The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

193: Dealing with a Health Scare: Lessons in Self-Care, Trust and Self-Coaching

October 17, 2023 John Neral Season 3
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
193: Dealing with a Health Scare: Lessons in Self-Care, Trust and Self-Coaching
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

When was the last time you truly listened to your body? Have you ever ignored a minor health concern, only for it to evolve into a significant issue? I did and it nearly cost me my sight. My journey from noticing a small black spot in my right eye to being diagnosed with a retinal tear and detachment was a terrifying roller-coaster that underscored the importance of self-care, trust in experts, and the power of self-coaching. 

The fear and anxiety that I experienced were real, and I'm sure many of you have experienced similar feelings in your own health journeys. But, amidst all the fear, something amazing happened - I discovered the profound impact of self-coaching and the healing power of family support. I also realized that trust in experts is vital - they are the ones who have the knowledge and the skills to help us navigate our health issues. My eyesight was at stake, but the impeccable care and support from the team at the Advanced Retina Center and my family kept me grounded.

Translate this personal health crisis to our careers, especially when we are mid-career professionals. How often do we ignore our own stress, our health, in the race to be successful? This journey was not just about my eye condition, but it was a reality check about the importance of self-care in every aspect of our lives. Prioritizing health, trusting our gut, and the power of self-coaching - these are lessons that I wish to share with all of you so that you can build a robust mid-career GPS, complete with a comprehensive checklist for job seekers. So, tune in, as together, we explore the importance of putting ourselves first for success in our personal and professional lives.

Support the show

Thank you for listening to The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.
Please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts here.

Visit to download your free "Mid-Career Job Seekers Checklist." Plus, check out other leadership and career resources at

Connect with John on LinkedIn here.
Follow John on Instagram & Threads @johnneralcoaching.
Subscribe to John's YouTube Channel here.

Speaker 1:

If you're looking for a new job, nothing is worse than feeling overwhelmed about thinking about all of the things you should be doing. It's why I created a new checklist for you called your mid-career job seekers checklist. This checklist will help you get organized, strategize a plan and help you execute that plan. To start building your mid-career GPS right now you can get it for free on my website at johnnarrellcom. You can check the show notes or the featured section on my LinkedIn. But if you're ready to start building your mid-career GPS, let me help you get started. Download my free checklist and, strategically, let's figure out whatever is next for you and your career. Like you, I've spent the last week watching the news and am horrified by the terrible attacks and massacres in the Middle East. I'm trying to process what's happened and what may happen, and I'm incredibly saddened, upset and angered by the amount of hate and evil that exists in our world, and I don't understand it. I pray this doesn't escalate further, but I fear more lives will be lost. I don't know the entire story, nor do I claim to, but to my friends who are directly affected by these events, I want you to know that my heart goes out to you and everyone experiencing true hell on earth and pray we can find peace, because the world certainly seems like a scary place right now, and while I was watching and following the news, I witnessed my life and health take a terrifying turn. Last week A little over a week ago, I started having a problem with my eyesight, which set off a series of things in motions and a lot of doctor visits. While things are better, I'm not in the clear yet, but, that being said, I've learned a lot of things this past week, including how self-coaching has kept me grounded and why it's essential to trust your gut. So in this episode, I will share a very personal story with you about what happened to me over the last week and I'll share the lessons I've learned that are helping me put myself first in hopes they will help you build this all important component of your mid-career GPS. Let's get started. Hello, my friends, this is episode 193 of the Mid-Career GPS podcast. I'm your host, john Narrell. I help mid-career professionals who feel stuck, undervalued and underutilized show up to find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four-step formula. Now, a few months ago, I took this podcast to two episodes a week, in Tuesdays, I typically reserve for what I call a shorty episode to give you some kind of leadership or career tip, and I guess today what I'm going to do is I'm going to share with you a tip that applies to both but really is more about a personal tip to help you, because I shared in the introduction. A little over a week ago, I noticed a small black spot around six o'clock in my right eye. I wear contacts. I thought, eh, okay, maybe the contact's dirty or whatever, and took it out and that was still there and I thought maybe my eyes are just tired. And I woke up the next morning and I was like, oh, spots gone. And then I got up and I went into the bathroom and I was like, damn it, that spot's back. I didn't know what that was. So we had been away for the weekend. We had about a two, two and a half hour drive home. I drove home and when I got home which was around 11.15, I felt like that spot got bigger and now I'm starting to freak out. I don't know what it is, but I'm like something's not right. So I am very blessed and very grateful that I have this amazing optometrist who is right in my neighborhood. I called up his office. I was like is there any chance I can come in? They were like he's got a spot open at 12 o'clock. I'm like, boom done. So I go over to see him and right away they start taking pictures and they're looking at things and stuff and I could tell he was a little concerned. And eventually, about an hour or so later, he comes back and he's like here's what I think's going on. He goes I think you've got a tear in your retina. He's like I want you to go see this specialist. Now. Makes total sense, right? You get referred. You go see a specialist. He goes I'm going to make a call for you. Now. When you think about the level of care you provide your clients, your team members, hearing something like I'm going to make a call for you to me immediately thought this isn't just him being nice, this is him really looking out for me. So, makes a call. I run home. I drive home, rather, I get Richard and I'm like look, I'm going to need you. So we drive over to the Retina Center and we live in Northern Virginia, so we go over to this Retina Center. Thankfully it wasn't too much of heavy traffic because last Monday was a federal holiday. And so we go and the person whom I was supposed to meet wasn't there and I meet the partner in his practice, and so there's more tests and more photos, and more pictures and more questions and dilating my pupil and everything. And I'm trying to keep myself calm. And she comes back in and she says to me I'm going to need you to go to the other office. Now this is around 4.430. And she says Dr Wu is going to meet you there. Okay, wait a minute. I'm thinking to myself. I thought Dr Wu had the day off, so now he's going to come in and meet me. Now I'm thinking, oh boy, this is getting a little more scary. So we drive over to the other office and I'll talk to you in a little bit about how the whole self-coaching component came into play here. But to not bury the lead, after Dr Wu examines me, he tells me that my retina is detached, there is a tear in the retina, and he is going to inject a gas bubble into my eye to put pressure on my retina to help it reattach, and that for about the next 24 hours I am going to have to sit upright with my head tilted at about 10 o'clock, 50 minutes every hour, in order to let the gas bubble do its work. Okay, now I got a lot of questions and if you're squeamish or you're eating something right now, you may not want to listen to this or you may want to just fast forward about a minute, but I got questions right. So I look at him and I go I'm guessing you're going to have to stick a needle in my eye. He goes, yay, he goes, but you're not going to see it. But when he mean I'm not going to see it, he goes because you're going to be looking at the left and I'm coming over the top of your head and you're not going to see me put the needle in. I said well, doctor, I should probably let you know that I have anxiety and there are times when my anxiety manifests itself, sometimes have like a little bit of a headache and I'm like that kind of freaks me out because I don't want to like have a reaction. And you got a needle in my eye. So we have a good laugh at that point, which was really nice, and I'm like, okay, all right, and he goes. No, no, he goes, he's going to be fine. Well, you and I both know that. A really good doctor who is really really good at what they do. They're also really really good at calming patients down he says no, no, no, I'm going to walk you through every step, you're going to be fine. So now I got this gas bubble in my eye and I'm like okay. So now I got to go home and sit in the chair 1030. Here's the part that scared me the most, and if you've ever had a retinal detachment or a tear, perhaps maybe you have thought the same thing. But given everything that had happened today and how quickly things escalated, he looked at me and he said I don't want you to lose the eye. Huh, less than 24 hours ago, everything was fine. And now you're telling me that there's a risk of me losing my eyesight. And all of a sudden, things started to flood into my head right, like so how am I going to be able to see things? How am I going to be able to do work? Am I going to be able to bowl? Can I play the piano? All of these things started rushing through my head and, like our brains often do, in this magnificent tool that it is, it starts revving up and escalating, so, so fast, I'm like I'm just going to breathe. So, when we talk about self-coaching, there is a tool that I use and am familiar with. It is a product of the life coaching school. It is called the model. The model is based on this premise that for every circumstance, we have a thought. That thought creates a feeling. That feeling creates an action. That action creates a result. There is a similar but slightly different methodology through the coaching program that I'm certified in and, to be perfectly clear, I am not certified by the life coach school, but I have enrolled in some of their programs and I am familiar with the tool and so, for my own purposes in using it, I'm like okay, let's see how this is going to help. So I'm like I'm sitting there because, as you're waiting for your eye to get dilated, right, and I'm sitting there going, okay, what are my thoughts? Because the circumstance here is, my retina is detached and torn and while all these thoughts were going on in my head, like I might lose my eyesight, or how painful is this? Is going to be very painful, or I'm really unsure of what's going to happen right now. The thought that grounded me both from my optometrist to these two specialists was I'm in the hands of experts. Think about that. I'm in the hands of experts. I'm not a retina specialist, I'm not an eye specialist, but I know great people who are and I'm in the hands of experts. So that was my thought. What was my feeling? My feelings were that I was scared, I was anxious and I was worried. But my actions were to follow the process. Retina specialist gives me homework. I do the homework because this is a crucial moment right now. We need this gas bubble to work. So if I follow the process that I'm being told, the result is I am going to give myself every possible chance for success. That thought I'm in the hands of experts. That feeling I am scared, anxious and worried. My action do what I'm told, follow the process. The result give myself every possible chance for success. Notice, I didn't say here the retina is going to reattach. I have no control over that. What I have control over in my process in this is, if I follow the process, I'm going to give myself every possible chance for success. So I kept reinforcing that. Now, the purpose of running a model like this is that it's not designed to make you feel better. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't, but the process of any model is to show you your brain. I needed to get in touch with what was going on in my brain right now to walk through this whole process. So I go home Monday night, I sit in the chair with my head at like 10, 10, 30. I don't sleep very much that night, which I knew was going to happen. I'm seeing this big black gas bubble in my eye. That's kind of hanging out and doing its thing. And I go back and see the doctor on Tuesday and he tells me great, because the retina is reattached, now we're going to do some laser. Huh, like, okay, doc, I just got through the whole needle thing in my eye and now you're coming at me with a laser. Yep, I said, do you usually give people a sedative for these kind of things? He says, well, if we know about it ahead of time, he goes. We don't have anything like that here. He goes, you'll be fine. I'm saying to myself, doc, I'm so glad you're confident in me. That's great. I kind of need that right now. But I'm freaking out over here. So I'm like I'm like, hey, tell me what's going to happen. Walks through the whole process of how we're going to keep my eye open and he's going to shoot the laser. I'm like, how long is this going to take? He's like five to 10 minutes. Like five to 10 minutes, okay, and I'm trying to get my head around this. So if you've ever had to go through anything like this, I'm sure you can probably understand how your brain, too, just kind of like runs that whole thing. And again, I keep coming back to that thought. I am in the head of the brain. I am in the hands of experts. I am in the hands of experts. They know what they're doing. They're going to take great care of me. I'm going to follow this process. So, doc, you tell me I need to sit in that chair and you're going to put something in my eye to keep it open and you're going to shoot this laser beam in to fix the tear in my eye. Damn it, I'm going to do it. Like whatever you need me to do, right? So goes ahead and does it. I go back to the doctor on Wednesday. Now, one of the things I learned in all of this, by the way, is that, like I can't really be staring too much at my screen. So I'm like, oh, I didn't realize how much that phone was really in my hand. A whole lot, right. So I go back to the doctor on Wednesday. Things look good. He says, okay, I'm not going to see you Thursday, I'm going to see you Friday. We may need to do some more laser. I want to keep checking in on you. All right, great, I am in the hands of experts. So I went on Friday and everything looked good. The retina is still attached, the gas bubble is getting smaller. He sees the scar tissue from the tear in the retina that he hit with the laser. He goes might need to do some more laser next week. I'm going to see you next week. So I'm going to see him the day after this episode drops. But here's the thing that as I was sitting there, I looked at him and I looked at another staff person that was there and I said to him four days ago I didn't know you, I didn't know anybody here, and today I sit before you and I'm so grateful for all of you and I burst into tears in the office. And I burst into tears in the office. I was so overcome with gratitude and the care that he and his team gave me to my optometrist, who gave me right that I would not be here feeling this amount of gratitude had it not been for them. So I want to take a moment and give some shoutouts here. First and foremost, to Dr Frank Kassella, who is my optometrist, I want to thank you so much for seeing me as quickly as you did. One of the reasons why I go see Dr Kassella is not only is he an amazing optometrist, he's also a Yankees fan. That is not a criteria, but it helps. Even though we didn't have a great year this year, I just always appreciate your excellent care and, importantly, I am continually amazed and impressed at how you show up for me, for your team and for all your clients. So thank you To Dr Galati and Dr Wu over at Advanced Retina Center here in Northern Virginia. I can't thank you enough. Thank you for taking such excellent care and being there. As I just shared previously, I didn't know you a few days ago and now I'm so grateful for you. I want to give a shout out to my coach, craig Spear. Yes, coaches have coaches. It's one of the reasons why we believe so strongly in the power of coaching and I am so grateful for you, craig. You have been checking in with me and helping me through all of this. Craig specifically works with men who are over 50 on their health, their fitness, their wellness and, for some of us, their businesses as well, and Craig and I have been doing a lot of work lately, especially around finding better balance for me and my work and in my life, and I am truly looking forward to digging in with you about what some of these next steps are going to be. So thank you, but most importantly, I have to thank my husband, richard. If you are blessed to have someone in your life who is there for you be it a spouse, partner, your ride or die, whomever that is, never forget that, while they may not be dealing with the physical pain you are, they are being the brave and strongest person they can be for you and they are bearing a lot, and because of that, ever I needed him to drop everything and take me to a doctor's appointment. He did. We always say to us. We always say we're a team, it's what we do, and it's one of the things I'm so grateful about our relationship and I wish you the same in yours. But there's another part of that and that is we are incredibly blessed with a very strong family of choice. These are our dearest friends, who are always there for us whenever we need. They're continually checking in and reaching out. What do you need? They're there with a laugh or support and with that. One of the things I've learned in all of this, once again, is that not everybody's great in a crisis. Not everybody knows what to say, or they'll say something and it lands a little bit differently and you might get easily offended by it. And so what I'm learning in all of this is that, for those people in my life that didn't exactly show up in the way I had hoped them to, I understand you showed up as the best way you could and I'm thankful for that, and I know that doesn't mean you don't care, you don't worry, but for our dearest friends, thank you so so, very much. You have been an incredible rock and support. I also want to give a shout out to our very dear friends, paul and Rich, who not only were we away with over the weekend but continually kept in touch about what was going on and what was happening and offering advice and guidance and support to Richard. So, guys, thank you both very, very much for that as well. So we talk about takeaways, we talk about change, especially after something like this right, because in the movies we see this as this big, transformative moment and then life changes and everything's great after that. I can't promise you that, as a solo business owner and somebody who works very, very hard at what he does. It's one of the reasons why you and I relate and connect as heart centered leaders and professionals. We often don't put ourselves first. It's this tug of war, and lately I've been working on a really big project which I had hoped to announce to you by now, but I'm going to need to put that off, maybe another week or two, and maybe it's one of those things that this is the way stress kind of manifests itself for me. But whatever that is, I'm going to promise you this there are absolutely going to be some takeaways and some changes as a result of this, and one of the things initially and it's the S in my show up six strategies is I need to set new ground rules. I need to set new ground rules for where I put my health first, and I'm going to work with my coach on this. But we've been working on something lately and Craig calls it paying the rent. I take care of myself, I take care of my clients and my business and I take care of my relationship, and so every day it's my opportunity to show up and pay the rent. And I know we're going to talk about maybe setting some new ground rules or what that balance looks like, but it is about understanding what the musts are every week. And, yes, sometimes things like this and I know for me definitely do change perspective on what's happening and what's going on. And the other piece here is how do I want to be held accountable? What are the things I want or need in place for me and my work as I move forward? Because, as you know, I love what I get to do for my clients, who I had to reach out to last week and say I need to reschedule. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being so understanding and flexible, and it's one of the reasons why I so enjoy my one-on-one relationships with my clients is that when they sign on and I say to them, I go, look, life happens. Sometimes life's going to happen to you. We're going to have flexibility and grace, and sometimes life's going to happen to me and I hope you'll give me the same flexibility and grace. You did that for me and then some Thank you so very, very much. I'm excited to get back to work with you. So what does all this mean for you and your mid-career GPS? Well, remember, if you can't be there for yourself, you can't be there for everybody else. Trust your gut. I am a huge proponent that you are the owner of your body. You know it better than anybody else and if something doesn't feel right, get information from credible sources that are there to help you. Get the information you need to figure out whatever treatment plan may be involved. We don't have to be the expert on everything, but we do need to be the expert of our bodies. One of the things all three doctors have said to me repeatedly over this past week was that I didn't wait. I didn't wait. As soon as I noticed that dark spot in my eye, I acted on it. That is probably one of the biggest successors in terms of the health of my eye right now, and there had been other moments in my life when I've had a health scare that I have not waited and I have acted on it and thankfully, things have turned out very well. It doesn't always happen that way. We know that by hearing stories of friends and family members, but again, we want to give ourselves our best possible chance. So, however you're taking care of yourself, I ask you to spend some time after this episode or this week thinking about how you can take care of yourself just a little bit better. Where can you put yourself first a little bit more? What does that look like for you? We're going to figure this out and I hope you will stick around and listen to Thursday's episode. I talk with an executive coach. We talk about her new book, which is all about self-coaching. It is an amazing conversation. I actually went back and re-listened to it because it had been a while since we recorded it and we wanted to drop the episode in time with her book launch, which her book is already out. So you'll hear more about that on Thursday. But I'll tell you, if I didn't know how to self-coach myself, I probably would have spiraled out of control this week. Being so freaked out with everything that thought about I am in the hands of experts has served me very, very well this week and will continue as I go through this process. Coaching is a great way of getting support, whether you're working with a coach now, you're thinking about working with a coach. Maybe that's on your goal for next year, or whatever that is. If I can help you out with that in any way, please reach out to me. You can always email me at johnnerlcom. All right, my friends, I want to thank you. Thank you for the time today. Thank you for allowing me to open up and share this story with you. Take care of yourself, be kind to each other and remember this we build our mid-career GPS one mile or one step at a time and how we show up matters. And, if anything over this last week, what I've learned is how we show up for ourselves. And there's even more. Take care. Make it a great rest of your day and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Bye for now. Thank you for listening to the Mid-Career GPS podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform and, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your comments on Apple podcasts. Visit johnnerlcom for more information about how I can help you build your mid-career GPS or how I can help you and your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event, and don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at John Darrell Coaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters.

Job Seekers Checklist and Health Update
Retina Detachment and Self-Coaching
Trusting Experts for Eye Treatment
The Power of Coaching and Self-Care
Mid-Career GPS and John Darrell