Photo of Annette provided by Annette Langer
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When Annette Langer was asked what has helped her persevere in her darkest hour, she replied, “I'll preface the answer to your question by saying, first of all, I won’t elaborate on the various sprains, cuts and bruises we all face while negotiating this occasionally perilous life. But I guess it would be appropriate to set the stage by enumerating the medical challenges I've faced:
- Two separate head-on automobile accidents (almost losing my life in one)
- A broken arm twice
- A broken ankle
- A dislocated shoulder
- Surgery on both feet a total of nine times
- Gallbladder surgery
- Knee surgery twice
- Carpal tunnel surgery on my wrists three times
- Breast cancer surgery
- Spinal fusion surgery
- Stitches to my head on three separate occasions after I split it open (not counting brain surgery following that first automobile accident).
Her advice to others suffering illness, “It doesn't help your healing to expend energy worrying and wailing over your situation. In fact, it may even slow down the healing process. You need all your strength and wits in order to speed your recovery. In this regard, I wholeheartedly believe that while you may not be able to control your pain, you can control your suffering, which is entirely different. You have to make the decision as to how you're going to cope with your challenge. While others may be there to help you for a time (medical personnel, family, friends, etc.), it is you ultimately who is responsible for how you deal with it. Sometimes this can be accomplished by simply refocusing your concentration on things other than medical. This gives you a break from your current dilemma, helps put things into perspective (seeing the bigger picture), which in turn frees up your energy to speed the healing process. Outside help may be available for a time, but letting your illness or injury define you becomes off-putting to others and eventually may chase them away entirely.”
Annette talked about her current life, “My life today is full and rewarding, even without a complete return to health. In addition to family, I have many close friends who became so during my various medical challenges when they stepped up and helped me both physically and emotionally. Since my medical mishaps and maladies have not been continuous, I've been able to resume a normal life, even traveling to the far reaches of the globe. In fact, my second book deals with just this subject matter. In A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the World: Diary of a Fearless Travel Agent, I detail many of the funny, strange, and even scary things that have happened during my lifetime of travels to all seven continents.
This just underscores my point that life is what you make it, and many things are possible after illness or injury. Even if your situation sidelines you permanently, you can still be an armchair traveler and continue to learn about your world, if not an actual world explorer anymore. Focusing on something that interests you (such as travel does me) can deflect the focus from your medical situation in order to uplift you and strengthen you mentally.
Not only do I write and speak to groups about my books, but I also spend a lot of my time volunteering; this is another activity that refocuses my energy. I work in the gift shop of the local senior center where my books are sold; I usher at various live-performance theaters in the area, allowing me to see many plays and musicals to keep culture in my life while providing a service to the community; and I volunteer for my local police department in a multitude of functions, from driving a patrol car with another volunteer partner to assisting detectives with the juvenile offender hearings to assembling evidence in complex financial fraud cases.”
She described her book, “My message is simple and it is conveyed right in the title of my first book, Healing through Humor: Change Your Focus, Change Your Life! If you can see the upside or the less serious side to any medical challenge and then focus on something else rather than dwelling on your current medical predicament, you can assist greatly in your healing process. You are not your illness. By changing your focus, you can change your life. This is the message I have endeavored to convey. All of the stories in my book demonstrate mild to medium to severe medical challenges, all of which I have personally coped with by concentrating on the positives, which I discovered during the healing process. I decided that by sharing my own story, this would be the best way to illustrate the power of finding humor in even the darkest of places.” Annette credits her faith and mindset to her success. She shared, “I have a strong faith that things happen for a reason. I believe that I am in charge of how I respond to events that happen to me. I believe that something positive can always result from a negative event. You may not see it at first; you may not even believe it's possible. Who knew I'd ever become a published author? Who knew that someone would buy my book as a gift for a cancer patient and that the book would help her through her struggle? I am surprised daily over how something I wrote affects others and how others affect me. This is one of life's greatest gifts.
As I've mentioned, your body needs a mental vacation from medical challenges in order to help you heal. Your energy has to be directed outward, outside of yourself, and your focus on medical issues so that you may gain perspective to strengthen your resolve. It's not a question of, Why did this happen to me? But rather, now that this has happened, what am I going to do about it? Take back your life. You're in charge, even if only a little bit at first. Baby steps!”
Visit the contact section of Annette’s website to get in touch with her, www.AnnetteLanger.com.
She welcomes local (San Francisco Bay Area) opportunities to speak before your groups.Her closing words, “My books are available in both paperback and e-book versions from brick-and mortar bookstores as well as from online vendors such as Amazon.com, Smashwords.com, Barnes and Noble.com and Apple.com. For a personally-autographed first edition copy of either book, contact me directly through my website.”