When You’re Waiting for News About Your Medical Condition

On September 25, 2016 I was diagnosed with multiple bilateral pulmonary emboli. It was one of the scariest days of my life. I have had many chronic illnesses for 20 years now, but I was never given a life-threatening diagnosis. I have faced many rough days, and have spent many nights awake with fear, but this hit me the hardest.

I didn’t know how I was going to deal with this information.

I usually work through difficult situations by writing blogs and poetry. This was new territory for me, though. I never had to write about a life-threatening situation I was in the middle of. This was not fiction, or a distant memory. This was happening now, and writing about it would make it all too real.

I had to try to distance myself from it in order to survive. I had to try to forget there are blood clots all over my lungs that could kill me in an instant. These could take me away from my family, this beautiful Earth and all that I love.

I tried to distract myself, I tried to keep busy, I tried to rest, I fought to get through the day.

I’m sorry to all of you who are currently facing life-threatening diseases or illnesses. In my own way, I believe I understand more about how you might feel. I wish you hope, strength and lots of love.

I was told I would have to take blood thinners for up to six months. I’m extremely sensitive to medications and was not able to tolerate the pill forms of these medications. I was able to tolerate a different type in the hospital, so my hematologist agreed to let me take it, though it wasn’t the normal protocol.

My husband — who is a registered nurse — injected me twice daily with this life-saving medication. It prevents the existing clots from getting bigger, and it prevents new clots from being formed. The shots in the stomach are painful and have left my entire abdomen bruised and tender. I bruise and bleed easily now and have to avoid doing anything that could result in a bad injury, especially to the head.

Some people do fine on the blood thinners, but since I’m so sensitive, it has been very difficult for me to stay on them. I have asthma, chronic Lyme disease and anxiety, and this medication has made these conditions worse for me. I feel strange, dizzy, nauseous and not like myself. My life has been put on hold these past four and a half months, and I haven’t been able to enjoy much. I’ve barely gone anywhere besides taking my children to school. I keep dreaming about and planning for better days.

I have not been able to write much due to my anxiety, and the fact that I feel like I can’t put into words what I’m going through until it’s over. I’m so frozen with fear, I can’t think clearly. I have many words trapped in my head. I look forward to the day when they flow freely, dancing around the page, unencumbered, raw and beautiful. Though I’m so grateful and lucky to be alive, I can’t wait to feel like I’m truly living again.

And that brings me to the phone call.

Yesterday, I had a CT lung angiogram with contrast. This test allows the radiologist to see if my blood clots are gone. This test will let me know if I can breathe again, with less anxiety, and more joy, and more fun times with my family. A family I feel as if I have woefully neglected for a long time. I’ve been sad, scared and angry for too long. I pray I get the chance to make it up to them.

My hematologist is supposed to call me today with the results. I jump each time the phone rings. My heart starts beating very rapidly like the “Tell-Tale Heart.”

Many of us face difficult days when we’re awaiting news from a doctor’s office or hospital. Those days seem like weeks. Each hour seems like days.

What kinds of things can we do to pass the time while we wait? What can ease our anxiety and keep us busy so the day goes by quicker?

Here are a few suggestions based on things that have helped me:

  1. Have a loved one spend the day with you. Someone who makes you feel calm, secure and loved. Someone who will keep you company and make the time go by swiftly. Someone who manages to make you smile or laugh even under the toughest circumstances.
  2. Have someone there with you when you receive the news/updates from the doctor, whether the news is delivered in person or over the phone. Just knowing someone will be there will help ease some of the anxiety while you wait.
  3. Whether you choose to be with someone or alone, plan something to keep you busy. Whether it’s a visit to a local museum, mall, or movie theater – make it something to look forward to, and try to have a little fun.
  4. Netflix marathon! For me, I have gotten through many hard days with “Outlander,” “Game of Thrones,” “Downton Abbey,” “Turn” and “Justified” by my side.
  5. Phone a friend. Call someone you can talk to for hours. Catch up and pass the time in a wonderful way.
  6. Volunteer for a day or a couple of hours. Sometimes the best way to pass time is by helping others.
  7. Go for a walk/hike. Spending time outdoors can be so soothing, and it can help put life into perspective.
  8. Spa day! Relaxation and pampering is what you deserve while facing a difficult day.
  9. Hobby time! Do whatever hobby you enjoy and watch the time fly.
  10. Start a new book. By putting ourselves into someone else’s world, we can sometimes forget our own.
  11. Join an online support group for your medical condition or whatever you are facing. I belong to quite a few, and they are very helpful and encouraging.

And so I wait, and in between taking and picking up my children from school, I will hope, I will pray, I will keep busy and I will try to believe that I will receive good news.

All of us need good news.

Let’s hope it comes soon.

Editor’s note: Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

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