Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Get Well, Jim!

We never really think about it much, but it truly is frightening how fragile we are, and how suddenly everything - our own world and the world of everyone around us - can change.

I have not talked much on this blog about what I do for a living. I've been in direct marketing, working with the same company, Visions Marketing Services, for nearly 14 years.  For the better part of that time, our focus had been in the home equity and debt consolidation fields, bringing solutions to people in need in the form of our clients' products: refinances, home equity loans, etc.  When the economy went south a couple years ago, we went from being as profitable as we'd been in 30 years to having to lay off 90% of our staff across two divisions, and in fact shutting down one of those divisions - the one I had been running for nearly five years.  I was kept on board and have spent the past two years helping to rebuild the company and  carve out a new path for us.  We are now in the Long Term Care industry, and the vehicle with which we are again reaching out to help people is The Long Term Care Association.

Through the Association, we seek to educate people about the things Long Term Care can do to you, and what Long Term Care Insurance can do for you.  We are a hub for Agents who sell Long Term Care Insurance to find the best resources for transactionally modeled leads, prospect qualification, scheduling appointments with potential customers, and creating proposal. On the consumer side, we offer a way to connect those who wish to learn more about Long Term Care Insurance and find out if it is the right choice with local Agents who are knowledgeable and capable.

Over the past two years, I went from knowing nothing about Long Term Care to learning quite a bit.  There are some startling statistics, but none give as much pause to consider "what if" than this: over 40% of people currently receiving Long Term Care in this country are under the age of 65.

Think about that for a moment.  Most people think of Long Term Care as something they won't need to worry about until they are older, probably well into retirement.  But for 4 out 10, it is something they are dealing with while still in what wold be termed their "working years."
This statistic was made all too real for me this morning. Got up and had my usual coffee and cereal, and fired up the computer, preparing for another workday (I work from home most of the time).  My first stops are usually Facebook and Twitter, just to see what has been posted overnight.  It was on Facebook that I learned of an accident that had befallen one of my high school classmates.

Jim Sebest and I did not run in the same circles back then; in fact, Jim was at times among those who delighted in tormenting me.  But at his core Jim always was a good guy, funny and likeable. Apparently, according to the CaringBridge.org website that has been set up for him, Jim and his family were on vacation at Bethany Beach last week, and Jim was enjoying the surf.  He dove into a wave, and the best they can tell is that he hit his head on the sand. He suffered a fractured vertebrae in his neck, and is presently paralyzed from the neck down.  The good news is that, after undergoing 8 hours of surgery on Friday, his doctors saw no signs of severing or lacerations of the spinal cord, but there is severe swelling and no telling how long that will last.

I had just seen Jim for the first time in 25 years at our Class Reunion in July.  I didn't get to talk with him much - as I said, we didn't run with the same crowds - but despite showing the same signs of being 40+ that we all shared, he seemed to have barely changed.  He was laughing and joking with friends, and had taken part in the Reunion Golf Outing that morning.  Less than a month later, he's in a hospital bed, unable to move or speak and needing a ventilator tube to breathe.

With a little luck, and the thoughts, prayers, love and support of his family and friends, Jim will recover.   Having no indication of severe spinal cord damage means his chances are excellent to regain full mobility.  Think for a moment of those who have had similar accidents, but whose luck was worse.  Think of those who will never recover, those who will spend the rest of their lives unable to move, speak, or breathe on their own. Think of how their lives are changed - how your life would be changed if it happened to you.  Jim was a classmate of mine, so we're roughly the same age, yet I never think of myself as someone who may need Long Term Care in the near future.  At least, I never really thought about until today.

Jim, all my best thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family, and I wish for you a speedy recovery.  I want to read about you leaping up out of that bed very soon.
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