I heard about an elderly patient in an American hospital who was
recovering from a medical procedure. He decided to take a look at
his recovery-room record attached to the bed frame. He leafed
through the pages, then stopped at one particular notation and
furled his brow in consternation.
“I know I was in a bit of a muddle, but I didn’t realize I was that
bad,” he said apologetically to his nurse. “I hope I didn’t offend
She glanced to the spot where he pointed. “Don’t worry,” she said.
“SOB doesn’t mean what you think. It stands for ‘short of breath.'”
But I suspect that in some cases it does have a double meaning.
Especially if the patient is in pain, fearful or just plain out of
sorts. (And that goes for some of the hospital staff, too.)
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said, “I am extraordinarily
patient, provided I get my own way in the end.” But we don’t always get our own way. And patience can be taxed beyond reason. Where does understanding come from when it feels as if there is nothing left?
It can come from the simple act of remembering. To remember is to
understand. It is not about gritting one’s teeth and forcing oneself
to be more patient. It is actually easier than that.
Do you remember what it was like to be a child? No parent should
ever forget. And to remember is to understand.
Do you remember what it was like to be a student? Every teacher
should try to remember, and especially if they feel frustrated.
Do you remember what it is like to be a patient? Doctors and nurses
show more empathy after they have also spent time in a hospital bed.
Do you remember what it was like to be lonely? To be first? To be
last? To fail? To succeed? To be afraid? To remember is to
And to understand is to be patient.
— Steve GoodierShare on Facebook