Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mr. Nightingale

I have historically been a pretty bad patient. Grumpy, sullen, needy, theatrical. Recently, however, I had to learn an important lesson regarding the role of a caregiver. My education took place during a weekend when I was charged with caring for my daughter who was afflicted with some combination of strep throat and/or a bad cold.

Certainly I started out with the best of intentions and a servant-minded attitude. On the Friday evening before I picked my daughter up, I went to the grocery store and bought some treats that she would like and planned some dinners that would taste good to her. After we got home on Saturday morning, I set my daughter up on the couch and covered her with a soft blanket. I placed a glass of her favorite juice, some throat lozenges, and a new box of tissues on the table next to her. We then watched a few T.V. programs before I made our lunch. As the afternoon went on, it was clear that my daughter was more than content just to lay on the couch and rest in front of the T.V.. I found myself starting to get bored and I kind of dozed off. This is something that I don't like to do when I am with my daughter because I would much rather be doing something active and engaging in our time together. By the late afternoon, I was not only starting to climb the walls, but the sicker my daughter got, the more I started worrying about catching whatever she had. After I put my daughter to bed on Saturday, I kind of moped and stewed about for a few hours feeling like I got cheated out of a perfectly good day.

On Sunday, we basically replayed the day before. At 5:30 p.m. when we normally leave for church, I asked my daughter if she felt up to going. She didn't say no but looked at me with her puffy face, red nose, and glassy eyes. Even though I knew that she was quite sick and felt like crap, I felt frustration and anger beginning to bubble up inside me. I walked into the kitchen and took about 10 seconds to regroup and remember who the patient was and to put away my selfish attitude. Tenderness, compassion, and a spirit infused with TLC then washed over me. Once I re-focused my mind, I think that I did much better for the rest of evening.