As I blog as the Patient Patient, I have been thinking about what that actually means - being patient and being a patient - and went to dig out the dictionary on my shelf. I know in previous posts I have defended going into detail about semantics, but when the word 'patient' is so defining for me as a person (and many other people) I don't feel the need to apologise about the geeky wordy nature of this post!
Delving into my dictionary, the definition for patient as an adjective is 'able to wait without becoming annoyed or anxious, bearing or enduring pain with calmness, or without complaint' and in an archaic usage, it described 'one who is suffering', and the Latin origins are from 'one who suffers'. As a noun, patient refers to 'a person receiving or registered to receive medical treatment'.
As the patient patient what am I?
I am certainly patient in that I endure the pain in the backside of delays and administrative inefficiencies of the NHS. But without complaint? That is more challenging to answer honestly, and certainly does not apply to all patients! Whilst I fell enormously lucky and privileged to live in a country with healthcare system like the NHS, I still complain - not formally, but to friends and family.
But is being patient (adjective) an important requirement of being a patient (noun) or is it just a coincidence of the English language?
Too much patience and too little patience are both equally detrimental I feel. Too impatient, and you get unnecessarily stressed and worked up about things - a healthy dose of realism and you quickly realise the demands on the NHS and the unpredictable nature of illness, recovery and progress, and the way they gobble up time like me and chocolate.
But what if we are not impatient enough? Being a patient requires a healthy dose of proactive-ness too - to chase the doctors, appointments, prescriptions, new treatments and information. Lose that, and you risk falling through system and possibly your own health suffering as a result, with results and treatments taking longer. When I was very impatient, I hadn't yet accepted what long-term actually meant, and still expected a quick fix for my symptoms. That caused a whole load of problems with stress, anxiety and depression, not to mention the emotional rollercoaster around each doctors appointment.
So as the Patient Patient, I think I do live up to my name, but it is just a name . . . I am still really just me. A person with friends, memories, family, hobbies, emotions, a career and hopes, irrespective how much my nervous system fails me. And that's what really matters!