Confessions of a bad patient


I confess I’m a bad patient. Well, not bad in the sense of non-compliant. I’m not one of those people who doesn’t take all of her antibiotic, and then saves the left-over antibiotic in order to incompletely treat the next illness. (Yes, I know who you are.) No, I’m not THAT kind of bad patient. But, I’m not a patient patient. I think of myself as  a hardy, resilient person, ready to bounce back from every setback. Those rules for recovery apply to other people, not to me. Being ill, or in my case, recovering from surgery, seems like such  a waste of time that I’ll push myself to recover faster and better, even if, well even if it just plain wears me out. I just  want to be done with it.

I had surgery on my shoulder just over two weeks ago. Originally the doctor said I “…could probably go back to work after two weeks,” so two weeks to  the day I scheduled myself back at work. It didn’t take me very long to find out that was a bad idea. About nine o’clock I was ready to put my head down on the desk and take a little nap, then again at ten, and eleven, and so on until my husband finally came to pick me up from my extra-long half day. The next day when I dutifully went for my two-week follow-up, the doc said, “so when do you think you’ll be ready to go back to work?” No problem doc, already done. Turns out a little too soon, but that’s what happens when you think you’re hardy. I’ll know better next time. Well, maybe.

Two days after surgery I was making muffins in the kitchen, adapting everything to doing it one-handed and coercing my son to help me with stirring and scooping. It made a terrible mess, but better than sitting around doing nothing all day, and we had healthy bran muffins to boot.

My instructions said “no strenuous activity until the follow-up appointment,” but what’s strenuous about a gentle bike ride on the trainer? I worked pretty well until I got done and found out I couldn’t manage to get out of my sweaty clothes in my one-armed state. Hey, I’m sure my husband didn’t mind leaving work to come help me get undressed.

Being a bad patient is probably not all bad. Studies of resiliency have shown that the qualities that resilient people show, such as adaptability, humor, optimism and flexibility help them cope and adjust to stressful situations. If you are not already a resilient person, don’t worry. Resiliency can be learned and cultivated. You can practice adopting the ten qualities of a resilient person, until it become part of you. It’s never too late. (After all, optimism is one of the qualities.) Although, I do admit, that should I ever have surgery again, I’ll definitely take a few things a little slower. Now excuse me – it’s time for my nap.

© Huffygirl 2012

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22 thoughts on “Confessions of a bad patient

    • You are right Lisa. You’ve probably been, or will be in the same boat at some time.

      I tried spin class today – went easy, just did 35 minutes, and I think it went okay. Will be able to tell later, when I either feel fine, or end up taking two naps.

  1. See, I never had this problem. When I had my appendix taken out a few years ago, the doctor said to stay home 2 weeks. No problem. Then he said I could go back to work but that I should work short weeks. No problem. I milked it for everything it was worth. 🙂

    • OF course I do. They’re part of my social network (#8), help me vent my sense of humor (#10), foster optimism (#1) and many (like you) serve as resilient role model (#5). I am starting to feel better – thanks. Now I just have to beat the fatigue.

  2. Your husband is having quite the experience with bras, removal of sweaty clothes. I bet he goes to sleep every night thinking “Can’t wait to wake up tomorrow.” ROFL.

    Huffy, you make me laugh. You have such a good spirit.

    • Thanks Margaret. If I’m making you laugh, I’ve met my goal.

      My husband has been a pretty good sport about the whole thing I must say. Not every husband would be willing to leave work just to help their wife get undressed, unless there was more to it than that!

  3. I know your thought process. I hate being laid up for more than a couple days. Like you, I am not a patient person. Even learning new things, I want to know it all immediately and feel bad when I don’t do everything perfectly, even in the learning stages.

  4. You made me laugh too, so I think you’ve got the last quality of a resilient person down pat (Have a sense of humor… and laugh frequently.). I’m glad you’re feeling a little better, and hope that you beat the fatigue soon.

  5. I’m not very patient–but I would’ve taken the two weeks. On the other hand, if I could keyboard without difficulty, I would’ve been making lesson plans and worksheets like crazy.

  6. I was nodding along and laughing as I read this post. I’ve always been that bad patient who is goes ‘I’m feeling ok’ when I obviously need all the rest I can get. However I really think that this spirit of optimism and resilience is a great thing to have as a patient – we probably recover a lot faster simply because we think we can 🙂

  7. Hey, after reading your post about the hospital gown which only showed up in my email today, I came to this one and realized your hospital stay was in 2012…not recently here in 2015!!

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