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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