The Importance of Patience During Health Struggles


Growing up we are told to “be patient.” Starting from when we were just little ones, we would hear “be patient” from our parents as we relentlessly tugged on their clothes to get their attention. As adolescents, we would beg for the newest thing to keep up with the trends and fit in with our friends. “Be patient,” our parents nagged. As adults, we want our dream job right out of college, we want to own our own house as soon as we can and we yearn for our fairytale relationship that we so envy in other people. “Be patient,” we hear from all directions. In an environment where everything is so rushed, it’s hard to practice that particular advice we’ve been given since day one.

 

Patience is a weakness of mine. I’m notoriously impatient, actually. I have a bad habit of interrupting people when they talk, I sing lyrics to songs two seconds too early and I get so antsy waiting in lines that sometimes it physically pains me. But where I’ve been most impatient, lately, is with my health. I’ve been going through another bad spell – headaches pounding when I wake up that, more often than not, get worse as the day goes on. Leaving me frustrated and pouting, or pushing myself past my limits and making the pain worse.

I’ve made a lot of changes in my life recently, though, so I know there are multiple factors to consider when trying to figure out why my headaches have taken a turn for the worse again. I moved into a new house, I was on and off my narcolepsy medication, the season is changing, my allergies are kicking in, the list goes on and on.

But instead of being patient and taking it day by day, I’ve been jumping to conclusions quicker than most. I have been automatically assuming that it’s my house that’s making my head worse. Or that my chiropractic and botox treatments are no longer working. I always assume I’ve figured it all out and I’ll just never feel better.

Take it from me, it does not help to be impatient in this way. Well, it really doesn’t help to be impatient in any way, but you get the point.

For me and others who have multiple chronic illnesses, it’s so important to remind ourselves that there are so many different factors at play when it comes to our symptoms. It’s never just one thing for me that is causing my symptoms to flare up badly. My headaches are affected by countless factors: for example, humidity, allergies, the heat, my environment, how tired I am, exercise, stress, anxiety, etc., etc. It’s more often than not a combination of a variety of things. Which makes it very hard to pinpoint what is causing the flare. Which is why my impatience usually kicks in full gear – because I can’t pinpoint a reason and therefore cannot see an end to the flare in any foreseeable future.

So here’s where I tell you the words you’ve been hearing since day one: Be patient. Take it day by day, literally. Each day is a new day with the possibility that something may change – some things may get better. But the fact is, we won’t know until that new day comes. So take a deep breath, and be patient.

woman sitting on a blanket on the beach looking at the ocean

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayers.” – Romans 12:12

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