Have you ever sat by the bed of a loved one night after night after night not knowing if they would live to see the next day? Sit there so long you had no idea what day it was? Cry for so long that your Blackberry actually ran out of power, and you didn't care, didn't notice? When the technology that puts us all in touch 24/7 is finally turned off, it gives you plenty of time to think. And if you've ever sat bedside, you already know: you think a LOT.
No one can fathom the loss you fear. No matter how many "other" people have lost loved ones. This isn't "other" people. It doesn't matter how many have had a similar experience. Mine (and yours) are personal. Your own. Who could possibly understand? The world is full of kind people, but not one of them are in my shoes today. Just me. Just a guy who finally had his Blackberry turned off.
I'm not too religious. I'm not leaving my hope in God's hands. Too much of a risk. I'm not taking any chances. It's a big world and lots of people asking for help. Might it be a busy day for God?
I couldn't bring myself to be a believer in my worst moments. Seemed like if there were a God, he or she would know I spent 50 years not asking for any favors. 50 years not really believing.
This month has been filled with reflection and questions. I don't think I'll be finding a religious answer anytime soon. And I deeply appreciate that many people can and do. If that makes you feel better... well... amen. I mean that.
As a caretaker for the past 20 years and having been in the hospital for four straight days, I've seen for myself, firsthand, that our health care system is broken. It doesn't work for the doctors. It doesn't work for the patients. It doesn't work for the insurance companies. I don't need to be "bedside" to know that though.
After four days of very little sleep, I've taken a break to come home, take a nap, kiss my kids and write. The writing comes easy. It always does. But after a long and well-chronicled successful career, I also came home to go back to my "day job," because I still have to. Even now. It never mattered how successful I was or am... chronic poor health isn't affordable in this country. I still work as hard as I did in my twenties to pay those bills. Six books, four magazines, and three companies I've owned... all a success. That's not enough. And so I work.
The truth is I love what I do. I create my own good fortune. My good fortune is barely enough when bad health comes knocking. And its been knocking for two decades. And in these difficult economic times having the ability to rub two sticks together and run a successful business gives me great comfort.
But I can't help but notice all the damage around me: my previously successful friends and peers laid off and out of work in their 50s, just when they thought they had it made. The Fortune 1000 pays well when you reach the C-Suite. Nice life... until you lose your job. As a very wise friend and mentor told me once, you can love a good company, but that company will never love you back.
I've come to see what that means to many. It turns out my grandmother was right. All the success one can enjoy is nothing without good health. Good health isn't for sale. Money can't buy it. And without good health care when you need it, people discover very quickly what's important. Something isn't working.
We'll all continue to debate politics. And we should. I'm relatively sure we can all agree to disagree. But don't wait to be sitting bedside to notice that health care in this country isn't what it should be. Don't spend two decades of your life trying realize it's broken -- for everyone. Your mom. Your wife. Your kids. You. We're all temporarily healthy. Don't take that for granted. And while you're enjoying your good health and while you have the energy, let's make sure we keep working on fixing our broken system. Today.