Think well

There’s a ‘battle royale’ taking place in my body every day I endure my life-threatening illness – it’s the mental struggle between pessimism and optimism. By quashing negative thoughts, more often than not, my cup of life remains half full rather than half empty…

I’ve learnt that staying on top of a terrible condition like cystic fibrosis (CF)* and recently acquired diabetes takes a lot of physical strength and belligerence. But just as significantly my mental approach has been just as decisive a factor in still being alive today and defying the survival odds.

Positive thinking is critical. When negative thoughts on a particular health related matter spring up, I work hard to swat them away. This coping mechanism of switching my mental channels to block worry and stress helps to manifest better health for me.

I try to manage the disease rather than let it manage me. I work very hard to compartmentalise CF so that it fits in with my day and life plans rather than the other way round. All the medication is just something I need to do at certain times of the day, so that I can get on with my life.

Rather than focus on the facets of my life that are perversely affected by CF and diabetes, I flip my thinking and compare myself to healthy people, sportsmen and businessmen to create a different benchmark.

The final chapter
We all know of people who like to read the end of a book before the beginning in order to discover how it all ends. What if that book centred on the outcome of your fatal illness? Would you still want to read ahead?

I have chosen to ignore reading that final chapter, focusing instead on the here and now and the things I can control. I do not want a deep knowledge of all the things that could go wrong or the likely side-effects.

I tend not to overly procrastinate about the worst case scenarios and scaring myself unduly. I feel the less I think about that, the less it can manifest in me. I prefer to visualise good lung function where I can run for longer without coughing and where I have surplus energy to achieve all I want in life – work, play and family.

Indeed, I have made a conscious decision not to read my condition’s obligatory ‘small print’!

Jedi mind tricks
I am no Saint but I have developed ‘Jedi-like’ mind tricks to deal with the variety of health situations and dilemmas that have been thrown at me over the years…

In my world there really is no time for moaning or whinging about treatments – what’s the point in complaining about something that I do so regularly? I’d spend a large portion of my day getting all down and negative… that’s not my bag!

During my intense intravenous (IV) treatments; I have learnt to read the signals in my body and how my lungs are responding to the drugs. I used to perceive extra mucous production as a showstopper and get very upset – once resorting to using my steel toe-capped boots in near-by woods to kick trees as a way of venting my anger (sorry trees!).
Usually the reality was very different and the extra coughing was a good sign as the drugs were getting into parts of my lungs that hadn’t been treated in a while.

In my 20’s, I developed a poor attitude towards the need for sleep often telling people that “I’ll get all the sleep I need, when I’m dead”. This stemmed from the projected life expectancy of 30 hanging over me, where sub-consciously my body told itself that those hours intended for sleep were better served living what was left of my life!

Recently, I have improved my mindset towards sleep by trying to breakdown this bad sub-conscious habit. This was even more important with all the broken sleep that comes from being a parent to Felix. I work hard to change my thought process to “needing all the sleep I can get to live as long as possible”.

I do think about a possible cure that future treatments like gene therapy might offer, but I can’t afford to dwell on it for too long or get my hopes up as there have been too many false dawns in my life.

Maybe one day I will have the need to delve into that final chapter of my life book; but until that day comes, I’ll keep drinking from my half full cup, visualise good health and keep ignoring that small print…

“The quality of your thoughts determines the quality of your life.” Vera Peiffer, author & psychotherapist

 

READ ALL ABOUT IT – For those that missed it last week, my story and blog featured in the Guardian G2 Health section on 15 February. Click here to view the article…

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Look out for my next post as I countdown to my 40 year milestone…

Regards

Tim

* Cystic Fibrosis is one of the UK’s most common life threatening inherited diseases, affecting over 8,500 people. The condition affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick sticky mucus. This makes it hard to breathe and digest food. Each week, five babies are born with the condition, however, each week, three young lives are also lost to it. There is currently no cure for CF. However, existing gene therapy trials in the UK are bringing people with the illness closer to a form of cure but CF is not that well known and would benefit from more public donations.

For more information and to find out more view the CF Trust Website

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About Tim Wotton

I live with my lovely wife (Katie) and spirited nine-year old son (Felix) in Morden, Surrey; working full-time as an internal communications specialist in the Oil & Gas sector. I have played sport, particularly hockey, tennis all my life and now regularly go to the gym. Cystic fibrosis has been a huge factor in my life, but not one that overshadows it. I have always had great support from my loving family - parents Margaret and Douglas (RIP), elder brother Chris and my twin brother Jez. I have many rich life insights based on knowing I have a reduced life expectancy and battling against the odds for over 44 years. My eyes and heart have been opened by my health struggle. I feel empowered to share my life lessons to help anyone with health and life issues to overcome. My passions include Paul Smith clothes, dress shirts (believing that it's enlightening to dress like it's your last day on earth), Alfa Romeo cars, spicey food, Harlequins and England rugby, Southampton FC, Wimbledon village and common, Dorset, seascapes, sunsets and military history. I am available for public speaking on this subject matter and can be contacted via timwottonAThotmailDOTcom. I have written a book 'How have I cheated death?' based on my euphoric countdown year to 40 which was published in 2014 and won the 2015 'Best Achievement' Award at the UK People's Book Prize. It is available via e-book, audiobook and paperback at Amazon and to order from UK bookstores. Go to the relevant sites below or in the UK go to a WH SMITH, Waterstones or Foyles bookstore and give them my name, book title and this ISBN number (9781849637190). It’s also available via GARDNER’S, BERTRAM’S, AUSTINMACAULEY.COM, BLACKWELL’S, PLAY.COM, AMAZON.CO.UK AND AMAZON.COM
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15 Responses to Think well

  1. Bella Banbury says:

    This is just all round good advise for everyone. I am such a firm believer in the glass half full approach to life – why on earth any other way. Good words Tim.

  2. Arch says:

    Having witnessed and struggled to keep up on some of those late nights…I’m with you and I love the early nights and long may they continue….. But I bet you still can’t help rising early, eh?

  3. Chris Law says:

    Still staggering to me how you keep positive, over the years you’ve been a continued inspiration. I take my hat off to you for helping so many people to understand that life is bearable, enjoyable and fulfilling even with your ongoing challenges and regime to stay on top of CF! Looking forward to celebrating your 40th with you and Jez very soon!

  4. Vera Peiffer says:

    What a brilliant attitude, Tim! Positive Thinking does not just have a beneficial effect on your mood, but it also has a positive effect on the cells in your body. A great book to read to see the scientific evidence of how your thinking influences the cell membrane is Spontaneous Evolution by Bruce H Lipton and Steve Bhaerman.
    You are an inspiration, Tim!

  5. Thank you!

    I am from Bulgaria. My elder daughter Alexandra has CF. She is 14. My younger daugter Victoria is 6 and is healthy carrier of the mutation.

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Dear Svetlana,
      Thanks for commenting. It’s odd how the CF genes are handed out – my eldest brother is healthy and a carrier but my twin brother is neither a carrier nor has CF (and delighted I am for him!).
      I hope my words will offer you and your family some solace and guidance.

      Best
      Tim

  6. Great advice for anyone Tim, I am sure your positive attitude has played a huge part in helping you fight CF every day.

  7. Olivia says:

    As always, the mind controls the body, consciously, unconsciously, and subconsciously.

    If those trees are anything like the ones in Harry Potter or Narnia, you’d better watch out they don’t come and get you!

  8. Dan Smith says:

    Tim, my daughter has CF and this post is so fortutious for me. The other night, as I was tucking her into bed (she’s 5), she said, “Dad, I wish I didn’t have CF.” She’s expressed this a few times, and while she doesn’t know what it means for her lifespan, she is starting to understand that she’s “different.” I’m a naturally pessimistic person myself, so hearing your glass is half full helped. Thank you.

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Hi Dan,
      Your comment meant a lot to me and thanks for being so bold and honest. I’m sure your daughter’s CF won’t have helped your natural tendency to feel pessimistic.
      ALL I can say is I firmly believe that what you think is reflected back at you in this life and at times you have to really deflect the negative thoughts into positive ones. “I don’t want…” thoughts need to start with “I want…” thoughts with what you do want rather than what you don’t want.

      Bless you and your daughter
      Tim

  9. Alison Moy says:

    Loving the blog, and loving to see how you are influencing and communicating with people from all over the place through it. On 17th March…will we be reading countdown to 50?

  10. I totally agree. When my daughter was diagnosed at two weeks old – I totally felt like I was being told what the final chapter in her life would be. We have learned to try and love every day, though sometimes, the “small print” as you called it pops unwelcome into my consciousness. In fact that is what my post today was about – and then I found your post and I realized that it is o.k. to have moments of fear as long as I don’t let it in too often or for too long. Thanks for spreading the infectious positive attitude.

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Dear Michelle,
      I am sure my parents must have kept their inner demons about me and my CF hidden from me a lot of the time. It’s OK to worry and fear – wer’e all humans and there’s no handbook with how to deal with any of this.

      Smile, have fun, take delight in your daughter’s happiness as she will take her direction from you…

      God Bless
      Tim

  11. Olivia says:

    I like what Alison said about Countdown to 50!

  12. Sharyn says:

    Another great read, Tim! Wish I could be a fly on the wall at your party…

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