The Im-patient Doctor

by Dr Anne Malatt MBBS, MS, FRANZCO, FRACS

I recently had surgery.

The wonder-fully inspiring account of this can be read elsewhere on this website.  I just felt to balance it with the other side of the story.

The surgery itself was an amazing healing.

I felt wonderful for a few days afterwards and lay on the couch allowing my family to look after me and feeling the grace of it all.

As my body started to heal, my mind started to play tricks.

I did not deserve to care for myself and be cared for; I was needed here there and everywhere; I started to feel empty because I was not “doing” anything… all my old thoughts and patterns started to rear their ugly heads and demand my attention.

The tension was too much for me.

Instead of going deeper, feeling the stillness and beauty and grace within me, allowing myself to feel that I am enough as I am, and don’t need to do anything to be loved, I got up and moved.

I went places where I thought I was needed, and then I went back to work.

I love my work, but I am not what I do.  The funny part was that the minute I got there, I felt that, but by then it was too late – there were 20 people booked in to see me that day, and 20 more the next.

By the end of the first day I was very tired and sore, but I did not feel able to cancel the next day.

By the end of the next day, I started to bleed.  All that movement, all that pressure I was putting on my healing body, was too much and it had to be released somewhere. My leg, which was supposed to be up, blew up, into a huge haematoma. Now I was in pain.

All that lovelessness, all that disregard, all those years of putting others before myself, of not listening to my body, of over-riding what I did feel, see and hear, of pushing through pain, tiredness, sadness…all came to a head, in my left leg. It really hurt, not just physically, but because, perhaps for the first time, I could really feel the pain of how I had lived, against the truth of what I knew.

So now I am back on the couch, with my leg up, pondering on what happened. The silly part is I have had to take more time off healing what I have harmed than I would have if I had listened to my doctor in the first place!

Some of us, especially the “smart” ones, can be slow learners!

318 thoughts on “The Im-patient Doctor

  1. Now a days, more and more people want things done in an instance. For example if we look at technology, it has advanced and no doubt will continue to advance in the future. Our cars have technology unheard of 20 years ago, but does this make us better drivers, or prevent us from having accidents. I can recall, being able to reverse a car into a space with out any rear cameras, or sensors screaming at you, saying you are too close to an object.

    None of these things have made our bodies advance, instead it has taken us further away from its intelligence. But that intelligence of the body is always there, waiting for us to tap into. It has sensors, that can communicate in many ways. The question is, are we willing to listen, feel and respond, or are we going to continue to ignore it.

  2. When we start going again before we are ready the body is even louder in it’s “Slow down and stop for a moment” It’s the pain of our disobedience that we run away from the most.

  3. It is very healing for us to allow others to look after us when we are recovering from an illness or surgery, and deeply healing for us to surrender to what is needed.

    1. Totally agree Sally, it is very healing to be cared for. Are we willing to be vulnerable and say I need support too, and this is the time for me. It isn’t selfish, it is self loving.

  4. The wonderful thing about learning is that there never is a mistake. We learn and by sharing our story, others can learn, too. There’s so much for everyone to appreciate in every movement we make even when it doesn’t match the picture of how we wanted it to look.

  5. It is amazing how patient we can be with others but how impatient we can be with our own healing process whether this is after surgery or simply allowing a needed clearing and giving ourselves the space to process that without beating ourselves up for not being productive. What this exposes for me is the different weight I put on tasks where there is a recognisable outcome at the end and the ongoing process of healing that is often unseen at the time.

  6. I am sure many can relate to what you write Anne. Better to take the rest we need and return in our fullness and expansion.

  7. They often say that nurses and doctors are the worst patients – though I think there are many many of us who don’t look after ourselves to the level or the depth our bodies require. Your blog really makes me wonder how many times a day I compromise my body – and what effect that is having long term – thank you.

  8. Thanks Anne, I’m home unwell in bed and I realised this morning after feeling unbearably unsettled that I didn’t feel comfortable about not having a function, my belief was I needed to be doing something to feel connected to others or part of the team so to speak. This was really exposing because my body genuinely needs rest whilst I recover, but I’m having trouble accepting it because I’m placing value on myself in doing something, not just being and attending to myself.

    1. So true I have often given in to this uncomfortable feeling of not being productive when recuperating and gone back to work too soon and like Anne recognised that I am not ready but felt unable to acknowledge this as it will affect others and then have taken longer to recover which impacts not just me but all those I am connected with.

  9. I have come to appreciate how our body constantly communicates to us especially when we are going against our natural rhythm calling our attention to discern our movements. We are able to truly nurture and support ourselves to live in harmony with our body when we listen and honour how we are feeling within.

  10. Listening to our head and ‘over-riding our body’ can be suicidal so maybe we should look at the underlying patterns that have hooked us into to listening to those versions from our spirit and not the true way our whole body intelligence works when we are connected to our Soul, which is ‘going deeper, feeling the stillness and beauty and grace within me’.

  11. In March 2013 I had a chest infection that lasted over a month. I kept going back into work and my manager kept sending me home again. I couldn’t believe that I could take time off and rest. But I don’t doubt that repeatedly going back prolonged the illness. These days I take the time to rest however long it may be and I return to work ready, committed and joyful.

  12. The mind can certainly play tricks, it has us doing things that are not just unwise but are self harming and takes us a long way from where we really want to be. We are so used to a fast paced life and getting on with things that it is often difficult to stop and allow the body the rest and healing it needs. Practising being still not just on the outside but connecting to the stillness within supports us to stay with our bodies true needs. Esoteric Yoga as presented by Universal Medicine accredited practitioners is a great way to deepen this process.

  13. Anne I always love reading your blogs, because there is such a great lesson for us all to learn through your experience, when we don’t listen to what our body is telling us, and we simply override it, we are in total disregard of our body and not honouring what we know to be true.

  14. It’s very common for people to go back to work too soon after an illness because of the pressure they feel from their boss or work place or their own work addictions, feeling that they are irreplaceable. It often follows that more time off is then required, whereas giving oneself sufficient time to heal well in the first place may have obviated that.

  15. Thank you Anne, for presenting this great example of how the mind insists on us believing that it knows best, to get its way, to dominate regardless of the cost, which always equates to abusing ourselves by overriding the intelligence of the body, which the mind is intrinsically part of. However, as you have clearly demonstrated, our minds can never truly be without the body, as in the end it’s the body that will call to correction all that is not honouring of the love that we are and the truth that our body always reflect to us.

  16. I just so love and appreciate your openness and honesty. Often we like to present only the pretty veneer side of life as if there is no rough or sharp edge. Sharing our whoops moments is not about defending or justifying our mistakes, but about accepting them as part of learning, it offers a fuller picture of our journey hence a greater learning for others – just like how we learn to accept illnesses and diseases as part of healing.

  17. When we are made to stop and listen to our body, we get to realise and appreciate what is truly being offered from each experience. We can only live in contra to our body’s natural rhythm for so long before our body calls us back to deepen our awareness and our relationship with ourselves giving us the space to make choices that are more tender and nurturing.

  18. “I went places where I thought I was needed, and then I went back to work. I love my work, but I am not what I do.” Yet so many believe they are what they do – their identification. I can relate to this too. The body has huge intelligence and gives us signals, if we only listen and respond to what is needed – sometimes giving us a moment to stop – if we don’t choose to stop for ourselves.

  19. Having just broken my wrist this is quite a timely read. I can feel how I have not fully stopped and felt what my wrist is showing me, and instead using my time to fill in all the areas that I had previously not had time for. I can feel that I am being asked to go deeper but not taking the steps to fully embrace and appreciate what is being offered to me.

  20. A great lesson and seemingly worth the price as the damage wasn’t permanent. To be able to stop such ingrained behaviour is a blessing.

  21. When I would follow my thoughts i would not be sitting and or lying on the couch with my wrist in plaster but I would do whatever I could to avoid, disrupt the stillness that my body is presenting me with. To break this pattern of identifying myself and my worth with what I do is to surrender to the wisdom within my body.

  22. Putting others first is something as women we can all do, I am learning to unravel this in my own life and to see the part I have played in over riding how I truly feel and in being responsible for others, and how exhausting and harming to the body it is when we live in this way.

  23. I love the honesty and humility of what you share here Anne, and how it often takes a real stop for us to see and feel how we’ve live and how much it can hurt when we see and know that we’re not considered ourselves in there, but placed the world and all others first, to the detriment of ourselves and them, for we have not been the quality of us.

  24. The pain of knowing that I have turned against what I know to be true is by far the greatest source of agony in my life. And as much as I can distract myself away from this pain, giving myself the illusion that everything is bubbling along just fine at the surface, the reality is that the more I connect to this pain and allow it to be felt, the more solid and genuine I feel and the more capable I am to handle life’s challenges. The real weakness is therefore in not being aware of the deep pain of separation from our soul. And real strength is in living with the awareness of this separation everyday and yet to carry on bringing light and love to life.

  25. “I love my work, but I am not what I do.” – this is so important to remember! To appreciate our worth as we are and not just for what we do. And reading this blog reminds me of the importance of really listening to and honouring our body, thank you Anne.

  26. Thanks for your honesty Anne. This is a beautiful sharing, that makes me feel how important it is to honour our body, especially when it is in a deep healing process, and also how important is the reflection we offer to others in that process. This is very generous on your side, as sometimes we may think that doctors are invincible and maybe we forget that they are also human beings who make mistakes and learn in their life too.

  27. I know that feeling well, following the thoughts of going into work but stepping out the door I feel like I shouldn’t even be in my uniform let alone out of bed! Pushing ourselves when ill only makes the healing take longer. We all know this but give precedence to those thoughts that don’t have care or love in their foundations or orgin.

  28. There is no surprise that our body reacts when we override its needs for rest, and how quickly we can go backwards when we think we can get away with something, all along knowing inside that we should not be pushing our body, but respectfully supporting and resting it.

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