The 'Hurry Up and Wait' Process of Chronic Illness


They always say “Patience is a virtue,” but for someone living with an invisible illness such as my dysautonomia/postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), it is something that is hard to come by at times. Part of it may be society today — we are a “I want it now” society in general, but when you are not feeling well it can be difficult waiting for the day that I am going to feel at least better.

For me, medication and medication changes challenge my patience. It often takes months to find the exact dosage of medications and much tweaking before you find the perfect amount your body wants to make the correct changes to your system. Is it perfect? Definitely not, but sometimes our goal living with a chronic illness is just to feel better than you do. I dread the news of a new medication! How will it affect me? Will it work? How long will it take until they find the proper dosage?

We, of course, have many other aspects of chronic illness in which patience comes into play. How many hours have we waited at a doctor’s appointment or waited to get an appointment with a doctor? How many of us really want to do something, but have to wait for a “good” day to do it? For me every morning requires patience waiting for my morning meds to “kick in” so I will be able to function. Yes, it is a hurry up and wait process.

Some people may be more genetically predisposed to having the ability to be patient more than others. Some people’s tolerance for feeling crappy or in pain may be stronger than others. Others must find ways to gain the patience they don’t naturally have. So what can you do to gain this patience? I will share a few things that I do which may work for some and not for others.

Have faith! If it helps you, draw on your higher power for comfort and hope. I find a daily devotion that seems to put things in perspective or at least give me something to think about.

Keep busy! I find this the most helpful. I busy myself with numerous little “projects” to keep my mind occupied and make the time go faster. They don’t have to be big things, just something that keeps you from thinking about the other things you don’t want to. It could be a book, a crossword puzzle, making lists of things to do when you feel like it, watching a good documentary, movie, or TV show, listening to music, or a hundred other little things.

Find some kind of hobby. I am naturally a collector so I enjoy my collections of various things, organizing them, reexamining them, or hunting for new things on the internet. Find something you enjoy and that takes up a little time.

Have a support network. Talk to friends or family. Keep active on social media or in person. Sometimes it feels like we are locked in our own small world. We have to find ways of interacting even if we can’t physically be out there doing all the things we wish we were.

Lastly, try and find pleasure in the small and the simple things. Get outside in the fresh air. Find beauty in nature and small gestures, give out kind words, do what you can for others. Things have a way of returning to you.

I know this small article may be of very little help, for all of our “patience” reserves get depleted at times! I guess when that happens all we can do is “hurry up and wait!”

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