Depending on what you’re measuring it could be an incredibly long or an incredibly short time. Consider building a cathedral in 72 hours versus holding your breath for 72 hours.
For me, 72 hours is the length of time that my patience lasts before giving out entirely.
I took ill last week. Typical symptoms: sniffles, scratchy throat, fatigue. Never fear! I will fight these germs head on! I stayed home from work, cancelled all plans for three days, hydrated, rested, and barely left my bed for 72 hours.
And after waking myself up in a colossal coughing fit on the morning of the fourth day, I became enraged. I did everything right! I laid low, took care of myself, used a dozen boxes of Kleenex. And everything north of my diaphragm was revolting against me. My patience was gone; I felt I deserved health at this point.
I ripped the covers off in a huff to begin the de-snotting process, “God help me if I’m ever really, really sick.”
I am literally surrounded by people fighting off illness, injury, infection, and infirmity at work. Children and families who are stuck in bed (and sitting bedside) for far longer than 72 hours. So instead of being angry, I’d like to say:
To the high risk mama with the aching back after weeks (months!) of bedrest, your work is worth it. I see you.
To the little kid who had brain surgery and has been stuck in bed with tubes and drains ever since just longing to get up and play. I see you.
To the mom and dad of all my little patients wondering about the future and sitting crib-side holding little hands. Your care is powerful. I see you.
To everyone who has ever been sick, bedridden, silenced, downcast, or sidelined. My 72 hours has given me just a taste of your story. I see you. I want this experience of lost patience and waning health to help me see you even more.
To feel seen is a powerful thing.