More Waiting

The art of waiting

As I said the other day, waiting is an art form at which I excel. In fact, I was thinking of publishing a book of the drawings I did while waiting for my wife. I’ve gotten pretty good at drawing scenes through the windshield of the car. The dashboard and sun visors frequently appear in my sketches, framing the vistas.

Talk about lemonade! I used to get angry about having to wait. Now, I’m almost disappointed when she gets back before I can put the finishing touches on my sketch.

Waiting and memory

The cool thing about sketching, for me, is when I look back at sketches I’ve done: I remember what was happening at that time. It’s better than photography. For example, if I see one of my dashboard-framed drawings I think, “Oh yeah, that was the time I spent in the Joanne’s parking lot. Look at the detail.” I smile to myself.

Practical uses for the sketchbook and waiting

You wouldn’t believe how effective an 8X10 sketchbook is, when you are waiting by the side of your loved one in her hospital bed. Especially if you ask the nursing staff what is in the IV bag they are hanging, and write it in your book. The doctors take an interest as well, when you are interested in their every word, writing while looking at them and nodding, occasionally asking how to spell a certain medication.

Here is the book I took with me when my wife had to have some operations.

Front cover of Operation Book

Operation book looking at pages spread open

This is important stuff on several fronts. Firstly, everyone realizes that you are paying attention. Secondly, you can inform the next shift about med orders and other minutia from the previous shift, in case the message does not make it through the shift-change report. Thirdly, it is an excellent way to remind your loved one about sequences of events. Frequently a person who is hospitalized doesn’t have a clear idea of what is happening and when it happened. If you are like me, it is easier to have the events written down so a faulty memory does not become an issue.


It is important to be deferential and almost apologetic, when keeping a log like this. A slight shrug of the shoulders and a reference to poor memory is a good tactic. While you don’t want to upset anyone, or risk getting thrown out after visiting hours are over, you have to be upbeat and smile a lot. By and large, the only people who get nervous are those who are not doing a good job. It is not out of bounds to drop the smiley attitude and complain to the shift supervisor or even the patient advocate if you are not getting the best results.

Picture of a toeOne can always show the nurses some of your sketches, if they seem interested. (I promised my wife that I wouldn’t show any sketches of her, but I don’t think she’d mind my showing a picture of her toe. Actually, it could be any toe.)

View of Intensive Care Unit RoomI wrote down some pretty important details once when my wife was in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). I wondered why she was being given a blood clotting agent and a blood thinner at the same time. I asked the doc in charge of the ICU. He scratched his head and said he’d get me the answer. When he got back, he gave me the answer and said that he wished more patients had people doing what I was doing. He said that it would help to reduce errors. I was proud of that.


Waiting is a unique art form. Other skills, observational, personal and interpersonal can be developed concurrently.

Waiting by the elevators

2 thoughts on “More Waiting

  1. This is brilliant! I must take a sketch book in next time – I really like the idea of recording the details. It’s like you’re making the time spent waiting into “real” time not dead time.

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