“Any planet is ‘Earth’ to those that live on it.” -Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
Normalcy is a very subjective concept. Some people find it’s normal to watch football on Sundays, while others can’t name you more than 3 NFL teams. In south Louisiana, we expect warm, humid summers and mild winters, while people in Canada may expect snow in early October. The thing about Normalcy is…we have control over it. If we want our Normal to be summers spent at a lake house or constantly traveling to various National Monuments or Parks, or if we want the suburban life while having a family and kids to come home to and be with, we can work towards that, set goals for ourselves, be our biggest criticizer and supporter. It’s in our hands, for the most part.
Health issues can obviously complicate these goals and can disrupt our sense of Normalcy. Before I was ever diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, it was normal for me to try new beer, new food, have a fairly open social schedule, not have any issues with working a normal job. Now, I have to be more wary of what I put in my body (though we all should to some extent). I may not be able to make certain social events just yet as my body is recovering (and it was much, much more difficult with active ulcerative colitis). I had issues with work some days, though I would suck it up as much as I possibly could (though at times, it was just nearly impossible and I had pushed my body to the brink). When life throws us a curveball (a health issue, a family tragedy, a career struggle), it’s important to have a plan, to remain positive, and to have people around us who can support us mentally. It’s most important to have the correct mentality, an often overlooked skill in today’s society, in my humble opinion.
I’m a little over 3 months out from the 3rd surgery, and it’s been quite a roller coaster. There have been times in the past 3 months where I’ve been in so much pain, but that’s part of the trial & error system I’m going through, testing if certain foods and drinks will work or if it’s too early and my body still hates them. It’s mentally tough at times because I’ve always been a foodie; I’ve enjoyed cooking, enjoyed trying new things, enjoyed lots of veggies and color on my plate, but I’ve had to sacrifice that for the time being (for the most part). Not a huge sacrifice in the grand scheme of life, just an adjustment.
I’ve had a small bout of internal inflammation at the surgical site that seems to be gone for now, but that’s always a risk with having a j-pouch. The goal is to just keep it as healthy as possible and to give my body a good 6-12 months to properly adjust to its new, shortened digestive system. I’ve definitely underestimated the process at times, and I’m re-learning what it truly means to be patient. Eventually, I’m hoping to figure out what my new normal will be. It seems to change weekly. Hopefully those changes will keep on the positive route, and my health will get better for years to come.
It’s been helpful being part of a few support groups on Facebook. I’ve been able to read about a lot of other people’s experiences with their j-pouches, ranging from people who haven’t had their pouch for much longer than myself, to people who’ve had their pouch for multiple years. One fact that I’m constantly reminded of is that everyone is affected differently. There are people who still have some issues now and then, while others have had hardly any issues for years and years. I’m hopeful I’ll be in the latter group, but I’m remaining realistic and taking things one step at a time.
Overall, I’m excited for the next year of my life. While my health may be physically and mentally challenging for a while, I’m looking forward to finding a new Normal. I haven’t been able to get in nearly as many hours at the poker table as I’d like to, but I’m hoping that’ll increase as I begin to feel better. Until I feel completely healthy and comfortable, I plan to stick with poker as my main source of income. Based on my past results over a large sample size, I’m confident I can make a good living with it for as long as I keep enjoying it. Though, it’s more than a source of income; it’s a passion. There’s true happiness in being passionate about what you’re doing day in and day out.
I don’t see poker any differently than someone who is attempting to start their own business, become an actor or singer or musician, or nearly any sort of entrepreneur. None of these have a guaranteed positive ROI (Return On Investment). But like any successful singer, actor, or businessman, you work hard at what you do, you put yourself in a position to succeed, and it can open your entire world to new possibilities.
Poker is a highly competitive field between professionals, and even with amateurs involved and participating in more and more tournaments and cash games. I’ve seen it since I started taking it seriously in my late teenage years. In some ways, it’s made me feel like a failure that I haven’t made a million dollars yet or won some large tournament, but those people who’ve been able to do that at such a young age are the exception. Not taking anything away from their talents, but it’s not easy to do considering all of the variables involved. Plus, if I would have come into money like that at such a young age, I don’t feel as if I would have been ready for it, looking back now. I’ve learned a lot about money management, mostly the hard way, over the past x number of years, and I’m better for it and much more prepared for the future. There are times when I see my “lack of success” as a failure and I feel old at 26, but I’ve been able to put that number into perspective a lot more lately. 26 is still young, and a lot of people don’t get their careers really going until they’re in their 30s, sometimes later. I’ll be ready when the times comes, and until then, I’ll just continue to work hard and surround myself with positive people who support me and who’ll be honest with me.
I do keep setting goals for myself outside of poker. I’d like to pursue my Strength & Conditioning certification again at some point. I’d like to open a business of some sort way down the road, or have a source of passive income. I’d love to write about something important and/or entertaining (something I need to practice more with this blog!). And I’m looking into a couple other smaller projects that will hopefully turn into something much bigger along the way. That’s not to say I’ll never practice Athletic Training again. I’m planning to keep up with my certification and CEUs, but I’m not going to put an employer in a tough position if I’m not feeling healthy and comfortable enough to work in the field. I’m just glad I have options at this point of my life.
I have a feeling that what I view today as Normal may not be what my Normal is in 5 years. Maybe not even in 3 years. But that’s the beauty of life, and improving skills, and setting and working towards goals. There’s always something to strive for, regardless of what your Normal is today, or what your goal of Normal is for yourself 10, 20, 30 years down the road.
“Normal is an ideal. But it’s not reality. Reality is brutal, it’s beautiful, it’s every shade between black and white, and it’s magical. Yes, magical. Because every now and then, it turns nothing into something.” -Tara Kelly, Harmonic Feedback