Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

Final Work Day

Well, today is the last day that I will officially function as a licensed clinical professional counselor. All this week I’ve been working with a few of the clients to whom I provide counseling services as well as consultative services. Many have been gracious and offered kind words and prayers for my upcoming open-heart surgery. I had one individual tell me, “Bob, there’s no reason for you to rush back as much as we enjoy your services!” This of course made me wonder are my clients more insightful than I? Either way it doesn’t matter because I greatly appreciate their insight, their confidence in sharing it, their graciousness in their concern, and value the connection and relationship we have made. 

At 5:00 o’clock PM today, Friday, January 27th 2023, I’ll put a pin in Bob Zima Counseling and Consulting and pivot towards thinking about myself, my health, my future. At 6:00 PM today I have an appointment for a therapeutic, full body, deep tissue massage. I cannot think of any better way than to start to pivot and focus on myself other than getting a massage. 

Tomorrow my family start to descend upon the city of Chicago from points West and South. Right after picking up family members, we will head to the hospital for some additional testing required for the surgery. Then it will be back to the house for casual rest and relaxation during which time we will eat, drink, be merry, play games, watch TV, and sleep. 

Having that insight about myself I knew the most difficult times of this process were going to be the Saturday, Sunday, Monday before the surgery. So, I’ve chosen to surround myself with those whom I love, those who bring me happiness and joy, and we’ll make every attempt to just simply relax and hang out. 

Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

Runnin’ The Gauntlet

Welcome to my Heart 2 Heart Series featuring existential reflections of the narratives of my heart stories and those of my children and how these stories impact me, my wife, family & friends. Glad you have joined me on this introspective journey.

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One week and counting. Things are really starting to get real

Biggest concern I have these days is, “Will the surgery be postponed?”

Imagination is one of the most powerful cognitive processes we humans leverage to helps us make sense of the world and make plans to manage the “Bullshit of Life.” I’m an incredibly imaginative guy. So, you can imagine how many different scenarios I’ve played out in my head as to why I will not have surgery on January 31st.

When I experience “Temptationitis”, my imagination running away with me, life becomes a rollercoaster. Thinking of all of the reasons that the surgery WILL NOT HAPPEN on the 31st creates a cascading waterfall of thoughts that collect in a giant turbulent whirlpool of emotions. The whirlpool is surrounded by palm tress to add some visualization for relaxation.

I’m combating my escalating levels of anxiety by keeping myself busy, focusing on wrapping things up with a few of my clients, putting my consulting projects on hold, while getting other projects to a point where I and let go of them for a while. I am as well as watching mindless TV and reading.

Like a NASCAR driver five (5) laps from winning their first race who suddenly feels a loose wheel or senses that the engine is about to blow, I am damn near paranoid that something will get in the way of me having surgery on the 31st.

As far as the surgery goes, I have the easiest part, I will be asleep through most of it. Once I get on the other side of the surgery and recovery starts, I’m back in control. Or so I think. Post surgery, my recovery and my return to an active and adventure-filled life is all in front of me and within my reach. That’s where I want to get. The other side of the surgery. But I have to have the surgery first.

Getting to the surgical date of January 31st, getting to the hospital, getting prepped, and being wheeled in for the big event, well that’s my gauntlet. Occupying myself with activities, intentionally and deliberately planned activities, will help me get through this gauntlet so that I can enter that operating room mentally, physically, spiritually prepared. 

Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

Shutdown Coming

Welcome to my Heart 2 Heart Series featuring existential reflections of the narratives of my heart stories and those of my children and how these stories impact me, my wife, family & friends. Glad you have joined me on this introspective journey.

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When I taught graduate level students to two major universities, I pontificated on how being a counselor is like being an entrepreneur. My license to practice counseling is a license to be a business owner.

Business ownership is an “E-Ticket” ride to adventure. Being your own boss is great. Plenty of autonomy and freedom for the taking. Setting your own schedule. Inconsistent pay and royalty checks are like walking a tightrope. Not getting paid when you are not working or providing care (i,e, sick and vacation time) can be a bit unnerving for some of us.

As I prepare for my surgery, hospitalization and recovery, I am winding down my counseling and consulting business for a period of five to six weeks. Not to mention the weeks preceding and following my surgery and recovery will be different in terms of volume of meetings, energy needed and income generation. My anxiety over not having any and/or low income while ensuring that my clients can “span the gap in care” are two very real concerns that have my full attention.

I have been working with my clients for the past several weeks and will continue up to the start of my medical leave on Saturday, January 28, 2023, to ensure that they are prepared for this interruption to their care. My focus is to ensure that my health and recovery do not unnecessarily impact my client’s care and experience; and that disruption is at a minimum.

Secondary to my client’s care is my own financial security and long term health of my counseling and consulting business. Winding then shutting the business down for a period of two months is a definitely scary and not for the faint of heart. Loss of income, purpose and productivity can be tough on everyone of us. These losses create anxiety and even depression on top of the anxiety and depression associated with health crises. Planning and preparation have and will continue to help. A solid partnership, love and unity have and will continue to help. Faith has and will continue to help.

On the up side, my medical leave will give me time to retool and improve my counseling and consulting skills and approaches. I will emerge from the leave a better and more qualified counselor and business owner.

Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

Two Weeks and Counting

Welcome to my Heart 2 Heart Series featuring existential reflections of the narratives of my heart stories and those of my children and how these stories impact me, my wife, family & friends. Glad you have joined me on this introspective journey.

Follow the Blog for Updated Posts to This Series

Two weeks from today, January 31st, 2023, I am scheduled for have open-heart surgery to continue the heart saga that was started before my birth.

Teratology of Fallot (ToF) is a rare condition caused by a combination of four heart defects that are present at birth:

a ventricular septal defect (VSD),

pulmonary stenosis,

a misplaced aorta and

a thickened right ventricular wall (right ventricular hypertrophy)

In 1965, when I was born, the medical community in the United States did not have a surgical procedure to correct these issues. In 1970, one is developed and in March 1971, I had the procedure.

Adults with ToF usually have a second surgery later in the life to replace the corrected pulmonary valve, close the VSD, and address arrythmia issues. And a little over fifty years later, it is my time.

It’s starting to get real.

Planning for the “event” is now my focus. Soon, additional tests will be ordered and completed. Packing for the hospital stay will start. Trips to the airport to pick up family support team members will occur. However, right now, I am focused on transitioning my life into a pattern that will only be focused on the surgery, hospital stay and early recovery.

I am starting to wind down my practice and counseling my clients so that my five to six week medical leave will not impact their care. On January 28, 2023 my medical leave of absence will start, or so that is the plan, and I will pivot all of my focus on my own care, healing and recovery.

I won’t lie. As an entrepreneur, who doesn’t have paid sick days, there is something quite surreal and frightening about shutting down your business for six weeks. Turning off the income spicket can get the heart racing.

Over the next two weeks, my focus is ensuring my client’s well being and ensuring that when my leave is over and I can once again offer counseling services, I will be in a position to do so.