Last week began like any other. I usually play catch-up on Monday, my favorite day of the week. It gives me a chance to recover from the weekend, which generally involves seeing people outside of our home, something I find to be draining.
As I settled into my recliner to start researching for my book, my phone rang. It was 9 a.m. and unusually early for a call. I picked up and was surprised to hear my father’s voice, but I quickly snapped into action as he explained the reason for his call.
My mother had been taken into emergency surgery for a perforated bowel. Things were moving relatively fast at the hospital, and Dad couldn’t talk long as he was about to accompany her down to the operating room.
It was interesting to observe my reaction. I don’t move quickly at the best of times, simply because I can’t. With a much clearer diagnosis for my heart, I now understand the reasons for my snail-like pace. (More on that diagnosis in my next column.) Despite my inability to race anywhere, I have noticed that my slow movement gives me more time to consider what I am doing and where I am going.
As I gathered some items for Mum, I found that working out all of the things that she needed for her hospital stay had become second nature to me. As a scleroderma patient, I’ve been through this routine on many occasions. As I shuffled to my car, I decided that I needed to stop at the supermarket on my way to the hospital. I was mentally compiling a list of the things she would need, including her phone charger, a water bottle, wet wipes, and lip balm.
Being an experienced patient with a chronic disease has made me a better visitor. When one goes through something as frequently as I have, it is easier to be empathetic toward others who are in a similar position. Though it is unfortunate that I have had to learn these things, it is a blessing that I can offer my experience to others to help ease their situation.
As I drove into the city to the hospital, I felt pleased that I could find this blessing amid the adversity that comes from being chronically unwell. During the following week, while I visited Mum in the hospital, I also noticed that most patients were able to find something good amid their suffering. My mother’s desire for positivity revealed itself in the question she asked soon after regaining conscious following her surgery: “I wonder when I’ll be able to go home again?”
I have heard other patients ask a similar question of their doctors and relatives many times when I’ve been in the hospital, as a patient and a visitor. I find it amazing that our hope for things to get better kicks in even when we are at our lowest. Following surgery or an adverse event, our first thoughts are, “I wonder when things will get better. I wonder how soon I can go home.”
Just as the spring bulbs break through the earth searching for the sunlight, humans look for a better tomorrow, even when we are feeling our worst.
Mum is recovering well. I’ve reaffirmed my belief that we continue to hope for our circumstances to improve. I find this to be a wonderful blessing in these uncertain times.
Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.