PREFACE: I’ve heard it said before that if everyone in the world could somehow throw all their problems into a giant bag and swap with someone else, that you’d better just pray that when it comes time to pick a new problem, that you grabbed your own and not someone else’s.

After experiencing what turned into a medical nightmare for me this past week while on a part business, part leisurely trip to Europe, I couldn’t agree more with the above statement.

What you are about to read is a true story that happened for me between June 8th & June 17th, 2010. I took pictures to document my trip, and as you will see, there’s not much “trip” to them, but just an account of how I spent my visit to Norway.

And although my story is kind of depressing, as they say, every dark cloud has a “Silver Lining” and mine, the Silver Lining that came from my darkest cloud, is as bright as bright can be.

Let me explain…

-3While traveling to Norway to support one of my great friends & business partners, Per Gunnar Hoem, the #1 Scandinavian Leader in Home Based Business, at a LIVE event he was hosting for over 500 people this past week I woke up from a nap on my flight from Newark New Jersey to Oslo, Norway, to find that my left elbow was in excruciating pain.

Not only was it inflamed and very red, but my skin was hot.

Unsure of what happened, I iced it on the plane for an hour and took some Advil that another passenger had in her purse.

Sure enough, when arriving in Oslo, I was only able to use one arm to de-board the plane, get through customs and gather my luggage.  Thank goodness that my friend and business partner Carl Harald Krystad met me at the baggage claim to assist me and drive me to my hotel.

-4Being only 9:30 am when I arrived, I attempted to sleep but with my elbow throbbing and in excruciating pain, it was very difficult.

Not even a Norwegian Beer that night could put my arm at ease, so after almost 24 hours of attempting to get comfortable and actually fall asleep in my hotel room, I decided to take a taxi cab to a nearby medical clinic where they immediately drew blood and found that I had an infection that found its way to the Bursar Sac in my elbow.

They called it “student’s elbow”, because I was leaning on it for several hours while I read my book on the flight, similar to a student reading and studying for an exam.

I didn’t have a fever, although I had flu like symptoms and I was very uncomfortable when I was sent back to my hotel room.

24 hours later after reporting to the same clinic for a follow up appointment and giving more blood, I was told I needed emergency surgery for my condition and that I was to take a cab to a local hospital and get checked in.

-1Well, sure enough, after giving more blood, again, and a series of visits from several doctors and specialists, I went under the knife at 7:00 pm on Friday June 11th. It just so happened it was my birthday that day, and sure enough, with the success of my surgery, I felt there was some metaphorical meaning to it all – perhaps a NEW Birthday or better yet, a new lease on my life?

Not quite sure what the outcome of what was happening for me was going to be, I just prayed that the good lord was watching over me as I put my faith into everyone and everything I didn’t even understand.

What started out as a leisurely business trip that I looked forward to for months, turned into a medical nightmare.

From the pain and swelling to the sleep deprivation to the lack of food to emergency surgery, to 24/7 monitoring with IVs, blood samples and morphine being pumped into my system, all in a foreign country, well, this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Now, to get into every single detail of my experience in this Government Funded Hospital would make for a very drab story, especially because I myself do not want to re-live it all again, but I will share with you some of the highlights of my week there in Norway.

-6First, there were the living conditions.

To best explain, I was in a Government Funded Hospital, so despite excellent medical care, there was no room for me.

I spent my first 2 days in the hallway, surrounded by dividers that kept me in a little cocoon, so that the rest of the hospital ward couldn’t see me when passing by and so that I didn’t have to see them. For 48 hours after my surgery, I was enclosed in a little 6 X 10 little cell.

Finally, after 2 days of being in the hallway, I was moved into a room with my own sink and a window and a few chairs and sofa. Life was good.  And in this room, I was to remain for the next 4 days.

I had to share a bathroom and shower with about 40 other patients. This fact alone was very challenging for me, so I requested a hospital worker to hose down, sterilize and sanitize the facilities before I had to use them.  Thank goodness I learned a few Norwegian words and was able to say them with a smile!  The most important being, “Takk”, or “Thank You”.

Then, there was the food.

-5If a picture was ever worth a thousand words, here it is. 6 nights in the hospital, six times this meal was brought to me.  You might even notice that there is a bite taken out of one of the pieces of ham on a piece of bread. That was both my first and last bite of that meal.  I refused to eat that food, so instead, I ate whatever fruit they could find me, along with my own protein bars that I cleverly packed for my trip, just in case I could not find a snack between meals. Of course, I did not anticipate being in the hospital, so I had to eat my protein bars as my main course, for every meal, for 6 days straight.

What seemed like a long, long, long story for me, (since I was the one in the hospital with IVs sticking out of my arm, after having given blood about 18 times, having my arm hang like a piece of meat on a hook and morphine and anti-biotics being pumped into my veins for 6 days straight), something good, no GREAT has come from my experience.

Now although I cannot go back and change the past, I have to say that during this entire ordeal, something changed inside of me that I know I will never forget long into the future.

Every time I had a complaint about my situation, the pain in my arm, the fact that my business trip was ruined, emergency surgery, terrible food, horrible living conditions, EVERY TIME I found myself complaining, I quickly reminded myself of these things…

It could be worse – a lot worse.

I could have had to get my arm amputated.

I could not have had clean drinking water.

I could not have had ANY medical attention.

I could not have had any food.

I could not have had any communication with the doctors and nurses in English.

I could not have had an iPhone or computer to communicate with my family or friends or be entertained by watching movies or using FaceBook or Twitter or sending and receiving email.

I could not have insurance or a way to pay for my ticket home or a hotel room when I was discharged to rest one day before I flew.

In the end, it all boiled down to a few very powerful thoughts for me.

Although I was not happy with my situation, I was grateful.

I felt appreciative.

I felt fortunate.

And I felt blessed.

Because just knowing that my situation was temporary, gave me all the comfort in the world.

I knew I would be leaving soon.

I knew I would heal and become healthy again.

I knew my family & friends would be waiting for my arrival back in the USA.

I knew my life would quickly get back on track and I’d be able to live my normal life again, with great living conditions, great food, and lots of love.

But you see, this is NOT the case for so many others around the world.

Clean drinking water, healthy food and a place to rest their head at night is NOT something that everyone around the world gets to enjoy.

Matter of fact, every day, children and adults in 3rd World Countries suffer and die from a lack of these luxuries and their consequences.

My experience made me realize just how blessed I am to have the things I DO have in my life.

If you can read this on a computer or mobile device, consider yourself blessed too.

If you live in a country where there is clean drinking water, food and a place for you to rest your head that is not in the dirt or filled with insects, rodents or disease, consider yourself blessed.

For me, I realize that anyone living in a first world country, that can experience the freedoms of life and have clean water, food and a place to rest their head every night, is on top of the world.

If you live in a place where you have easy access to these things, don’t just consider yourself blessed, consider yourself WEALTHY, because compared to the rest of the World, you are.

I know I am.

So, considering my own problems versus those of many in our world, my attitude is gratitude.

My feeling is appreciation.

And my understanding has been changed forever.

Just make sure that if you ever have to switch problems with someone else in this world, that when it comes time to grab a problem and call it your own, that you grab your own, because you will be much better off than if you grab someone else’s.

Thanks for taking an interest in my experience and please share your thoughts if you have any.

Warm & prosperous regards!

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32 Comments on You’d Better Pick Your Own Problems – My Experience in a Government Funded Hospital

  • Dear Aaron,
    First of all, allow me to wish you a very Happy Father’s Day, as I have no doubt it is now that you are home with the ones you love. I am sure they are grateful to have you there as well.

    Your insightful revelation from the experience you just encountered, no doubt will touch many of the people who read it. Even in our first world counries (like right here in the USA) there are many untold tragedies of the homeless and those who have met with misfortune. So many of us complain daily of trivial things that we encounter and make a big deal of it. Yet we forget to be grateful for the little things we have within our hearts and homes no matter what income level we now fall into. Sometimes it takes something as drastic as what you experienced to open our eyes and see what the truly important things in life are. Wealth isn’t just what is in a bank account. Wealth is measured by the people we surround ourselves with and what we do to provide for and share with those of importance to us in our lives as well as the compassion and willingness to assist those less priviledged than ourselves with love understanding and compassion.

    Thank you for taking the time to share this story as I know it will touch the lives of many. I consider it a privilege and a pleasure to have met you in person and look forward to connecting with you again soon. Your leadership is very much appreciated.

    God Bless and Enjoy your Special Day!
    Nancy

  • Aaron,

    Happy Father’s Day and yes you are blessed.
    Here is to your speedy recovery.

  • You’re an all-star in so many different ways! It is in moments of total futility that a real man finds peace and gratitude. Thanks for the inspiring words!

  • Norway is considered a very good country over here in Europe and the medical care is excellent. It seems to me that as a US citizen you maybe have been spoiled and cosseted into expecting a level of care that exceeds the majority of cases here in europe because our healthcare is not ‘private’ as it is in the US and it is available to everyone not just those who are fortunate enough to afford it. Our diet may not be what you are used to but it is what we eat and looking at the photo I am not sure what was wrong with it?
    It is good healthy food and not fat laden as we believe you eat lots of in the US.
    You were treated well and promptly and arrived home in the US having had very good medical care.
    In the US if you can afford decent healthcare then this is what you get – you are very lucky if this is what you can afford. In the US there are vast vast profits made in healthcare at the expense of those who are needy of it being able to access it here in Europe we have good standards and make it available to all.

  • Hello Aaron,

    Without a doubt we are extremely lucky here in the United States. I appreciate your insight in to your life over the last 2 weeks.
    I want to wish you a very Happy Father’s Day. Enough the gift that God has granted you and Sophia – your kids. :)

    I consider myself blessed to you have as a friend.

    Thank You Aaron.

    Your Friend,

    Thomas
    .-= Thomas Chandler´s last blog ..What being a Father means to me… =-.

  • @Nancy – thanks for your feedback and comments. I agree that wealth is not
    only measured by a bank account, but by who we surround ourselves with
    and the things we are blessed with that have nothing to do with an abundance
    of finances.
    @Marci – thank you!
    @Ivan – thank you too my friend!
    @Andrzej – thanks for your comments. I’m not sure if you felt I was shunning
    European, more specifically Norwegian healthcare, but I’m not. Just government
    funded hospitals. There are government funded hospitals all over the world and
    moving forward, I will do everything in my power to not have to stay in one ever
    again. I’d prefer to pay for what I can afford. This is my right and is anyone’s who
    can afford better conditions. And yes, I am definitely spoiled being in America
    and having different options. As far as the food, it was just not what I am used to
    nor compelled to eat, so I used my available resources and did the best I could
    to keep my calories and energy high. I did say that I received excellent health care
    which was the most important thing. My perspective on many subjects has changed
    after this experience. I’m sure you can understand…
    @Thomas – likewise my friend. Great to be a part of your network as well…Happy
    Father’s Day to you too!
    .-= Aaron Rashkin´s last blog ..You’d Better Pick Your Own Problems – My experience in a Government Funded Hospital =-.

  • Hello Aaron,

    What an ordeal! Thank you for sharing your experience with us. It is such human nature to focus on ourselves and our own problems. It reminds me of a saying I heard once that goes: “I used to feel sorry for myself because I had no shoes, until one day when I met a man with no feet.”

    Thank you for creating awareness to help us have an attitude of gratitude.

    Glad you are home with your family and on the mend.

    Blessings to you and yours!

  • Hey Aaron,

    I am very happy you are back in the States and
    making a full recovery. Even though what you share
    with us is invaluable, the chance that you may
    not have returned to your family would have
    been a greater loss! Best wishes from my wife,
    Theresa, and I.
    .-= Terry Sauerbier´s last blog ..How the “Wealth Tax” Will Effect You in the Coming Years =-.

  • I think everyone before me has said a lot so I will keep it brief. On occasion I have been called a Pollyanna so your choice to have gratitude and invest time and effort to share valuable thoughts and your experience completely validates that there is extraordinary and mediocrity. All your success in life comes from your conscois choice to connect your mind and body to your soul and that’s more inspriing than anything ~

  • @Debra – Yes, attitude of gratitude. I thought of that quote often when in the
    hospital. ‘;-)
    @Terry – Yes, that is true, but it wasn’t even a thought! I knew I was getting
    out of there in due time. Just had to endure the challenges until I could fly again.
    @Konstantina – Yes, connecting my mind with my body and my soul is what its
    all about. I even willed myself to better health because my body does what my
    mind tells it to.
    .-= Aaron´s last blog ..You’d Better Pick Your Own Problems – My experience in a Government Funded Hospital =-.

  • Hi Aaron,

    Great to hear all’s well again.

    I actually live in Norway just now and am sometimes surprised by the lack of bedspaces they have when,at the same time closing hospital wards all over a country,many regard as one of the wealthiest in the world!?!

    As for the food,even for a Dutchman it is kind of bland,although fairly well balanced.

    You are absolutely right in us having to be grateful for all we DO have when so many will never have even the basic ammenities and services we so often take for granted.

    Thanks for sharing and have an awesome day,

    Warmest regards,

    Jan :-)

  • Oh my, just when we may be thinking about how tough we have it – reality strikes and brings us back to what is really important. Aaron thanks for sharing and your help putting some of us back on a path to what is really important…our loved ones, our mind set and what we should really be grateful for! Thanks for bring the leader you are and sharing part of your life journey with us. I love you brother.

  • Aaron is my son and a great son to his parents. My father’s day gift was to have him back home healthy with his family. His attitude during this ordeal was unbelievablely good. As always, Aaron finds positives where others find negatives. I want to thank his friend Carl, who did such an amazing job of helping Aaron prepare to leave Norway. You are the best.

    Len Rashkin

  • Hello, Aaron! Please accept my sincere wishes for health. Such conditions, in what was you, is still 80% of people in Russia and even worse. In the 17 years I was in a similar. In a hospital ward were 6 and 2 of them died. That was a nightmare. Thank God that everything turned out and you’ll soon be well. It could be much worse and we should thank. Regards Genady.

  • I’m glad to hear that you are doing well. Some of life’s learning experiences can be quite the test. Thanks for sharing your results with us and giving us reason to pause and take stock of our own situations.

  • To paraphrase a quote of one of my favorite movies Wall Street “Man finds his character when he looks into the abyss”. Thank God you are better, all is well that ends well. Thank you for reminding me about my blessings.

  • Dear Aaron,
    What an experience! You got an “A+” on this test.
    Congratulations. You have encouraged a lot of people today with your attitude of gratitude. Awesome.

  • Hi,Aaron,
    Hopefully you are home now.Get well soon.Best wishes from the U>K

  • Wow, Aaron what an experience you have had. Thanks
    for sharing.I have heard of people going on mission
    trips, experiencing even worse that this. They come
    back with a whole new attitude. We all really are
    blessed. Glad you are back home and on the mend!
    .-= Jane Hiebert´s last blog ..Lessons For Growing Your Network Marketing Business =-.

  • Aaron, Glad to hear you are on tthe mend! You made the best of the situation and came thru well. You are a “Champion”! We have always felt blessed to be assosiated with you in any manner. God Blesses you and your family,.

  • Hi Aaron!

    So sorry to learn of your ordeal. I am glad that
    you are feeling better now!!! You are so right! We are all blessed to have the little things in life that we all take for granted!
    I wish you a speedy and full recovery and a belated Happy Father’s Day! You, Sophia, Carter, and Legend are often in my thoughts!

    Warmest regards !!!

  • Oh Aaron,
    I have always had respect for you but boy I have new respect for all you have been through and for keeping your sanity and your chin (or shall I say elbow) up!
    Happy Belated Father’s Day, Happy Belated Birthday (our son’s was the 10th) and welcome back to the land of the free, or at least free from what you’ve been through. Thank God you are healthy and back! I had to go to a clinic once in Canada and that was not pleasant but it was nothing compared to your experience! Heidi

  • Hi Aaron,
    We learn a lot from you experience in Norway. Get well soon. God bless always!

  • Aaron,
    God Bless You & a speedy recovery.All the best to you and your family.
    Your Friend,
    Mel

  • Dear Aaron,
    Thanks for sharing your story and great lessons from that. I am so glad to know that you are getting better now. Best wishes to you Aaron.
    Dung

  • Isn’t it interesting, on the flight there, you
    thought you had the world by the tail. Life was
    GOOD and you’re living it to its fullest.

    Unknown to you, no matter how much you were making
    monthly you could have easily died because of
    complications & just poor medical treatment.

    Talk about “lucky.” This can easily happen on your
    next “business/leisure” trip. A sobering thought.

    Hopefully you are or will help another in a country
    that doesn’t have it quite so good.

    Thanks for sharing, wishing you continued good
    health. I’ll remember this story every time I see
    your ads.

  • I follow your website for quite a lengthy time and must tell that your content articles always prove to be of a high value and high quality for readers.

  • Hi Aaron: Thanks for sharing your Norway experience. I am sure we all learned a lot from your ordeal that will help us as we move toward Global Prosperity.

  • After studying this I thought it was very informative. I recognize you taking the time to place this blog piece together. I as soon as once more find myself spending option to a lot time each reading and commenting. What ever, it was nonetheless worth it

  • Have you considered adding some social bookmarking links to these sites. At least for twitter.

  • Found tart cherry juice concentrate from my nurse for my gout pain. I began drinking a few weeks ago and my joints feel great. I even got free shipping. Found some great information about tart cherry juice

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