It was a time to learn how to spend time

Posted 11/15/18

Last week I promised not to go into great detail about my recent visit to an area hospital for a procedure and recovery and that’s still my intention. But if you’ll permit, I’d like …

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It was a time to learn how to spend time

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Last week I promised not to go into great detail about my recent visit to an area hospital for a procedure and recovery and that’s still my intention. But if you’ll permit, I’d like to share some information that was revealed to me upon returning home.

On coming back to our little corner of Chatham County after the initial surgery and after a complication several days later, I discovered that, at least for the short haul, I had little to do . . . and more time in which to do it.

A lack of stamina and energy were the main culprits. All the experts said that was normal, that it would “take time” to get up to speed, and that I shouldn’t be too concerned about all that. “Just do what you feel like doing or want to do” was the constant advice. That was a good deal, I reasoned, and I was hoping Shirley was hearing that – for then and later.

So, in trying to be a good patient and help my recovery along, that’s what I did. If I were hungry, I ate – a jar of peanut butter here, a loaf of bread there, two gallons of tea and a box of cookies. It was great. If I wanted to talk on the phone, just punch in the numbers or answer it when someone called and yak as long as my tired arms could hold the handset.

And if and when I became tired, regardless of the time of day, take a nap. “Listen to your body,” the docs said. “It’s trying to tell you something. Eat all you want to start with because your body is screaming for calories for healing and go to sleep when you need it.”

The eating part wasn’t a problem and it wasn’t a problem to take a nap. The problem became that after sleeping from 3:30 in the afternoon until 8:00 I wasn’t sleepy when I’d go to bed at 10:00. So, rather than toss and turn and wake up Shirley, I got into the habit of getting up, making a cup of coffee and flipping on the television.

Here’s what I learned and want to share with you: there is nothing on television at 4:00 in the morning . . . unless you want to learn how Dr. Ho relieves back pain or want to purchase a shark vacuum.

Sometimes there might be a rebroadcast of a ball game; I watched some of the World Series that way but it still turned out that the Red Sox won. And occasionally I’d find Matt Dillon sending Chester or Festus on a mission or Miss Kitty saying, “Be careful, Matt” or all the Waltons taking turns saying “Goodnight.”

But that wasn’t usually the case. Mercifully, sometimes I’d drift off to sleep while sitting in the recliner but that didn’t always happen either. Finally, another revelation broke through, namely that I’d be better off when this situation occurred to retire to my study and read. That was a quiet activity, no noise from the television or lights on in the den to annoy folks sleeping when they should be sleeping, and maybe I’d learn something.

So, toward the end of that way of life, I was reading more and more: books that I’d put on top of the file cabinet or stacked on the floor to read “someday,” devotional materials and the Bible in the quiet of early morning, books previously read that needed another go, even some of the dusty newspapers that took up a corner.

I’d be lying if I said I’d finished them all; that’ll never happen. But I think I figured out there are ways to spend time and then there are better ways to spend time.
We still have the TV but the silence – and benefits – of reading often trumps the noise of the electronics. Try it if you’re awake at 2:30 AM. At least, maybe you can learn it without visiting your neighborhood hospital.

Bob Wachs, hospital


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