Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Patient Mode

I have once again been in what I call 'The Patient Mode".  This is based on the mode we take when we are ill or injured, and other people take care of us.  I had surgery on my left hand for trigger thumb in January, and just had the same surgery for my right hand five days ago.  I am really looking forward to using my hand in a normal fashion again.  For the last couple of weeks leading up to the surgery, my right thumb would stick in either the straight position or the bent position, and I had to fight to get it to move from one to the other, and when it did, it would snap and hurt alot. I was able to use it within a day or two of the surgery, but won't get full range of motion until the stitches are removed in two weeks. It will be a little longer after that until I can open jars, and things like that.  Of course, I will still have the arthritis to contend with, but at least part of the problem will be fixed.
So, about the 'patient mode'.  I kinda like having other people do things for me, but I get easily bored and restless.  After the surgery, I let myself not be responsible for anything (except getting to the bathroom on time, and things like that).  Of course, typical woman that I am, I made a big pot of soup the night before, so meals were not an issue.  The full 'patient mode' lasted all of a day, now I am in 'recovering patient mode': I do most things myself, but readily ask for help.
I think it is important to allow yourself to be in the 'patient mode' when you have had recent surgery, acute illness or injury that incapacitates you, and for really bad pain, fatigue, etc. days.  It is equally important to get yourself out of the 'patient mode' and doing more for yourself as quickly as you can.  Staying in the 'patient mode' too long alters your perception of who you are.  If you view yourself as 'the patient', 'the sick one', or other similar roles, you take on the characteristics of that role.  You forget the capable parts, and learn to expect others to do everything for you.  You become dependent on others, and let them run your life.  Or, you become dependent on others, and you yell at them because things weren't done your way.
Please understand- it is not the being dependent on others that I want you to beware of.  If you truly can't do certain things, there is no shame in being dependent on others for those things.  What I am warning about is letting that dependence define who you are.
Think about this:  I know someone who broke his leg, and it didn't heal properly.  He now walks with a pronounced limp.  He is angry, demanding, the world owes him (what, I am not sure).  I know someone else who broke his neck in a diving accident when he was in his early 20's.  He owns his own company, drives a car modified for his abilities, and calls the shots in his life.  He is physically dependent on others for many basic needs, but he doesn't let that define him.  Which one of those people would you rather be?
Personally, I would rather be more physically disabled, and more mentally/emotionally functional than to be more physically able but less mentally/emotionally functional.  I don't let my illnesses define me.  They are just part of who I am.  If they put me in the 'patient mode', I accept it, but work my way out of it and get back to taking care of business.
Happy first day of spring!  I am going out to clean up my gardens, but only with my left hand.  That should be a challenging experience!

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