emotionally for the fact that my kids will be leaving home soon, now they’re kind of well… grown-up?

More in control

My point is, it’s good to think ahead, and we can strengthen our resilience by honestly confronting the issues we face. We can be positive about this, and by making plans we can feel like we’re more in control. It even makes perfect sense to write our ideas down like we would at work, and to share them with the important people who are most affected.

OK and what else?

5 things I’ve done this week to boost my resilience:

  1. Drove to the Norfolk coast to have lunch by the sea – because a change of scenery is good for the soul.
  2. Cut down on my exposure to breaking news – because I can’t change that stuff or even try to control it.
  3. I got a new prosthetic arm device that makes it easier for me to type – because none of us needs to put up with pain.
  4. Bought whiteboards for my home office – because that makes it easier for me to remember stuff.
  5. Broke my Ted Talk speech down into chunks I can easily remember – because I want it to be simply brilliant