“Perseverance is a long word followed by a short attention span.”
While I wrote that quote for a recent weekly business column, it applies universally, especially so for patients.
If you’ve been in nursing for awhile, maybe you’ve observed what I’ve experienced firsthand – a decrease in the time patients, myself included, are willing to be patients. Attention spans for self-care shorten as our recoveries drag on from illness or surgery. Our society doesn’t do patienthood well anymore.
We want popcorn-ready recovery. Click a button, and presto – we’re done.
We live in an Instant Everything world. “Three seconds for a Web site to load??? Sheesh!” How that mentality affects recovery is a subject I touch on in my freshly published book, too.
As I note in the introduction (the ‘Check In’) to my book:
“We live in an Instant Gratification, Instant Everything world. Consequently, as patients, we might not have the skills needed to persevere while healing and recovery take their own sweet time. Perseverance is a dying art. The good news is we can regain those skills, especially when you lead the way.”
An excerpt from another chapter (complete with comment and question at end) recalls a time when I struggled with the patience to persevere. I underwent two record-book total hip revisions, six months apart. The non-weight-bearing walker I used for six months following each surgery allowed my bone grafts to heal.
“With the gracious help of lots of friends, family, and coworkers, I made it through the tumultuous post-surgical year of limited mobility. It was a trying time, even for someone ordinarily blessed with loads of patience.
The support and positive comments I received from [my surgeon] and his team at my periodic follow-up appointments encouraged me to keep going. Other patients made it through similar extended recovery times. I would, too.
I never thought I’d long to have my Walking Stick back. We don’t always know how good we have it until we don’t.
I knew I was feeling better a few months post-op when my patience with the walker was kaput. I could move so much quicker without it! It got in my way and slowed me down, and I had things to do.
While having been given strict orders to use my walker 100% of the time, and knowing the risks if I didn’t heal completely, I decided to compromise.
Using the walker in the traditional manner was too slow 100% of the time. So when I felt the need for speed, I began dragging the walker behind me. It was still with me. I was still using it.
We can justify anything, can’t we? In retrospect, it was a ridiculous move. But being the person living it at the time, it seemed a safe bet. I healed fully, in spite of myself. There are times this patient really should be fired.
UpShot: Patients like me must be wearing for professionals like you. All the work you do to make sure I have the best chance to fully heal, and I risk it because I’m impatient. I’ve heard of doctors firing patients for not conforming to orders. I’m grateful my [health care givers] stick with me through my own occasional self-sabotaging efforts.
The Stickability of Stick Together: Who sticks by you when your actions suggest that their efforts might be better spent elsewhere?”
You provide the necessary reminders for your patients to persevere through a full and proper recovery. Your patients will short-change themselves; we look to you for the encouragement our perseverance-depleted selves crave.
Reprinted with kindly permission from the Journal of Nursing Jocularity.