Patient? I ain’t no stinkin’ patient.
Denial is a wonderful thing.
After being a patient with a chronic illness for more than three decades, I became a wee bit tired of playing the role. No offense to anyone in the medical community, but it was a too-close connection that I didn’t want anything to do with anymore. I loved the providers, but loathed patienthood.
It was a role I was more than willing to chuck.
But could I? How the heck does one give up such an identity? It’s not exactly like resigning from a job. But wouldn’t that be nice?? I imagine it might involve a scenario like this one (cue movie ‘dream’ music):
“Here, I’m handing in my resignation letter. Yes, that’s correct. I am no longer your patient. Yes, I’ll still see you as needed, but as a person, not a patient. Nothing personal, it’s just business. It’s the business of survival. I’m no longer choosing to survive as a patient. I’ll live as a person, and if, when you treat me, you choose to label me as a patient, well, that’s your issue.”
We each carry out many roles in our lives – roles like spouse, parent, child, sibling, friend, employee, nurse, and unfortunately sometimes, (argghh) …patient. It’s that last one that doesn’t have a lot of positives going for it. After awhile, it gets to be a moldy oldie. It needs to be thrown out with the trash.
So I threw it out. I gave up my patient identity. I wrapped it up in smelly used fish paper, tied it tightly with white butcher string (somehow seems appropriate, being the recipient of multiple surgeries), and tossed it with a flourish into the garbage can across the room, scoring three points in the process.
Cut to last scene of the movie: “Ta da!” said the former patient, wiping her hands clean of the mess.
If only it were that easy.
It might not have looked quite that tidy, but I did perform some Olympic-worthy mental gymnastics to change my thinking of who I was and am, and will be.
Fortunately, my calendar has since changed, too, to reflect my non-patient status. It’s no longer filled with regular and irregular medical appointments during any given week or month – as is so common for people living with chronic illness.
During surgery years, like last year, that calendar fills up again with appointments and tries to tell me I’m once again a patient. I refuse to believe it. Instead, I go about living my life and fitting in time for the medical industry when I can.
I’ve decided to be a friend, sister, volunteer, writer / speaker who happens to occasionally see a doctor in amidst her other life activities. I’m no longer first and foremost a patient who, in her off-time, happens to be a friend, sister, volunteer, writer / speaker.
Who am I? Whoever I want to be, and that doesn’t include the Queen of Denial.
A new year means new joys and, unfortunately, new struggles. Who will you help Stick To It – No Matter What? Kris Harty’s upcoming book celebrates nurses as the StickPeople they are. Her unique perspective is educational, inspirational, and full of reminders for nurses new and lifelong. Kris helps student nurses continue to persevere through their studies, educates newer nurses on quick, easy ways they can positively and significantly impact patient care, and reminds long-time nurses of what they already know but may have forgotten in the hustle and bustle of their overwhelming workdays. She is an author, keynote speaker, small group facilitator and a 40-year veteran of the industry – on the receiving end. Kris Harty is the Stickabilities Specialist at Strong Spirit Unlimited. If you’re looking for an effortless and meaningful way to inspire your staff or students to keep going, contact Kris. Call 877.711.STIC(K), e-mail StrongSpirit@StrongSpiritUnlimited.com, or visit www.StrongSpiritUnlimited.com.