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Posted on 13. August 2010

Lead by Example

By Kris McFalls

Leading by example: it’s a great piece of advice and way of life.  I’ve tried to do that with my kids.  Encouraging them to learn about their own disease and be willing to talk about it with others.  I taught them that talking with others not only increases awareness, it keeps them healthier because friends don’t expose immune deficient friends when they are sick; at least in theory.  My kids know the name of their disease, can rattle off their medications and dose, can say the words gamma globulin three times fast, and know to dial 911 then mom in case of an emergency.  When it comes to their health, there really isn’t much I don’t know about my kids.  But, as I recently found out, leading by example means do as I do, not do as I teach.

My youngest son, Keegan came home for a precious few days after his most recent semester at Brigham Young University before he was to start his summer job in Utah.  Not wanting to lose a minute of the time we had together, I asked Keegan to accompany me on a routine rheumatology appointment.  Not only did Keegan readily agree, he actually went into the appointment with me.  It was a strange reversal of roles when my son started asking the doctor several questions.  I would like to think his main concern was me, but what he really wanted to know was, “Are her problems genetic?”

The drive to our next stop started a bit quiet.  Both of us were obviously contemplating the role reversal and the knowledge we had both just attained.  After a few minutes, I started to apologize to Keegan.  I told him, “Gosh, Keeg, I’m really sorry.  I didn’t realize you had so many questions.”  To which my quick witted son replied, “I didn’t realize you had so many problems!”

A mother’s first instinct is clear: protect your children at all costs!  I thought I was protecting mine by not worrying them.  I justified it by thinking Keegan is away at college, there was nothing he could do in an emergency situation anyway.  I fooled myself into thinking I was protecting him from worry so he could concentrate on his studies.  The role reversal, however, forced me to look at things from a different angle.  What if something happened to me?  I have no spouse, I live alone with two dogs, who would my doctors call if there was a problem?  The dogs are cute, but, they have no opposable thumbs, they couldn’t answer the phone.  I do have my boys both highlighted in my cell phone as ICE, in case of emergency, but what would my boys tell them?  It was at that point I realized it was time to open up.  My boys are full grown men and perfectly capable of handling anything life throws at them.  My attempts to keep Keegan from worrying about me actually made him worry more.

I’ve always felt my boys have taught me more about life than I could teach them.  Keegan taught me a very good lesson about myself that day.  He taught me to walk my talk and lead by example.

Have you learned to lead by example with your family and friends?  Scroll down to leave a comment about this blog.

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Categories: Life With IG

Comments (5) -

Piper Redman
9:23 AM on Friday, August 13, 2010

Kris I commend you on what you do.  You got me and my family through all the questions in the beginning when switching from IVIG to Sub-Q Vivaglobin and I thank you for that!  I always try to stay positive for my daughter (who is 9 now, we started when she was 2) through leading by example.  I have degenerative disc disease and have undergone 2 back surgeries and she always asks how do I keep going to work/taking care of the house/and handling her infusions every week?  I always say what choice do we have but to keep going, this is the life we were given and we have to live it to the fullest.  Sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves or saying we just can't do it is not an option.  She is a very strong willed little girl who lets nothing stop her, not even her CVID!  Even through the migraines from time-to-time she still keeps going and makes sure she doesn't miss school or riding her horse.  We as parents must always lead by example.

Matt Hansen, D.P.T.
12:19 PM on Friday, August 13, 2010

Great blog, yet again, Kris. My Dad taught me by example to complement others for their accomplishments and to recognize a job well done. You've raised a wonderful family under difficult circumstances. Aren't families great?! We can learn so much from the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly circumstances that present themselves. What's most important, is how we confront the trials together and what we learn from them; that ultimately defines the type of people that we are, as well as our perspective on life. Every moment a blessig . . .

Linda Riley
10:39 PM on Saturday, August 14, 2010

Kris a very positive and uplifting blog.  I learned from my father and grandmother to always see the good in everyone and to complement and praise others for a job well done, they were the grounding factors in my life, unfortunately they were taken from me way too soon.  

I too raised my two boys alone and it was a challenge with my illness and it was a struggle to keep working.  Not all families are wonderful.  As my boys matured, they took no interest in getting checked for gamma globulin enemias.  They were lucky and not sick often.  I lost my oldest boy to cancer in 2006 and I wonder if this illness did not have something to do with him going so quickly.

This blog is great because I realize I am not alone and others have gone through what I have.  I may have been born with my illness, but back then they didn't have the fancy testing they do today.  This illness is real and they can't say it's all in my head or I'm just making it up.  My mother wouldn't deal with it and told everyone I had "Aids"  Are families wonderful???
But I do agree, every moment is a blessing......  

Shauna
9:58 AM on Thursday, August 19, 2010

This highlights a very interesting transitional phase in our lives as we move into having adult children.  When they are younger we work hard to protect the innocence of their childhood and give them the freedom from worry that makes growing up so fun.  However, as our children get older, they reach a point where it is instructive to realize that their parents have ongoing challenges.  When we share those challenges, it opens up a dialogue for love and support.  I would think that IG concerns only intensify the urgent nature of that interchange.  I found this blog thought provoking and insightful.  Thanks Kris!

nynah mason
2:01 AM on Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thanks, Kris, for helping me see things from a different angle.  My "kids" are grown (the youngest is 27) but I'm uneasy with the idea of them worrying about me.  For this reason I have been hesitant to tell them about my most recent diagnosis and still have no idea of when or how to tell them.  However, your article has made me start thinking about this dilema.  They do, indeed, need to know in the not too distant future.  Thanks for the though provoking post!

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