Tincture of Time

I was thinking about the notion of healing at our weekly All Staff meeting recently as we went through the recitation of our patients and examined their progress as a group.  I can’t tell you how often we need to remind ourselves of that “fifth dimension” to healing: time.  There’s a reason old fashioned physicians counseled younger ones to prescribe a “tincture of time” for many of the ills their patients experienced.

It’s actually a bit like baking bread. Bread needs basically five ingredients: yeast, flour, water, salt and… time.  Time is a literal ingredient, without which there can be no leavened bread. All recipes should really read “you will need the following ingredients” and include the total time needed as one of them.

We are always trying to cut corners; I know I am.  Trying to do things faster, more “efficiently”, sooner.  But if you leave a main ingredient out of the bread recipe, you will fail.

Recovery from injury or illness is no different.  We see this very clearly with the youngest of our patients: first we weight restore them, pouring adequate protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber into their little bodies, turning on the heat of metabolism again.  Once they can, we begin to help them express – then process – their feelings, thoughts, concerns and fears.  Both during, after and in between we are using that precious prescription: tincture of time.  Then the parents begin to get impatient, the children get impatient, the insurance companies get impatient and we get impatient.  Are we there yet?  And a day later, are we there yet?

But there’s no rushing the knitting together of broken bones, of severed tissue and of the brain.  It simply takes time.

If we/you don’t give it time, if we fail to see this dimension for the essential ingredient it is, our patients get partially healed, half-baked and doomed to fall flat after they appear to have risen.

Time heals, didn’t your grandmother tell you that?