Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Learning to Tolerate the Waiting

Good Morning Cancer Patients;
I was reminded today when I was standing in a long line waiting to renew my license how I have distilled waiting down to its essence. The cancer treatment journey is filled with waiting. I think the whole process was designed around waiting. If you are not very tolerant of waiting and waiting annoyes you as it used to annoy me, you are going to be in for a series of long waits and miserable aggravations.

One of the first things cancer treatment taught me was how to wait, because you spend enormous amounts of time waiting - waiting to register, waiting to be called, waiting to have your vital signs taken, waiting for blood to be drawn, waiting to be admitted, waiting to have tests run, waiting for test results, waiting for the oncologist to see you, waiting for the infusion nurse to connect you to the infusion pump, and waiting, waiting, waiting some more.

Being good at waiting is an acquired skill. One I acquired and mastered during my journey with cancer. I sometimes wondered as I was graciously waiting, if the reason for the wait was because no one expected me to show up at the appointment time they gave me and were surprised and not ready when I showed up. Since I had begun to recognize I would be doing a great deal of waiting on this journey I figured I had 2 choices - First, get aggravated and complain which would do nothing but waste my energy and aggravate the help - Second, learn how to deal with it. I chose the latter.

The way I began to tolerate it was I began to expect to wait and therefore came prepared to do something with the wait time. I always brought my own materials to read and my cell phone for calls I had to make. When I ran out of things to do that I brought with me I began to watch and observe what was going on. How many people were waiting? What was the average wait time? What was the demographics of those that were waiting? How were the people waiting being treated by the service providers? How many service reps were there and how many of them were waiting on people to be serviced? I found observing what was going on to be much more entertaining than anything I had brought with me to occupy the wait time.

Today I still use this approach to waiting and waiting doesn't bother me. My attitude is - Its like being in church, and as long as you have to be there, you may as well get something out of it. Enjoy the waiting...

Dealing with the Fear

Good Morning Cancer Patients;
There is never a good time to be diagnosed with cancer and as soon as that happens you become overwhelmed by the fear factor. Unfortunately the fear factor will be your companion on your journey with cancer from here on out. I don't think it ever goes away, only subsides in its intensity. The sooner you can get control of your fear, the sooner you stop wasting your needed energy and strength on the fear and start using them for treatment and recovery, as well as living a quality life with cancer as more cancer patients do today.

Don't underestimate the grip fear can have on you with cancer and how it can demotivate you and distract you from executing the task at hand, which is to get through the treatment and contribute to its success. As your journey continues you will find the fear factor interfering at various times: waiting to hear about test results; getting tested; going through surgery; feeling new pains in your body; worrying about recurrence; and numerous other times. You should recognize when the intensity the fear increases and begin to settle it quickly.

Several ways to settle the fear include: mentally removing yourself from the situation that has caused the fear to intensify; recognizing the toll the fear can have on you and mentally forcing it out of your thought process when it emerges; creating a distraction so you won't dwell on what is causing the fear; continue living your life and not letting the fear interrupt you.

Fear on this journey is not your friend but it is your companion. Don't let it strip you of the energy you need for treatment and recovery.