January 3, 2013

Patient or Warrior? ~ Cindy Lee Lothian

You are a warrior, charging into battle with your own war cry.

Let’s stop and really think about the word patient which has been assigned to everyone who has ever sought the help of a medical professional.

The word patient implies weakness, illness and being out of control. Being not-in-charge of your own well-being. Accepting this patient label and repeating it, can alone set you back on your path of wellness.

My life changed on that rainy afternoon when I was told by an insensitive, ill-tempered doctor I had multiple sclerosis. I drove home numb, shocked and disconnected even from the blaring horn of a car nearby that I cut off in traffic did not even see. Everything I thought I was had suddenly changed and turned into one ugly word.

I had become a patient.

In that 20-minute drive from the city to my suburban bungalow, I was changing with every rainy mile. As the wipers washed away the rain, my mind was washing away all the goals and dreams I had for my future.

Twenty years later, I can now look back and see how that word had totally transformed me. I had become a victim. I had become a burden to my loved ones. I had become someone I no longer recognized.

I can still remember how I felt when the phone calls started coming in from concerned family members and friends. I was not up to answering the endless inquiries, so my concerned mother was left to ward off the vultures. I felt like I had died.

I was listening to calls of condolences. It was bad enough being told I had an incurable illness, but I felt that I was already being written off as dead. I could hear her responses while I lay in my bedroom trying to reassemble the pieces of my shattered existence I had thought was my life.

“Thank you, she is laying down right now, she has to go for more tests and it’s one day at a time.”

These low murmured responses drifted down the hallway, past my two-month-old baby’s bedroom door and found me.

I was unable to hide.

I know some calls were made from concern and love but, like an auto accident, human nature is to stop and stare—to want to know every gory detail while all the while being thankful that it is not you.

I find myself now wondering what that day would have been like if I had not been labelled a patient from the moment I left the doctor’s office. What if I had just been still Cindy who had a new challenge in her life? Oh, the possibilities are bountiful!

If the word “patient” is to be used at all, it should be used to celebrate the patience we all need to live, accept and believe that tomorrow is a better day.

You decide. Are you a patient? Or a warrior with lots of patience?

Celebrate who you truly are, not what others try to make you think you are. You are a warrior, charging into battle with your own war cry. “I am alive!”


 Cindy Lee Lothian is a writer, mother and lover of life who has learned that her twenty year dance with the disease M.S., has given her Multiple Strengths. She writes about love, laughter, healing and hope. Follow Cindy’s blog, Still Sexy After MS.

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Assistant Ed. Evan Livesay

Ed: K.B.

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