Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude whilst waiting. – Joyce Meyer
There is nothing like hospitals to teach you the virtues of being patient.
I am writing this, in hospital, after a relapse. Neurologists think I have a recurring CSF leak which perhaps exacerbates post traumatic migrane symptoms from my original concussion.
When better to write a post on patience!
Hospitals require patience.
Patients need hospitals
Learning to be a patient patient is hard.
Being unwell makes being patient so much harder. You go to hospital because you are unwell. Being unwell is unpleasant. Your ability to function normally is challenged. You just want to get fixed, get better and go home.
But often instead you have to:
Then wait a bit more!
The wonderful medical staff are so busy with all the patients trying to be patient whilst ill. Which can’t be easy.
So everything takes a while.
When my husband brought me to A&E, a couple of days ago, I was having one of my ‘drunk like’ episodes. Basically amidst all the head pressure, dizziness and general head & neck pain, my head also goes a bit funny and I act rather tipsy. (A symptom that has appeared occasionally when things have got bad. Which wasn’t helped by waiting sitting upright for so long – which is not helpful if you are leaking Cerebral Spinal Fluid).
All this meant I waited in the A&E assessment waiting room a bit like a small unwell child.
Reading all the signs out loud,
And asking my husband every five mins:
“When is it my go?”.
I kid you not – that is literally how it was!
Why is waiting so hard?
- We are not used to it.
- It feels like a waste of time.
- It can make us feel anxious or frustrated.
- We want quick fixes and quick answers.
- We are too used to our fast paced world.
Perhaps, if we realised there are lessons to be learned from waiting, we would embrace times of waiting more easily. Maybe then we would not allow ourselves to get so frazzled.
I am speaking to myself as much as anyone else as I write this. There is nothing like a lesson learned in real time, as I wrote in my last post Breaking Free! From Self Pity. And there is nothing like being ‘stuck’ in hospital to refine your waiting skills.
It’s a challenge to say the least.
But we must try to find positives in hard times or we will become consumed by the difficulties. Being frustrated, annoyed and impatient usually does nothing to help the process and certainly doesn’t help get you better.
I do know how hard this is though, especially when you feel desperately ill.
My first night after being admitted was tough. I wasn’t in the best way (although not ‘as bad’ once I actually got to lie down flat of course). I was on a medical ward because they firstly wanted to rule out a brain infection, such as meningitis, so I had lots of doctors coming to check me out.
During the night I somehow laid on the cannula they had put in my arm and pulled it out. Once I realised, and had called the nurse, I looked down and saw the bed and me covered in a pool of blood, from it leaking.
The nurse came, sorted out the cannula and started changing my bed and I got myself to the loo to try and change. (which was a challenge in itself because my walking and balance were affected by my general CSF leak/ post concussion heady symptoms). But in true Becky Hill style I was intent on doing it myself and thought I felt OK enough to manage.
How wrong I was!
I started to try and clean myself up and during the process pretty much fainted, but seeing as I was by then half undressed and smeared in blood, whilst trying to wash the blood out of my clothes, I thought I would try again, not wanting the nurses to have to rescue me.
Unfortunately, that was wishful thinking and in almost passing out again, I managed to unlock the door and ring the emergency buzzer.
I was lying on that hospital toilet floor, feeling extreamly weak, desperately vulnerable and overwhelmingly nauseous. I then had to wait for someone to hear the buzzer and come.
I could hardly move, hardly talk and certainly couldn’t look after myself in that moment.
But I still had to wait.
It probably wasn’t even that long before the nurse came. But it felt like forever. Listening to that buzzer, hoping someone would come.
Trust me I know how hard it is to wait when you are desperate.
It turned out my blood pressure was very low and the wonderful nurses put a lovely hospital gown round me and wheeled me back to bed, the doctors came and they had to give me IV fluids to help sort me out.
Waiting can be so hard, especially when we are feeling weak, vulnerable and desperate.
It’s also hard to get waiting right in those moments. (Hopefully others can then empathise more with our impatience in those moments).
In general though, we can all learn to wait more patiently in both easy and harder times. Here are some of the ways the process of waiting can help us.
1. Waiting teaches us how to be patient.
Well that’s obvious, isn’t it?
But it’s not always the case. Waiting is often enforced upon us and hence it is something we ALL complain and get frustrated about.
Who likes enforced waiting? It’s just down right annoying isn’t it?
Yes it is! However, being patient brings peace and a lot less stress during difficult times. Stress just produces tension in our bodies and minds and usually just makes the whole ‘waiting’ experience more traumatic than it needs to be.
We may still need to challenge the process and find out if all the waiting is really necessary. But we can do that from a place of peace and understanding rather than anger and frustration.
2. Waiting can help our empathy of others’ difficulties.
When I have to wait, especially in a hospital, it’s easy to start to look around and try to work out how important my case is compared to others.
If we are not careful the selfish tendency we all have kicks in and we are blinded by our own problems and cannot even begin to see the difficulties others face.
‘Me, me, what about me!’
Patience instead allows us to show more empathy to others around us and see the difficulties they face as well.
3. Waiting can be an opportunity to rest.
We are often not very good at resting when it also involves waiting. I know that I am certainly not! We complain about our busyness and then can’t cope with resting either.
This is because enforced rest is often neither convenient or welcomed – because we can’t choose it or use it how we want.
It feels like a colossal inconvenience and a waste of our precious time. Which may well be the case.
However, rest is a good thing when used correctly. Sometimes it is only thorough rest that complete healing comes. But only if we let go of our anxiety in the process and attempt to fill our thoughts with better things.
4. Waiting increase our endurance.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character…” (Romans 5:3-4 The Bible)
Endurance is a great virtue. Without endurance we won’t get very far in life. It is endurance that spurs us to keep on keeping on, even when the going gets really tough.
It enables us to push through difficulties and come out stronger the other side. Without endurance we become floored by every trial, however small. We give up trying, aiming or working towards better things.
Patience brings us peace amidst the storm because we stop allowing the storm to control our feelings and actions.
In this way, we not only ‘survive the storm’ but we can ‘thrive in the storm,’ because ultimately that which came and brought chaos in our lives, actually produces more peace, contentment and thankfulness.
Maybe if we see things differently we will no longer fight ‘waiting’ so much. Maybe we will instead find a way to embrace it, with wisdom, allowing it to do the work in us it can do;
If we will just let it.
“Without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less.” – Mother Teresa
Next time you have to wait. Have a look around you and perhaps ask yourself:
What can I learn, see, hear and feel from this process?
How can I contribute to a peaceful atmosphere amidst the wait and even in challenging it?
To read more about my journey since my concussion and CSF Leak please see my first post here.
To read more about my ongoing story of living with a chronic spinal CSF Leak click here.
Here is a brilliant 2 min animation about Spinal CSF leaks.