Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Patient Patient

I am not an early person, most often despite trying my best I am inevitably late.  It was quite chronic in my mid twenties, and I was one of those people that my friends literally told me a Christmas Party started an hour before it did - I remember walking into the restaurant with my friend Melanie (who came with me, but didn't know the people throwing the party) and she said, "are you sure we are at the right place?" and sure enough about twenty minutes later everyone started filtering in - i was twenty minutes early by being forty minutes late!

However,  this all changes when we are talking about doctor appointments, I hate being late.  My doctor just said to me yesterday, "you know, you don't have to call if you are running late, I know you will be here"  I am lucky, the longest I have had to wait for an appointment since I have been here is about 45 minutes, and that was one time only.  I remember being at Mayo Clinic and that's all you did is go from one waiting area to another.  All of us patients duitfully sitting on our chairs, staring straight ahead, waiting for your name to be called.  Then you wait in another room while you are waiting for the doctor.  Us patients are expected to be patient.

So the other day as I raced to get to my appointment in time, only to wait to be taken, I was curious about the word patient.  Turns out it is taken from "suffering" from the Latin 'verb patior' "i am suffering" and the Greek 'paskhein' "to suffer"- I feel like one of those kids from Spellbound - can you use it in a sentence - "I am sick and tired of being a patient patient".  Some sites go on to say that as a noun it refers to the "capacity for calm waiting" "someone who suffers their affliction with calmness and composure." Hmm - calmness - not really - composure - I usually put on a pretty good act.  It interesting that now many health care facilities use other words such as "client" or "resident" in the case of Nursing Home settings, to "empower" us patients - lets cut through the BS most doctors expect a patient to be just that - I am always  patient with my current physician because she deserves that respect - others I have encountered have gotten anything but a calm and composed patient patient - I can thank my grandpa for that genetic trait...
Patient Word Origin

My dad's father George was a notorious impatient patient.  After his open heart surgery the surgeon came out and yelled at my dad saying, "your father is the worst patient ever!"  He was known to call for a drive by pick up outside of Colomba St. Mary's - my mom remembers clear as day driving on the East side of Milwaukee as George stood there on the street with hospital gown and his coat, spouting the "F" bomb and wanting to get the hell out of that place.  Rules.  Patients are expected to follow lots of rules.  George was never fond of anyone telling him what to do - especially a doctor - as he said - "your paying for them, not the other way around."  He couldn't stand the white coat superiority complex that many had, when knowledge was a guarded secret power before the days of the internet.

So I did get lucky where I never had that "doctor as God" complex, and only push back when I have been pushed to my limit.  Despite all that,  you still won't catch me making doctors wait for me.  I know what buttons not to push.  I'm not stupid, and I recognize the difficulty of doctors striving to be on time. I'm lucky that my appointments aren't scheduled into 12.5 minutes - like most insurance companies dictate - which is a recipe for disaster.  So I sit calmly and composed waiting for my name to be called, because not only do I respect my doctor's time - more importantly I am mindful of the other patient patients like myself, and will not impose on them any further calm waiting than is necessary.


  1. I too know all about being the patient patient. I'm in the process if being formally diagnosed with CFS even though it's taken about 4 years to do so. As for being patient, about once a week I'll sit in some form of waiting area either staring straight ahead, maybe having a nap if they're running late, or desperately trying to ignore the screaming children that seem to occupy most of these places - I don't know about you but sometimes even the smallest noises can tire you out let alone a screaming child.

    1. The noises were very surprising to me, and it took awhile for me to consciously recognize how that was a trigger - although music doesn't bother me thankfully! but it can't be anything too loud or with a non predictable beat - that just jars my system -any overstimulation to my senses can be a trigger

      good luck - getting a diagnosis helps mentally - i don't know if you follow Sue Jackson's blog - but she has a lot of valuable information - and despite hating the title - the book From Fatigue to Fantastic is also useful - my biggest suggestion is to get baselines of infections and hormones - b/c many of us don't fit the "typical" lab protocols d/t our dysfunctional immune system.


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