Patience, or lack thereof

Tammy, my lymphedema specialist who I love and adore and
look forward to visiting, asked me a simple question yesterday:
When’s your reconstruction? I told her that the two surgeons’
offices (Dr S and Dr Spiegel) are supposed to be coordinating their
schedules and issuing a surgery date this week. I told her this
Monday afternoon, which for all intents & purposes, is this
week. In fact, this conversation took place in the afternoon of
this week, therefore in the far reaches of said time period. I
thought it was perfectly reasonable to expect to hear back from
those docs with my surgery date. After all, they’ve had since
Thursday to work on it. That’s plenty of time. Giddyup. She laughed
at me for being impatient. Good thing I love
and adore her, or else that might have made me mad. She’s gotten to
know me well in the last several months, and we’ve become friends.
She has educated me on the human lymph system and has schooled me
on how to (hopefully) continue unleashing a wicked forehand
(repeatedly, with great force, and multiple times a week) without
ending up looking like the “after” picture in the lymphedema
textbook. She knows I’ve been to a second surgeon and have decided
to venture forth toward yet another surgery, and I thought she knew
that I’m a very impatient patient. I don’t even know why the word
patient, meaning a person who requires medical
care, has be a homophone to the word meaning “the bearing of pain
or difficulty with calmness.” And I might even quibble with that: I
can bear pain & difficulty with calm, I just want to get
through it fast. Anyone who’s been a patient knows it’s hard to be
patient. If you haven’t learned this first-hand, trust me. I know
of which I speak. Lots has been written about patience. Everyone
from Shakespeare to Guns ‘N Roses has addresses this fragile human
condition. My favorite allusion by the Bard to the patience
principle is in Othello: “How poor are they that have not patience!
What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” I feel like Shakespeare
has been peeping in my windows again. I could show him color photos
of a wound healing by degree (but won’t gross y’all out by posting
them here). I have a bar graph, too, showing the wound dimensions
and how they changed, by degree. I’m serious about the photos and
graph. Alexandre Dumas, perhaps the most famous French writer of
the 19th century, knew enough about patience to utter this: “All
human wisdom is summed up in two words — wait and hope.” I’m good
with the latter, not so much with the former. And if it takes
patience to gain wisdom, forget it; I’m out. Not that I’m
particularly impulsive, but once I make a decision and set my
course of action, I’m ready to get to it. Now, not later. Leo
Tolstoy wrote that “the two most powerful warriors are patience and
time.” Egads, I’m double-hosed. We’ve all heard time & time
again that patience is a virtue. I don’t quibble with this ancient
wisdom, I just don’t happen to possess that virtue. I’m sure Dr S
is still laughing at me begging him to let me go home from the
hospital the day after my mastectomy. I was ready to get outta
there and get on with my life. Not so fast, lady. Ben Franklin
wrote that “He that can have patience can have what he wants.” I
always though he was kind of a smart-ass. And why can’t I have what
I want without being patient? Where’s the Burger King motto in all
this? I want to have it my way, and my way is now. Right now. St.
Augustine was probably very patient. He too linked patience to
wisdom: “Patience is the companion of wisdom.” Whatever. I
understand all these ancient guys speaking about patience: the
world moved at a much slower pace back then. They’d probably flip
their wigs if they knew of the modern world and all its speediness.
Imagine those guys seeing a bullet train, or the Autobahn, or even
Loop 610 in Houston, and not even at rush hour. What about a
conveyor belt flanked by factory workers, producing goods from
digital watches to cars in a hurry? Or drive-through food or pizza
delivery? I don’t think any of the pizza chains offers “30 minutes
or it’s free” anymore, but still, when I order a pizza online, Papa
John has it ready in 2 shakes of a lamb’s tail. (such a cute little
expression, right?) The point is that these esteemed writers,
thinkers, and movers & shakers can blab all they want about
being patient, and I will listen (impatiently) and consider what
they say (as I rush off to do the next thing on my list). But I
still want it my way, which is now. 


7 Comments on “Patience, or lack thereof”

  1. Ed says:

    Patience, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.
    -Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary”

  2. alexae67 says:

    Hi! I came across your blog kind of by chance, and I’ve only read this post, but your mentioning of reconstruction made me prick up my ears. I’ve got lymphedema, too, but in my leg, and have had it pretty much all my life (I’m 20). I’m interested in reconstruction but a friend of my mother’s who is a plastic surgeon said I wouldn’t be able to do it because of the lymphedema. Could you tell me a little about it, since obviously it can be done?
    Thanks, and best of luck to you!!🙂

  3. […] me, the impatient patient, 30 days is a long time. I really thought that at this point, I’d be back to normal and if […]

  4. […] I’ve mentioned before in this space that I’m not good at lying around, being lazy, and doing that thing called relaxing. What is this practice of which people speak? Apparently I missed the memo, because I’m no good at it. […]

  5. […] almost gone. For real. The bad news is that the healing is ongoing. Why is that bad news? Because I’m impatient, man, and I’m ready to be done with this stage so I can get back to my regular life — […]

  6. […] Even the return address sticker is beautiful and exotic.The package was so pretty I waited a while to open it. And y’all know I hate waiting.  […]

  7. […] a previous recovery–for which surgery, I don’t even recall–I explored some words of wisdom on the topic of patience. A few of my […]


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