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Geiger’s Counter: Patience is an acquired trait

‘God give me patience and give it to me right now!’ A sign with these words or something similar hung above the desk of my father-in-law for years. They pretty much sized up my life as well. I have always been impatient. When I get behind a car doing 55 in what is supposed to be the fast lane on the interstate, I have very little patience for them. Many other irritations pique my impatience. Slow wireless service, long lines, the hideous canned music when you call customer no service and the snarled I-75 traffic at Eagles Landing where people now slow down out of habit even when there is no accident or stall in the vicinity. But, the good Lord has a way of teaching you patience and he has worked on me lately. I have spent hours upon hours ‘“ including one five-hour stint ‘“ in doctors’ offices. Since I was desperately in need of their care, the waits were bearable.The first eight days of my recent hospital stay, I had a temporary dialysis catheter in my femoral artery uncomfortably close to my groin. I was told I had to keep my left leg straight and not incline the head of my bed more than 30 degrees. The nurses had a great way of enforcing the rule. They told the story of a young man in the same situation who could not use the bed pan and decided one day to drag himself to the toilet. The catheter ripped open his artery and he bled to death in the bathroom. Sufficiently motivated by that account, I laid still and worked on my patience. I was dependent on other people for just about everything. At first, I was very perturbed with the situation but finally I just let it go. I let strangers bathe me and clean me. Soon, modesty went out the window and I was at peace with the situation and, yes, I left the hospital a considerably more patient man. I’ve noticed it. My family has noticed it and others have noticed it. Yes, I have had weak moments and flashes of impatient temper but they are much less numerous and I regret the regressions when they come. Patience is a trait a few people are born with. Most of us have to acquire it on our own. And the most stubborn, like me, have to have it shoved down our throats. We gag on it at first but, after a few days, it tastes and feels pretty good.

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