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Impatient Patient

Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay

Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay

Well to start 2022 as a patient is pretty humbling. And I’m not a very patient patient either. I mean, I don’t get sick. No, really I don’t. If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times, “I don’t get sick!” And then… I did! Luckily, during my convalesce I came upon this quote.   

“The longer you are a doctor, the less you remember what it is like to be a patient.”  James Clear

And I think it has been good for me. To be a patient, that is.

Let me explain.

During the Christmas break, while skiing with some pals, I got too close to the edge and injured my foot. I got into a tight spot, and it took me 15 minutes to inch up about 6 feet. In doing so, sidestepping up, I did something to my foot. When I got to the bottom of the hill, I did myself a favor and stopped for the day. And then promptly went snowshoeing. By nightfall I could hardly put my foot on the ground without peeing my pants. That sucker hurt. Fortunately for me, I have a colleague in McCall (Guy Jeppe, DC if you need help in McCall, ID) that specializes in feet. I limped into his office the next day and humbly explained what had happened and he put me back together as best as he could. But inexplicably, the same night that my foot was killing me, I started getting body aches. From head to toe and on my back side. I chalked it up to overdoing it all day. You know, playing too hard. But the body aches persisted past the foot pain. We came back home from McCall after a few days of loafing, thinking I had the flu or a cold, only to find out it was the Rona. I don’t know what variety, but I know I had a pretty debilitating headache and the body aches and a fever and a rash! Not bad for a boy that never gets sick!! So I laid around and slept and whined and held my temples and sweated and itched and let my also sick wife and daughter take care of me. Men are pretty big babies when we go down. To top it off, I had a flat tire in my driveway. Took me all afternoon and a few swear words to get it changed.   

Did I mention I don’t get sick?  

After a week, the fever broke, the headache went away, I finally felt alert enough and so I went back to work. My mental clarity kept improving as the week went along. Until Saturday night. I mean the very next Saturday night, one of my premolars cracked. I didn’t know what had happened at the time but I knew for sure that my face hurt and I could barely chew. So I put clove oil on it and waited for Monday. On Monday I got an appointment with the dentist and he said yep, cracked, infected, maybe we can save it, need a root canal, and a new crown, here are some antibiotics, see you Wednesday, and oh yeah bring your credit card! 

Are you kidding me? 

On that Wednesday, I jumped in the dental chair during our lunch break, and was back to work at 3 with a droopy face and a lot of slobber. If you were here that day, hopefully I didn’t drool on you! And once my face came back to life, my tooth stopped hurting. Pretty amazing. By the time you are reading this, I should have my permanent big boy crown all snugly in place. 

Thanks for hearing me out. I’m not looking for sympathy because really, I don’t get sick. I know so many people have had a tough go of life these last 2 years, way worse than what I have just described. But sometimes I think we, all of us, need to slow down and reflect a little bit. If we don’t do it willingly, intentionally, I think our heads and hearts have to orchestrate a way of getting our attention. I have heard it quoted many times, “being sick has a wonderful way of concentrating the mind.”

As I think about it, it is true. We all need to willingly evaluate things from time-to-time or we will be forced to. Plunging ahead and not expecting consequences is unrealistic. 

My reflection went something like this: how does a boy who takes his vitamins, eats reasonably well, sleeps regularly, goes to the gym a few times a week, plays plenty, gets adjusted, does all the things he tells his patients that they should do, go down? Heck, I thought I was bulletproof. And now I’m out flat? But someway, somehow, I was out of balance. Out of balance for too long usually ends poorly. Too much of something, not enough of something else. Balance is crucial to your health. 

The very amazing part of waiting for our bodies to heal is that this process of healing, of restoring balance, can’t be rushed. It takes time. How much time? Whatever it takes. Being an impatient patient is vanity. 

All the things we advocate regularly here at SC are all still very good practices and should be followed because they enhance your quality of life. Although they are not foolproof, they increase the odds in your favor of living life fully.  

But add this to the list… stop and reflect on where your runaway train might be going. Am I out of balance somewhere? Do it often or your body will do it for you!

Find some space to find some space!

Your health depends on it.



“The magic is not in the medicine but in the patient’s body. What the doctor does is to stimulate nature’s function in the body, or to remove hindrances.” CSL  

16 Join the Conversation

  1. Aunt Paigie says
    Feb 11, 2022 at 2:20 PM

    Dr. Swaim - Did not know all this! So glad you are mended and back to your spry self! Thanks for the wise perspective! Look forward to seeing y'all real soon!

    • says
      Feb 11, 2022 at 10:42 AM

      Real soon! Thanks Aunt Paigie, we can't wait! Cheers, ks

  2. Cookie says
    Feb 11, 2022 at 3:41 PM

    I'm glad you're on the mend Swaimy! Been doing really well, I see you soon.

    • says
      Feb 11, 2022 at 10:43 AM

      Good Girl, Cookie! We look forward to it and thanks for your referrals! Cheers, ks

  3. JudyLynn says
    Feb 11, 2022 at 4:56 PM

    I agree with you completely!!!!

    • says
      Feb 11, 2022 at 10:44 AM

      Always good to have you chiming in! Thanks JudyLynn and we are thinking of you and Bob these days. Cheers, ks

  4. Mary Keys says
    Feb 11, 2022 at 8:07 PM

    You know where I live and how could I have missed all this happening to you? You must be alot tougher than I thought. You seemed like your usual self this morning so am glad you are O.K. Have a good weekend and be careful.

    • says
      Feb 14, 2022 at 10:19 AM

      Thanks Mary! This was the week of New Year's that I was sick, just going back over how it went for me. Cheers!

  5. Greg H says
    Feb 12, 2022 at 1:26 AM

    Good reality check Dr. S. We all bring our wild stories to the C-office re the day, week, month or year and make you listen to them, all the while not remembering you all have all of your life stories also. Thanks for opening up the door a bit on your own “gee, things aren't going so well” stories…:)) We're with you and for you!

    • says
      Feb 14, 2022 at 10:20 AM

      Thanks a ton Greg! We appreciate the support we get from you two and many others. Hope you are staying well and productive. Cheers!

  6. KBo says
    Feb 12, 2022 at 5:35 PM

    Nice reflection, doctor.

    • says
      Feb 14, 2022 at 10:21 AM

      Thanks bro! Looking forward to seeing you. Cheers!

  7. Jess says
    Feb 15, 2022 at 1:23 AM

    Interesting seems like so much I relate to except I haven't gotten to the sick part yet.looks like I need to evaluate some ;) love the though spur thanx doc :)

    • says
      Feb 14, 2022 at 8:20 PM

      Hey Jess, really appreciate you reading and chiming in. Good to have a partner in crime! Cheers.

  8. Roo says
    Feb 15, 2022 at 9:26 PM

    Doctors really are the worst patients! So glad all 3 of you are doing better now. Hope your foot is too! Miss you all! <3

    • says
      Feb 16, 2022 at 6:35 PM

      Oh Roo, great to hear from you and know that you are reading our stuff. Thanks so much for chiming in and I hear that you went through it too. Bummer! Hope you are well too. And you're probably right, doctors, what can you do with them? Cheers, ks

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