The Impatient Patient
Having recently undergone a minor surgery for an ongoing knee problem, I am all too aware of the impact acute or chronic illness can have on emotional health & wellbeing. For people with a chronic or enduring health problem, feelings of hopelessness can easily overwhelm.
Any physical health issue that limits daily functioning or the ability to fulfil responsibilities and commitments can have a negative impact on mood. This can lead to a mindset of inadequacy and be detrimental to self confidence. Where the most simple of daily tasks are a challenge or completely out of the question, feelings of frustration can slip into feelings of despair. People are often defined by what they do rather than who they are.
Ill health can lead to isolation, being housebound can trigger fear of leaving the safety of home and venturing into the outside world. My first trip out consisted of me blinking into the light like a nervous but liberated pit pony.
Pain is exhausting and wearing and can manifest in behaviours of agitation and irritability. This tends to be aimed at the people acting in a caring capacity. As well as potential for conflict, there is often a change in role. The patient may usually be the care giver, fixer and co-ordinator. While this is demoralising for them the person who is out of necessity providing care may feel discombobulated and under appreciated.
In the event of acute illness or injury, the option of preparation is not possible and there is the additional issue of rapidly adjusting to change as well as the stress and worry of the impact on yourself or loved ones.
In the lead up to my surgery the constraints placed on my daily living and choices were beginning to take their toll. On reflection I was unaware how significantly my thoughts and feelings were being negatively effected, this became apparent as my mood took a considerable upturn post surgery. Although only a minor surgery I had some anxieties about the procedure and the potential aftermath. In spite of reassurances from trusted friends and
professionals, I was plagued by thoughts of, “What if?” This unhelpful thinking prompted me to take action. I contacted fellow wellbeing practitioners and began gathering self help products and advice to assist my recovery. In situations of limited possibilities, seeking out what is in your control and doing something definitely increases feelings of empowerment.
When debating the issue of self care with other talking therapists, it emerged that this is an ongoing battle within us. This led me to question if our cognitive understanding into what makes us tick increases, does this move us away from our instincts to self soothe? It reminded me of the old saying of, ‘the cobblers children having no shoes.’
Following surgery I am ashamed to admit my levels of impatience and irritation around my pace of recovery. To say I pushed the boundaries is an understatement, this coupled with surly indignation towards my nearest and dearest not only for admonishing me but for ‘grassing me up’ to other loved ones and medical professionals.
Many lessons have been learned about patience, acceptance and self nurturing. Feeling vulnerable and not on form also regurgitated unpleasant memories and feelings from previous defenceless experiences. The biggest lesson learned has been the undeniable links between physical and more importantly emotional fragility. The upside of this experience is I can genuinely appreciate the benefits of a positive mindset and outlook and how fundamental they can be to a successful recovery and in managing long term or chronic conditions.