If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you may have seen that I rescued a tiny kitten, roughly 2 to 3 weeks old, that we found on the side of the street, most likely thrown from a car by some SOB that I’d like to have a “talk” with.
Both his back legs were broken. He was completely emaciated, full of fleas and ticks (and therefore anemic), positive for roundworms and severely dehydrated. We named him Pete and took him to the emergency vet as soon as we found him and asked them to do whatever they could to save him.
They treated him for the fleas, ticks and worms and were able to repair (pin) his most severe broken leg, saying the other was “good enough” to heal on its own, with perhaps another surgery in the future, and sent him home with us to nurture back to health. Sadly, Pete didn’t make it. Two days after we brought him home, he took a rapid turn for the worse. I took him back in to the vet and was told he simply was too far gone to save. He was just too weak and had been in such a bad state that he couldn’t recover.
Although I was NOT looking for a cat, Pete stole our hearts. Even Rocket, my 100+ lb German shepherd, wasn’t aggressive toward him. Curious and sniffy? Yes. Aggressive, no. After we’d brought Pete home, he meowed until we’d pick him up so he could bury his little face in our neck to sleep. We all took turns holding Pete throughout the day, putting him in a laundry basket next to us while working so he wouldn’t be alone. It’s amazing how quickly we all fell in love with him, and how immensely sad we all were when he died.
For the next couple of weeks, I turned over and over again in my head what I should have done differently. I should have brought him back in to be checked on again sooner. He was lethargic the night before, but I had assumed it was the normal side effect of the medications he was on. I should have insisted they keep him longer after the surgery. Maybe he was on too many medications. Maybe we should have held off on the surgery until he was stronger (although the vet said the leg needed to be repaired ASAP and felt he could survive THIS surgery but not on the other leg or an amputation). Maybe I should have gotten a second opinion. Maybe a different food would have helped him get stronger, faster. I absolutely hate that we weren’t able to save little Pete, and I’m certainly not someone who takes losing easily.
But as angry and upset as I was, the simple fact of the matter is that despite my best efforts, I failed to keep Pete alive.
Many of my friends tried to console me, saying it’s not us who decides who lives and who doesn’t. They said, repeatedly, that I did everything I could, and at least Pete knew he was loved. But did he really? And did I do everything I could have?
This is the struggle of every person I know who is wired to win. We don’t shrug off our losses and failures easily. They haunt us. Enrage us. To be very clear, I didn’t see keeping Pete alive as a business transaction or personal challenge that I needed to “win” at. I genuinely just wanted to save him.
But as I see it, many of the “circumstances beyond our control” actually can be controlled. I was told a few times at the vet that I was doing a “very good thing” because they would have just put him to sleep the minute he came in instead of spending what ended up being $10K to give him a fighting chance. Again, I’m not wired to give in that easily, and I have the financial means to help, so I did. Gladly. Too many people just accept their circumstances and give up all their power to them. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t at least try.
If someone doesn’t really, really, really HATE not doing well or not getting the outcome they want, regardless of whether it’s personally or professionally, I can pretty much predict they don’t overcome very much and don’t do all that well in life. I expect to win. Maybe you see that as arrogant, or misplaced, unrealistic, egotistical pride. I see it as a standard I hold myself to. Since I hate not doing well, I do quite well more often than not.
And on the occasions when things just don’t work out, I remember the serenity prayer, asking Him to give me peace to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can and the wisdom to know the difference. It’s probably one of the single most powerful prayers for control freak entrepreneurs like me who insist on winning.