As a child, I was terrified of needles (I realize that may be a common experience). For whatever reason, when the time for a shot came I always got a nurse who had less than stellar bedside manner.
One time in particular sticks out more than others. I was going in for a scheduled needle prick, somewhere between 8 and 10 years old. I had spent the car ride absolutely terrified, looking for any reason to get out of it. No dice. The time in the waiting room, for once at Jennie Stuart, was all too short.
My dad tried to calm me down. He told me to concentrate on something else and I would barely notice. The nurse actually sticking me was less helpful. She told me it was going to hurt going in, and then it was going to burn.
I gave her my best “say what now?” face and was about two seconds from hopping off that table and making a break for it. Instead, I tried my dad’s suggestion of focusing on something else (I got lost in staring out the window). I felt a small pain, and then a light burning sensation, and then it was over. My arm was a little sore.
The shot wasn’t that bad, and if I could remember her name that nurse would have earned an enemy for life.
I didn’t know it then, but that was my first introduction to a simple truth: The wait is almost always worse. More than that, the longer the wait, the worst it gets. I know it’s that way for me. I’m impatient, waiting on the microwave to ding is hard for me. If patience is how you act when forced to wait, then I have never even been introduced to the concept.
Waiting is not exclusive to pain. Some people are waiting for love, others for relief, or a cure, and so on.
It’s the hardest thing we do. The hardest thing about waiting is knowing there’s no way around it. It makes us want to hurry, find a resolution quickly and move on.
When the wait is indefinite, it gets worse. You find yourself asking how long could this last, how long until my wait is over? This is especially true for pain, internal or otherwise. When dealing with a loss, for instance, we find ourselves wondering if we will ever stop waiting for the pain to subside.
Some people say the longer you wait for something the more you appreciate it. I think that’s crap. Yes, anything worth having is worth waiting for. That doesn’t mean you’re going to appreciate it less. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (that’s right, there’s a saying for everything).
It took me a long time to accept waiting as part of my life. When I would deal with it, I would throw distractions at myself left and right to prevent from confronting it. Nothing really works, you still feel it gnawing at your soul.
We have to accept it as part of the human condition. The only way forward is one step at a time, right? It helps to remember that the wait is the worst part, and that’s this week’s small victory.
(JESSE JONES is the editor of The Eagle Post, a member of the Kentucky New Era Media Group. Email email@example.com if you thought of that Tom Petty song reading this column.)