The Limits of Patience: A Second-Class Citizen in the Land of Time

11 Jan

By SULEIKA JAOUAD 

“The anxiety of waiting is not continuously violent; it has its matte moments; I am waiting, and everything around my waiting is stricken with unreality.” -Roland Barthes

Today, sometime after 12:30 pm, my doctors will decide whether I will get a bone marrow transplant this month.

Those who are ill know that sickness goes hand in hand with waiting — waiting for doctors, appointments, test results, and most importantly, waiting for health and better days. As I sit in the Ruttenberg Center of Mount Sinai Hospital this morning, each passing minute lives in its own world.

Every second of every day of the past eight months has been spent waiting for news about my transplant — my only lifeline to the world of health and recovery. These last moments of suspense seem especially unfair. I am left to wonder: does patience have limits?

Disease infects both your body and your relationship with time. It not only robs you of your health, but it also usurps your dominion over time.

Eastern thinkers and spiritualists encourage us to live in the present. (I’m simplifying here, but you get my drift.)  But all I have now is the present. Life-threatening illness brings a terrible clarity to the “now,” while simultaneously obscuring everything else.

I no longer see the boats on the horizon. They’re shrouded in fog.

From the moment I was diagnosed, I became a second-class citizen in the land of time. Illness corrupts one of life’s most blessed and delicious activities: daydreaming about the future, without fear.

Follow @suleikajaouad on Twitter and on her Facebook Page.

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7 Responses to “The Limits of Patience: A Second-Class Citizen in the Land of Time”

  1. catherine boyer January 11, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    Dear Suleika,
    I’m sending love your way from the west coast!
    Catalina

  2. zoe katzen January 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Suleika, this post is beautiful and haunting. Thank you for being so open in your writing.
    -Zoe

  3. Sergei Stetsenko January 11, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    Dear Suleika, ever since Andrei told me about your desease, I’ve been thinking about you and wishing you get well. I saw you in Princeton at your graduation, and I keep a picture of you, Andrei, Felix and another girl. I now read your blog and admire you for your courage, sincerity. I want you to know that we love you and hope that this terrible page will soon be over, and you will get back to life you were destined to have. You are even more beautiful inside than you are outside. Love. Sergei

  4. Spencer Walle January 11, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    Hoping today went as well as can be.

  5. Camille January 12, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    Tes messages que je lis chaque matin sont de vraies leçons de vie – merci de partager ce que tu apprends de ta propre expérience, ça nous fait tous avancer positivement!
    Je t’embrasse!

  6. david January 12, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    Hi Suleika
    This post was amazing and just nailed it all exactly. I developed fairly quickly the mindset of time and my relation to it. It was all about the hurry up and wait! Life come down to a cycle of wait, test, wait, result, wait next test or treatment, etc.

    Life went on for everyone else, mine was stuck in this cycle of my fight. (don’t want to say disease, just not quite the right word). Care not to speculate much on the longest wait, for surgery, for choice of chemo/radiation (that one sucked), the chemo, wait betweens.

    My waits got to 6 month check ups, then another cancer. My fight went well, both have been vanquished and I have most days not needing to put on my armour, they are easy now.

    I wish you well in the fight, and hope to see you soon at the victory table. I know your foe well!

    Keep writing as well, that is a gift you have there.

  7. Tim January 12, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    You’ve done it once again… now capturing the relationship between cancer and time perfectly.

    I’ve had this conversation with so many people, and only those with cancer seem to experience and understand it so vividly. It can be impossibly difficult to carry on down the path of daily life while you’re waiting for news that will surely change it’s course. Its taken me so long to be able to see through the fog, but glimpses of the future are just now starting to return to me in small doses.

    Its difficult now Suleika- just don’t lose hope… some day you WILL be able to daydream into the future again.

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