My arthroscopic knee surgery had gone well, thanks to my doctor and his skilled team of assistants. Home and with the worst of the pain dissipating, I immediately became an impatient patient. How long, I whined, will I have to wait before I can resume my life?
When I opened my eyes each morning, I asked: "Is today the day I return to normal?" Then I'd try to walk. My stiffened knee reminded me I had to wait a little longer!
On reflection, I realized how much of life I've spent in one spot, idling my engine, waiting for the next stage, the next event.
Now, the stiff feeling reminded me of driving a car with the emergency brake on—very hard to gain momentum and disastrous on the running parts of the vehicle.
In my recovery-imposed leisure, I had time to identify five symptoms of this malady—one that could easily be confused with "excuse-itis" and "blame-itis." Although in itself, "waiting-itis" isn't life-threatening, like obesity, it can lead to other conditions which are: heart disease, stroke, and even dementia. Immunized with information, maybe I can avoid its damage.
- Downward Spiral: A sense of decay and deterioration is present. If depression doesn't cause passivity, it certainly takes over if I feel helpless long enough.
- Excuses: Life is filled with remarkably plausible excuses, which I try to get myself, and others, to believe.
- Powerless: The cause of my waiting always seems beyond my control. And, since I have no control over what is going to happen next, my only alternative is to wait.
- Myths: If I tell stories long enough about how real the obstacles are, I convince not only myself, but others, too.
- Self-pity: It is easy to talk myself into accepting my situation rather than to seek out the opportunities available in each circumstance.
Somehow recognizing the dark role of waiting-itis, and noticing when I am in that state, helps free me to handle my recovery more positively.
While I can't do everything, I can still do floor exercises in the morning with my good leg and my upper body. As part of the healing process, I'm noticing both improvements and setbacks. By keeping track of progress in my diary, I've taken charge of my outlook.
In a real turnaround, I've begun to realize the huge opportunity I have to use this "time out" constructively. I'm getting rest, have time to read broadly and a chance to reflect and replenish my emotional bank. Best of all, I have a ready-made excuse to enjoy the holidays without all the fuss and work!