It was not too long ago when I was an impatient patient. Have you ever been an impatient patient? If you have ever been admitted to the hospital for any length of time, as was I, then you know a little of what I am talking about. This was a few years back when I underwent open heart surgery. It was quite an experience to say the least. I got excellent care. The staff said I was a very good patient. Not much I could do to be an annoying patient. I had wires, tubes, and everything else hooked up to my anatomy. I felt that I must have looked like one of those huge electrical grids that we see alongside the road, all with a large chain link fence circling them.
Because my numbers weren’t right (blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen level, etc.) the doctor told me that I would have to remain in the hospital another day. I had already spent three weeks, watching an outside world, all beginning to look like ne big beautiful garden. Everything was coming alive. I was coming alive too, but not fast enough. I did thank God that I was even alive: thanks to a great team of doctors and staff.
But gradually and with a new intensity, I had this strong desire to to free myself from whatever kept me from getting free. I know what it was: it was the numbers. Always the numbers. So, the day came, finally, and the doctor tells me that if the numbers were right I could go home. Home! That word spoken by the one who had the power to free me. Yes, I could go home– tomorrow! (That was like the big sign behind the bartender which read in big red letters “Free Beer tomorrow!” Tomorrow comes and yes, Free beer tomorrow!). I knew from past experience, that that “tomorrow” always came with a conditional “maybe” tomorrow.
That was it. . . I was suffering from what I felt was a terminal case of “cabin fever.” “Cabin fever” can only be cured by getting out of the cabin. We all know that. So, I asked the doctor how I could go home today (the day was Friday) as there was no use staying the weekend waiting for my numbers to come down. The doctor told me, because I had to have a certain medicine over the next 48 hours to keep my numbers at the right place, I must give myself some prescribed shots , and then come back the following Monday for a check on my numbers. Other than that, I was good to be released.
The nurse came in and with a few practice shots– on an orange no less, and then I was good to go! Halleluja! By this time, most of my tubes and wires had gradually been removed, one after another. Another patient told me that this was a good sign when they started removing wires from one’s torso. My mind went to another possible reason, but I won’t go there now.
Home. And all it took was just to give myself two shots a day. No problem. My numbers finally returned to where numbers need to be for a good recovery and so it all worked out. Thanks to the medical team, first of all, that gave me my life back!
Fast forward to today, as I look back over life before my experience with depression. The sadness, the lethargy, my whole body seemed to want to go into hibernation. Sleep. And more sleep. And when I could hardly get myself out of bed in the morning. reality hit me in the face. I had something that I didn’t have a name for. I was immobilized. So, I started walking. Walking. Walking. I knew that I was continually feeling very sad. Sometimes like weeping.
My life before was a life of “hurry” for this and a “hurry ” for that. I couldn’t stuff enough of life into my daily schedule. And then my discovery that I had clogged arteries and need open heart surgery as soon as could be scheduled. But what about my planned vacation, my clients, my books I was working on ? I couldn’t just sit by and let things slide.
OK. I said. Obviously I was in denial. We are talking about saving my life here and I was worrying about nothing really. That was before my numbers helped me face the truth about myself. The talk with the heart surgeon definitely grabbed my attention. I got it! I needed open heart surgery! No denial now.
I got it that my life, the “hurry” and the “impatience” that had produced the stress, a diet filled with all sorts of food that was bad for me as well as a life without exercise. I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t slow down. I was always in a rush–a hurry to get to the next important thing, a meeting or whatever pushed me into serious health problems.
Today is different. Once back in recovery, both from a physical standpoint as well as from a mental health standpoint, I have learned how to relax, how to spend time alone with my God as well as to set small goals which are attainable and healthy for each new day. My prayer time and my meditating on the spiritual principles of the 12 steps, plus taking time out for my Depressed Anonymous meetings on a regular basis. I also have a regular sponsor who helps me over the times when I am in a “hurry” and shoving too much activity into a life filled with activity. I have the tools to slow down and live. These are a musty now in my daily life!
My new self with an awareness of staying out of the “hurry” has helped my being patient with whatever negative situations life throws at me. I think before I act. I think before I make decisions and do not rush into anything without first “looking both ways” (as I learned in Kindergarten) many years ago.
And BTW my numbers are great: 120-130 over 80. Heart rate 70’s.
Check out the TOOLS for Recovery here at this website www. depressedanon.com
Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY