Hospital visits offer lesson in patience

By James Willoughby

Last month, I had a day that started and ended in hospitals…two different hospitals, in two different counties, by the side of two different family members. That was not my favorite day.

The first visit was a planned procedure for my wife. Arriving at the hospital at 6 a.m., we were advised that Jody should be ready to go home six hours later. I entertained visions of all the tasks I could accomplish in those hours and still return to the hospital before Jody’s anesthesia wore off.

But when Jody mentioned to the nurse that I was going to leave and come back, the nurse shot a glare at me that said, “What kind of heartless-monster are you?”

So I canned my dreams of yardwork and resigned to the fact that my next six hours would be spent devouring every issue of Better Homes and Gardens and O Magazine that I could lay my hands on. I did end up leaving the hospital briefly to grab breakfast, which elicited another ‘heartless-monster’ stare. Apparently, nurses are trained to deliver that stare to dopey husbands like myself.

Six hours of reading women’s magazines sort of felt like 10, but I survived and got some great recipes for summer salads. Oh yeah, Jody survived too.

Fast-forward five hours, and I am prepping the grill for dinner. My 11-year-old son (Alex), who was shooting baskets in the driveway, bursts into the house frantically, trailing a stream of blood. He falls to the ground holding his toe, blood pooling on the floor.

And my response was, “Alex are you kidding me!?” It is responses like that which may prevent me from winning the Father of the Year award yet again. But my reaction was based on the fact that two weeks earlier he burst through that same door missing a large patch of skin from the same toe. After which, we had an extensive conversation about the benefits of wearing shoes while playing basketball.

Apparently, my pro-shoe argument was not persuasive enough, and I found myself speeding up the interstate for my second hospital visit of the day. Two hours and three stitches later we were home. Both of the patients were on the mend, and my patience was as well.

As I lay in bed that night reflecting on my day, I wasn’t pleased with my responses to the situations in which I found myself. I should have known that my role as a husband meant I was going to sit in the waiting room for six hours. The nurses’ glares told me that should have been a foregone conclusion, but it wasn’t for me.

And I should have reacted better to my son’s injury. My concern for his well-being should have trumped my anger. Both of my reactions were born out of selfishness. I was worried about my time and my inconvenience. As the leader of my home, my concern for my family needs to be on par or above my own.

I quietly and humbly recognized that in the still of the night and prayed for the strength and wisdom to react better. Here’s to hoping that happens. And here’s to hoping I never have another two-hospital kind of day.

By James Willoughby

James is a regular contributor who writes about marriage, family, and faith. He lives in Tipp City, Ohio.

James is a regular contributor who writes about marriage, family, and faith. He lives in Tipp City, Ohio.