‘If you are going through Hell, keep going,’ is a quote attributed to the great former prime minister of Great Britain, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, which he might or might not have actually said it, according to the Quote Investigator.
But that does not matter.
It is the quote itself which holds Power, not the man who, supposedly, said it.
I was reminded of it yesterday when I was experiencing my own version of Hell.
Currently I am doing rounds at the pediatric department within my clinic and as the famous song by Andy Williams goes: ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year.’
Translated into my terms it means that most of the kids who come into the hospital are diagnosed with viruses or bacteria which are causing them have an elevated body temperature, be nauseous, have diarrhea and force them to vomit.
They are highly contagious and it has become sort of a hazing ritual that you have to get ‘vaccinated’ the good old (hard) way when you are working with those small sunrays of happiness.
I love working with children but yesterday I could not help myself but curse those little loafs of fluff to high Heaven when I felt like being trapped in the same room with the Devil himself.
Adding salt to an open wound I must have drunk a glass of wine the evening before which must have been liquid poison for how it made my body shiver and writhe in pain.
And adding PEPPER to the salt to an open wound I also had a very good, but strenuous, session at the gym doing bench presses and deadlifts with auxiliary exercises such as pushups, pull-ups and sprints.
I had a fever.
My stomach felt like filled with balls of lead sloshing around it.
I felt nauseous, wanting to, but not being able to vomit to experience sweet relief.
Everything was spinning around me as if being on a Merry-Go-Round but without the pleasant music. All I could hear was the beat of my pulsating aorta.
I was sore all over my body where each move caused exquisite pain known to all who like to lift with a goal in mind. Fellow weightlifters, you know what I am talking about.
Above all else – I felt so weak.
Breathing was hard for me, let alone moving.
I know I that I was overreacting but Goddamn did I just wish to sleep, forever. And I did, metaphorically, as I slept for 16 hours.
But I had a problem.
Being sick was not an option for me.
I am writing an exam on Monday.
Barely breathing, almost immobile, cramping all over, dehydrated and unfed I had to learn.
‘But how,’ I asked myself lying in my bed, pleading with my heart not to explode due to how ferocious it was beating.
Until it hit me: I am not faced with a question of ‘how’ but with a challenge of ‘wills’.
What is the most important thing to do when you are surviving Hell?
Keep moving. Forward, one step at a time.
Keep moving. Forward, one step at a time. Do not give up.
Suddenly, wasting in my bed was no longer an option for me.
I forced myself up, knees wobbly, took my medicine, drank the cup of homemade tea to the bottom, put on some clothes, a jacket and decided to go for a walk.
‘Where are you going,’ my girlfriend asked me with a concerned look on her face as she saw me in my feeble state.
‘Outside, to get some sun,’ I replied to her with a forced smile knowing that she could easily see through my ‘toughing it out’ persona.
‘Because I have to keep moving or this is never going to get better.’
As an up and coming physician we usually tell our patients to rest and here I am doing the exact opposite swearing at myself for doing so.
I could hardly describe myself walking, more like slowly shuffling my feet taking forever to get nowhere.
Retirees were passing me and looking dumbfounded at how they, who are arthritis stricken 70+ old seniors, were overtaking me, a spritely man in his twenties.
But, I was moving.
One step at a time.
Not giving up.
When I finally came home my girlfriend asked me where the Hell I was because it took me almost an hour to do a round which usually takes me about 20 minutes.
After a lovely scolding she served lunch for which she deserves top credit because it was light, nutritious and delicious – finely boiled rice with seasoned panga fish.
After that I went to sleep and as I woke up the fever, nausea and urge to vomit were gone, my stomach felt rejuvenated and I felt lighter all around.
Or the Power of Moving Forward.
Now here I am writing what had transpired – still feeling half sick and after that I’m going to prepare for my exam.
How, you ask?
With the Power of Moving Forward.
Step by Step.
Page by Page.
And I know that I’ll rock it, as will you when you will use the same Power when faced with your personal version of Hell.
Because believe me, you will.
It is not a question of ‘if’ but a question of ‘when’.