Monday, 24 October 2011

Becoming more patient.

This blog has been written specifically for the Patients For A Moment blog carnival.

My father was a doctor and listening to people being referred to as his "patient" was as ordinary and mundane as talk of the people who were referred to as his "friends".  Although we lived in a suburb in Sydney, there was still a small town village feel to the area and his "patients" were his "friends" and for that matter they were also my friends, schoolmates, neighbours, team-mates and their families.  Dad's patients were everywhere!  In my formative years when language and perception is developing the term patient was omnipresent.

Throughout most of my life I have been pretty healthy and to be honest I am still pretty healthy.  Maybe it is a little trip down DeNile that is making me disconnect being healthy from having a chronic condition (note the use of the word "condition" instead of "illness" which allows me to maintain the image of myself as healthy).  I'm not "unhealthy" I ache, I'm tired/dizzy/hurting/anxious/sore/hurting/aching/tired/itching/hurting (did I mention that before?) but I am not unhealthy.

Words are like little signposts with secret, private perceptions hanging on them; they never mean exactly the same thing to any two people and I have to be honest and admit that "patient" is not a trigger word or a sensitive word to me at all.  Yes, I am the "patient" of my health care professionals as I am the "client" of my accountant and the "customer" of my favourite stores.  That said, I do wonder if my view on being a "patient" might be different if I were an "Inpatient" rather than an "Outpatient", being a person who is "Out" in all things a prolonged "Inpatient" experience might be disturbing to my psyche.  Let me admit it here and now, I am an OutandProudPatient!

I love words and I especially love words with multiple meanings where the double entendre lies waiting for a humourous twist or an absurd, unique perception.  Patient, I am not, never have been.  I'm not part of the instant gratification generation but I still want things done yesterday.  Learning to live with a chronic condition has tap danced on my patience and forced me to reevaluate my approach to everything and in very real and concrete ways it has forced me to make significant adjustments to the pace of my life.  I can no longer leap from my seat into action I have to wait for my body to be ready to participate, wait for pain to recede, wait to get where I am going because my progress is often slow, wait for appointments, wait for test results, wait wait wait...  It's bloody hard for an impatient person to have patience forced upon them.  Breathe, relax, philosophize, chillax, in short be patient.


  1. Wow, can I relate to this!

    It took a long time for me to adjust to my body's new limitations and what they were going to mean for me...but, like you, I've never seen myself as "ill", just needing a little more time to do this, some adapted equipment to do that..."ill" implies that there's something about me that needs to be fixed, and I really don't feel that way.

    The terminology stuff...I've got a social services background, and terminology is a minefield! Some agencies prefer "client", others prefer "people we serve/support" Ministry is currently going with "consumer", which is the one I think I like the least...

  2. I think terms and the way political correctness has altered them are really fascinating subjects. I remember back 15 or 17 years ago when I was working in welfare delivery and we stopped calling our recipients either recipients or beneficiaries and started calling them customers which we (the staff) thought was ridiculous... how can you be a customer when you are not making a purchase? I know it was an attempt to change the stigma attached to receiving welfare and to align the relationship between the organization and the people who we served and I think it has changed things. Words are a powerful tool and subliminal mind shifts can change perspectives on a very broad scale sometimes. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I also don't have a problem with the term patient. I do think it would be harder if I were an In-Patient instead of Out-patient.
    I too think of myself as generally healthy. But in some ways I'm not...I know this, but if someone asked about my health I would say it's good.
    After all, I don't have high cholesterol, or diabetes...

    I don't think of being a patient means I'm ill. I go for a physical every year, I'm my doctor's patient, but it doesn't make me ill. Perhaps because I go for many wellness appointments, just things that make sure I'm still healthy, I don't think of being a patient means I'm sick.

    However, I'm not a very patient person in many instances. some better than others.

    a good submission to PFAM