Patience was never one of my strong suits. I come from a long line of people whose brains are wired directly to their anxiety centers. Even sitting in a waiting room for my therapist is enough to quicken my heart in anticipation of the possibilities beyond the wooden door of his office and him writing the inner most parts of my psyche on college lined paper.
Even as I write this in my spiral bound notebook I am anxious of the fact that I will eventually have to type this on a computer with one and a half hands. My left hand will be whizzing along, carefree, only to have to occasionally hover in trembling impatience as my splinted right hand struggles to finish those important articles like “the”, “of”, “by”, “and”, and…“or”. (Which is possibly the most debatable sentence I‘ve ever written.)
In December I had surgery on my right wrist. When I was forming in the womb my radius bone completely refused its rightful place aside my ulna bone at my elbow joint. Instead, in a rebellious jaunt, it simply sunk its end into the soft tissue beside my elbow joint. Medically this is called a chronically dislocated elbow. For the majority of my life this misanthropic elbow construction was mostly unnoticed. The inability to completely straighten one’s elbows has never been call for an emergency situation. (But it did me no favors in dance class.)
As I got older and transitioned into my 30s my wrist suddenly decided that enough was enough. The ulna head of my wrist poked my right hand with enough persistence that I finally said, “Okay, what!” and gave it my full attention. What happened next was a practice in even more patience. For more than a few years I experienced mystery pain, misdiagnosis, an ineffective cortisone shot, and a discovery of the early stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis sloshing through my veins underneath the normal tests for the disease.
Finally after an x-ray, which I insisted on from my rheumatologist on my elbows and wrists, a doctor took a look and said, “Oh, that’s not right!” and then, “I’ma cut that bugger off!” By “bugger” he meant the ulna head in my wrist. By “cut” he meant…well…he meant cut. This fact was probably much to the chagrin of my ulna bone that was complaining about my radius. It’s a lesson for the ages; don’t poke someone if you want something. They might…cut you off.
At the time I’m writing this I have recently gotten out of 6 weeks in a cast. I am now in a long splint for a few weeks, after which, I will be in a short splint for a bit longer. It is the last day of January now, and I will not be allowed back to work until March 18th, 3 months from my surgery date. So, to say this theme is appropriate in my life at current would be so much an understatement that it would become OVERstated. (See what I did, there?)
I suppose this is the section where I impart some sort of guru-type wisdom about patience, something I’ve taken away from the experience. But I feel I must warn you that I was never much good at wrapping things up with a nice bow. That’s why I always buy gift bags. But rarely are life’s real lessons so succinct anyway. I’ll do my best.
It is very hard to relinquish control over your life situation, and I believe that is where impatience comes from. Living in a world where the status quo is rushing around like a deranged, headless fowl trying to do everything at once quickly makes us forget our true natures as patient animals that wait. We waited as we hunted out prey. We waited until the perfect moment to pick our crops. We waited for the weather to change and traveled with the seasons. It is, really, in our nature to practice patience.
I think there is a misconception regarding the nature of patience as inactive or only inwardly meditative. I believe patience doesn’t have to be stagnant. For me, practicing patience means cultivating the result I desire. My physical therapy sessions for my wrists are an everyday event that brings me closer, step by step, to regaining the full use of my arm. In this way, patience is the action of preparing.
I’m still not very good at practicing patience. But I’ve learned a lot about the benefits of patience from my surgery and recovery. Scars don’t always remind us of what hurt us but sometimes they remind us of what we have achieved. And I’ve just achieved in typing this article! Being patient with myself, I think, is the most important thing I’ve learned.
E.M. Green is a 32 year old woman from Knoxville, TN. She fashions herself to be a writer in the same way that the Velveteen Rabbit fashioned himself to be a real rabbit. Hopefully her story will end up much like his. E.M. also works as a grocer so never compares 4135s to 4013s. She spends copious time on Facebook but hopes to accomplish more with her life than getting more than 40 likes on that picture of herself with Ron Perlman. In her lifetime E.M. has written playbill blurbs, poems, screenplays, prose, articles, and more than a few greeting cards which have sustained her creative expression thus far. Being a greedy little writer, there is always room for more.