“We live only once, but if we do it right, once is enough.” – Mae West
Many years ago, after a workshop dedicated to a doctor’s agenda when working with patients with special needs, I decided to take a leap, one I will be forever grateful for. That day I decided to focus my efforts in figuring out a way to work with patients who had special needs and provide them with the same level of care as all other patients.
When I took the time to diagnose the problem, I found that the root cause was a disconnect between doctor and patient and in these situations especially, it was a lack of patience and time on the doctor’s side. We identified the problem as the need for an increased amount of time required to allow a special needs person to express themselves and once we did, the importance of treating ALL patients with absolute dedication became abundantly clear and the working relationship between doctor and patient improved on both sides.
Working with patients with dementia taught me that it is much more effective and pleasant for patients to be allowed time to find the right words for self-expression. It may take a bit longer, but in the end the patient feels heard and the doctor is left with a greater understanding of the patient and their needs.
Exercising patience and understanding sounds easy enough; but when you are tired, the day has been long and your tolerance is wearing thin, taking extra time can sometimes feel like torture. After searching for methods of coping, I found that repeating a mantra helped, but it took time and understanding before that patience became like second nature to me.
Now I am proud to say I am a very patient person, and that patience extends far past my relationships with my clients and patients. As I said before, ‘we only live once’, and I think learning patience and in turn learning to communicate more effectively has made me a better doctor, friend, employee and mother, making my one life a life filled with understanding, joy, and love.
My advice to you is to reflect on yourselves, and how you deal with people in your lives. Do you find yourself losing your cool quickly, not taking the time to understand where others may be coming from? Sometimes we don’t even realize these negative behaviors because we are so used to them. After some self-reflection, if you realize you are lacking patience, take time to reflect on why you behave that way and try some new methods to change that behavior. Life is all about learning, growing and evolving. It is never too late to change, and it is never too late to improve yourself!