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!

277 thoughts on “The Im-patient Doctor

  1. Thank you Anne – a great read and reminder for today as I am feeling unwell though not really really unwell. However rather than waiting until this point I have decided to take the day off work and rest, which is new for me, as usually I would wait until I have to stop and recovery takes longer.

  2. There is definitely food for thought for many of us in this writing… Taking the time for ourselves to truly heal can push so many of the buttons inside that we are used to ignoring… But we do so as Anne has said, at our peril.

    1. Indeed Chris, true healing puts our relationship with self in the spotlight……buttons gets pushed and the learning whichever way is enormous.

  3. Our bodies do know what is needed – if we are willing to listen. They are messengers of a deeper truth that we currently appreciate.

  4. The drive to do and be seen doing in this life is set directly against our innate sense of the value of our beingness. In our beingness we bring so much to our doing that is not perhaps obvious on the surface – but is felt so very deeply within.

  5. Anne I love your honesty – you wrote: “. . . I could really feel the pain of how I had lived, against the truth of what I knew.” I know exactly what you mean and for me this insight was the important part of my deep healing – to allow myself to feel what I have knowingly and willingly done to myself.

  6. Anne, I love the honesty and humility of what you share. I too have been one of those ‘smart’ ones, and I’ve begun to recognise that I’m often a slow learner and I’m now learning to embrace the learnings from my body and ensure that how I live includes it and doesn’t just push through. We humans are so often loathe to stop and truly feel what is going on until our bodies show it to us clearly. Thank God for our very wise and beautiful bodies.

  7. You highlight many important points here Anne. When we allow our head to take control of our decisions without feeling how we truly are, it can be at huge detriment to our body. Loving ourselves deeply enough to allow ourselves the space and time to deeply heal and recover when needed is possible the more we connect to the gentleness and tenderness within us.

  8. Thank you Anne for sharing, it’s interesting how a lot of us would ignore our body until our body really stops. It’s not until our body really stops us that most of us would really listen, then it’s too late as the harm is already done.

  9. Wow thank you Anne, I read your last blog and took note of that take time off afterwards as a golden rule for surgery but to hear how and why you learnt that lesson is really valuable for me. I often feel that nag of ‘I’m not doing anything’ and giving space to be looked after. I remember I was home and back looking after my other two children within hours of my 3rd child being born. It was crazy looking back because there was so much help around me but clearly a fair chunk of my self worth was placed on how much I did and contributed.

  10. Your comment at the end made me smile. ‘Some of us, especially the “smart” ones, can be slow learners!’ It is our beliefs, old patterns and behaviours that are not so intelligent, and no where near as intelligent as our bodies.

  11. Thank you Anne. This sounds very familiar to me and the self-imposed pressure to ‘get on with things’ too soon and then having to take longer to recover as a result of not listening to my body. I realise that it is an arrogance to think that I am the one that has to do the ‘doing’ and that it is a trust to allow others to care for me.

  12. We are so invested in the idea that we are here to do something – to have a family, to be in a relationship, to be committed to our job, to be self-loving…..that we forget that we are not here to do anything at all. We are here to be. That is all.

  13. The body always tells you to go deeper especially after a known stop like an incident, accident, ill-ness or dis-ease. It’s always the case when you are hurt or reacting too and wanting to control the environment you are in. Going deeper to love for yourself supports you to understand why it is an event happens and most importantly being aware to not let it happen again.

  14. Anne its often the times that our body asks us to stop that we resist stopping, then the body really starts to talk and we have no option but to stop. That had been my experience through life. I think it does not matter what we know in our heads as it makes no sense to push ourselves in the way many of us do. Time to deeply care and nurture ourselves.

  15. Thank you for sharing your post-surgery experience Anne which I can really relate to and only recently had a example of when I overrode my body which I knew was not well enough to go to work but felt that I couldn’t let a client down who ended up cancelling on me! By that time I was in work so kept going and this had a detrimental effect on how I was for the rest of the week and thus how effective I was in all areas of my life. I recognise more when I am doing this but still find the mind games that nag me about not being enough unless I am doing something productive can be overwhelming when I am feeling below par. This reminds me how important it is to look after myself lovingly all the time to support me to recognise the subtlest of messages from my body about when I need to rest.

  16. Love your title Anne and it has helped me to recognise the link between being a patient and being patient with myself when I am healing either physically or mentally. In acute situations we have little choice but to rest but it is when it is not so clear cut that I need to e.g. stay at home recuperating that my mind starts up the old tapes about not letting people down and I often choose activity as the more comfortable option rather than sitting with the feelings that are coming up. Inevitably this ends painfully but the physical pain then blots out the feelings of not being enough without my constant activity. I am amazed how deep seated these tapes are and how I can still get caught up in these old patterns if I do not pay attention to the foundation of self-care that I have established over the last few years.

  17. Resting deeply after any operation or surgical procedure is essential and underestimated in its importance by the medical profession. However a Universal Medicine practitioner suggested that I rest deeply after a surgical procedure and doing so made a huge difference.

    1. It is just sensibly sensible to not push ourselves after a major surgery, everyone knows it yet there can be an undercurrent drive nudging us not to.

      Asking the question why we have difficult being sensible is a good question to start with.

      1. Absolutely Luke a great question – why do we have difficulty being sensible? Why do we have difficulty with being responsible and why do we have difficulty with loving ourselves enough to take deep care of ourselves?

  18. In a nutshell, this is what is happening world wide whether we are physiologically sick or not, pushing and overriding one’s true levels of exhaustion is rife; indeed the escalation of coffee shops across the globe is a sure indicator. Humanity has disengaged with their own sense of stillness and the resulting ill health is snowballing.

  19. If we don’t take adequate rest eventually it catches up with us. Being tired makes it harder to be present with ourselves and accidents are more likely to happen or an illness will show up. Going to bed earlier is great as is taking power naps in the day but let’s start those by being connected to our breath so that we can capitalise on these moments as much as possible.

  20. I love how life keeps on giving us the same choices until we learn what truly supports us – not as a punishment, but in such a loving way so that we learn to truly look after ourselves. We have a choice in those moments where we feel tension: do we allow ourselves to fully feel it, and to appreciate that it’s just our resistance to a greater level of stillness and awareness that is there for us to step into, or distract ourselves with other activities, so as not to feel the perceived emptiness? It’s ironic that it’s only by allowing ourselves to feel the emptiness that allows us to feel that it’s not real emptiness at all – just a momentary disconnection from everything that we already are.

  21. It is amazing how we convince ourselves that we need to be active when we are convalescing, the push from our mind is very strong. I have come to realise through connecting more with my body how much I took my body for granted and that I was not willing to allow myself the space to be with myself. I have now learnt that in aligning to our body and our natural rhythm and listening to what our body communicates we are able to know exactly what to do and when to truly nurture ourselves.

  22. We think we’re clever by trying to outsmart our own bodies….but we have no idea what we are dealing with. Our bodies are not something to be reckoned with, I too have learnt this the hard way…and the more attention I pay to it, the more obvious the signals.

  23. Hehe “Some of us, especially the “smart” ones, can be slow learners!” – and how great it is that everyone has this best divine-connected friend on its side: our body, which reflects to us everything we choose against our original state of being =Love.

  24. I had an operation last year where I needed to stay in bed and rest for a number of weeks. It was a great lesson for me to learn to stop doing and deeply care and rest for myself. It wasn’t easy, after the first week I wanted to do things, but the body doesn’t lie and it told me very quickly that I needed to get back in bed and rest. This temptation to clean the house and sort things out settled down and I just let go of trying to do. I can say now it was very much worth it.

  25. Thank you Anne, a beautiful lesson in appreciating that we are enough by being who we are without all the doing and allow others to enjoy caring for us.

  26. Ha ha Anne, as a fellow ‘smart one’ I hear you! Like you, I’ve long let my mind run the show and have often ‘…started to feel empty because I was not “doing” anything…’ What an abject lesson for you and all of us who are inclined not to surrender to what the body knows it needs; who seek self-worth and identification through activity. I haven’t had my leg blow up, but the diagnosis of a thyroid condition several years ago has certainly helped me reassess my approach. What fabulous teachers our bodies are.

  27. We have this false illusion which I have fallen for many times that when we have done some work we feel better, relying on that which is outside of ourselves to pick us up and make us feel better. Yes of course to commit to life and live in regard of ourselves, things need to get done, but I am learning big time that it is not the end result that counts but the way in which I do the activity, e.g. was I present with myself or was my mind wandering, what was the quality of my energy e.g. was I present and rough or was I loving and gentle with myself. The focus is on me, my relationship with myself and not what I am doing to get recognition and praise from others.

  28. The problem is that although we may be the smart one or ones, we are only smart about one very specialised thing. We have created a society of people who are very clever about one thing but know little to nothing about anything else. And where is wisdom in all this? Nowhere.

  29. If we don’t listen to our bodies and what it is communicating, then it doesn’t matter how ‘smart’ we think we are, we will always discover at some point that we have taken a wrong turn. Being responsible for our choices in life is something we can never ultimately avoid… and nor should we want to if we could begin to fathom what enormous healing and benefit to all is on offer by accepting that responsibility and making different choices.

  30. A simple sharing of a common way where we ignore our body and let our mind rule. We know what is good for us and what not.

  31. Sadly, but true, in our society today our worth is validated by what we do. This culture is introduced to us at a very young age when we are rewarded with attention for the things we do. Over-riding our truth and disregarding our bodies for the sake of recognition, acceptance, approval or being seen as good is harming us, as we live less of the love we already are. Thank you Anne, for sharing the truth of the conditioning that we all have to overcome to return to live in connection to the real quality within us, that not only reflects who we already are, but also truly guides us to live all that we are.

  32. This is a great sharing Anne highlighting how choosing to go into our mind separates us from feeling present and in touch with our body and how it is feeling so that instead of allowing our body to truly rest and heal the mind distracts us to go into activity denying ourselves what is truly needed in that moment.

  33. With respect it’s funny to see Doctors not listening to Doctors’ advice. This article is for me symbolic, in that if we honoured and allowed what we actually felt to be expressed, we would be through things fairly swiftly and yet we don’t and apply ‘our thinking’ to the situation and end up learning another way. Which usually takes twice as long and is more painful as well as stressful, not only on us but everyone involved. I think this is a great article as I am unwell at the moment and I can see some of myself in what is being said, funnier still.

  34. Its a common tale of going back to work or chores to early after recovering from illness. What you offer is it is a great insight to the reason why. Is it because we just don’t want to have time with ourselves, no distractions, no activity, and is it because we need to allow the support of others in full.

  35. Great blog, we can be our own worst enemies when we try to plough through the day because we don’t want to let others down or we don’t want to be seen as weak, when the truth is if we honour ourselves first when we are ill, or needing to recover we will be back on our feet much sooner than if we try and override what our body is asking us to do, deeply rest and lovingly look after ourselves.

  36. Although painful, sometimes lessons are needed to break down our stubbornness to see a truth we were refusing to consider or living in opposition to. I love how the body and life can be such wise counselors, lovingly nudging us back onto the path we should have never strayed from.

  37. I can relate to that Anne, how many messages have I ignored and overridden only to be brought back to what is needed to know, by a body that is far more intelligent than any ideas or timescales I might have had otherwise planned?

  38. ‘I started to feel empty because I was not “doing” anything…’ This morning as I woke and laid still, feeling into my body and where it was at, I remembered Serge Benhayon’s beautiful quote:

    ‘Your daily chores and deeds do not add up to your worthiness, for the loveliness was there at the birth of the day’.

    Understanding and living this has been (and still is) one of the most difficult things for me to accept, as I suspect it is for most women (and men). I understand the difficulty you faced Anne in not being able to feel yourself as enough without having to lift a finger.

  39. ‘…perhaps for the first time, I could really feel the pain of how I had lived, against the truth of what I knew.’ Again Anne, I so get this. Yesterday evening I did an Esoteric Yoga session for the first time in a while and felt a restlessness, a disturbance, I don’t usually feel. I put it down to something I ate but pondering it further I came to see what I was feeling was the result of unwanted emotions I had digested, and had been digesting, for some time. Feeling that, which I had been relaying into a self-loathing of my body and a beating up of myself, was what was truly bugging me. I was feeling the impact of how I’d lived.

  40. Thank you for being so transparent and generous with your life because you are so willing to share with all of us, each lesson that is there for you, is equally there for all of us. I have trouble allowing support and stopping, I can get stubborn and can convince myself that I have to be there for others and if I stop, I have this sense that everything will fall apart, in short, it is my control issues, it is my way of hiding and avoiding stillness.
    The more stories I hear about the possible benefits of surrender, the better.

  41. I can feel the enormous ‘Ouch’ of your lesson Anne and one that hopefully will support us all in recognising that is it very important to allow our bodies the space to heal when they require it, unfettered by our self centred need for recognition or rewards.

  42. I love what you have highlighted here Anne. The mind can trick us when we allow it to, and we choose to react to thoughts that take us away from feeling and listening to what our body is communicating what is truly needed.

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