Teaching Profession Opinion

Make a Plan, But Don’t Expect It to Work

By Starr Sackstein — May 26, 2019 3 min read
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It was all worked out. The desk was cleared, and the calendar was emptied, the to-do list crossed out.

In my head, the plan was set, and I was ready to take care of the other things I cleared my plate for.

When I showed up at the hospital, everything was going as planned. Despite my growing irritability from not eating, I was quickly hooked up to an IV to maintain my blood sugar and hydration.

Tucked away in a back corner of the preoperative area of the hospital, we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And finally about 30 minutes after my surgery was supposed to start, we heard that the case before me was running long and that my doctor would be out in 15-20 minutes to get prepared for my surgery.

My husband was starting to get irritable, too. He hadn’t eaten before we left the house either because he was trying to be compassionate and didn’t want to eat in front of me thinking that when I went in, he would eat then.

We watched a lot of television, History’s Mysteries, and waited some more.

At about 4:15, four hours and 15 minutes after we arrived, we finally got more news. My surgery was rescheduled for 5 p.m. There were apologies made but with them came assurances.

“OK, it’s only 45 more minutes. We can wait.”

I was about ready to send my husband home to eat. “I’m going in soon. Go.”

“No, it’s just a little longer, I’ll wait til you go in.”

And then at around 5:45, we see my surgeon looking for a chair to drag into the section we had called home for the last half a day. Another emergency came, and the OR was needed. They rescheduled me again for 10 p.m., and my doctor said he didn’t feel right doing the surgery then, so my case was canceled.

I was livid and starving.

My entire life for the next month hinged on this procedure happening as planned.

We went back and forth with possible dates to reschedule at that time to no avail. The options he presented me with were not going to work for me and the alternative of living with the issue I’ve had was no longer an option, either.

As we left the hospital, hangry, I felt dejected.

The rest of the weekend was spent returning texts and emails of recovery well wishes with the updated information that my surgery didn’t happen. Everyone was sympathetic and understood my frustration.

And life went on.

I came back to work on Monday, despite my out-of-office messages already being scheduled on the phone and email. Since I’m always trying to see the bright side, I couldn’t help but think that this was an opportunity for me to get into classrooms and do the work I love best about my job.

And I did, somewhat.

Then there were other fires that came up that needed to be put out, and I couldn’t help but feel like Dante from “Clerks” ... “I wasn’t even supposed to be here today.”

But what could I do?

The older I get, the more I realize that we have to seize every moment that we have. Being planned and organized is important, but being flexible and open to possibility is essential to living a happy and well-adjusted life. Plans will not always go as expected, and if we can’t bounce back, we hurt ourselves.

As educators, parents, and people, most of us live our lives around the events put before us. Emergencies happen, and other unexpected curves occur outside of our control. If we want happy lives, we have to stop trying to control everything and try to go with the flow.

Ultimately, I have a new date for the surgery and I had the opportunity to take care of a few more things that would have come up either way.

Everything will work out, in this situation and in all of the other ones. Our health and families must come first in our lives, not our jobs. Our work is important, but our relationships and well-being are more important.

This was an excellent reminder.

How can we take the time to appreciate the unexpected curves to live our lives to the fullest? Please share

*picture made with pablo.com

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