Posted on: January 17th, 2011 by

My blog has shared strategies for self-advocacy and navigating through the medical system. Part of my advice has included how to stay calm in the waiting room by thinking of 10 positive, empowering words to describe yourself, as well as bringing an arsenal of tools to help people cope with waiting in the examination room.

Well, this week, I should have taken my own advice and printed out those 10 words. This week I should have brought the words with me to my back-to-back doctor followup appointments.

But this week I allowed the dark side of my mind to take over.

 I chose to allow fear to possess me. Even though the doctor’s appointments went well, I had all these catastrophic thoughts and flashbacks to when I had cancer, treatments, and surgeries. In fact, my throat closed up and I found it difficult to breathe. My hands were shaking.

I was having a panic attack.

I could’ve used those 10 empowering words, and I wonder, why I didn’t take my own advice from Re-examining the Examining Room Wait? Why did I leave my music, sketching pad, pencils, and journal at home? Why did I choose to embrace fear rather than fighting it?

I don’t have the answers, really, except that I’m human.

Like any patient, I can be frail and fail to deliver on self-empowerment. The part that gets me is that I know these self-empowerment strategies work; I have used them countless times. Yet, I did not even think about using the tools I had in my toolbox.

That’s worse than having no toolbox at all.

The tools for coping with doctor’s appointments were in my very hands, but I let them slip away, inviting panic instead.

I have a bone density test toward the end of this week; this test will assess how much bone I am losing or gaining. The chemo and a variety of meds leached a good amount of bone over the years, so going through this test is psychological agony for me. The test is physically easy; it’s the fear of bad results that is hard.

For this test, I am retooling: I am taking control by retooling to filter out the fear. I am bringing the list of 10 empowering words, as well as a variety of tools to help me cope while I wait to get the bone density test.

Readers, when has fear taken over your mind relating to a doctor’s/diagnostic test appointment? How have you handled it — the good, bad, and ugly? I would appreciate your sharing your thoughts.


4 Responses to Retooling

  1. nancyspoint had this to say about that:

    As you said, Beth, you are human. Often it’s easier said than done to do for ourself what we know we should. Sometimes I think you just have to let yourself feel too, even if it is fear you are feeling, the tricky part is not letting it overtake you. For me what helps is writing. I write down my thoughts – fears and all. I believe journaling is a very powerful tool. Then later on I look back on what I wrote and see I survived after all. As a writer, you probably already do that though. Good luck with your test this week, Beth.

  2. Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

    Nancy, thanks for your insightful points. You are so right when you say that the tricky parts is not to allow the fear to overtake you. I work hard on keeping this from happening and it’s always an inner battle.

    Like you, I do journal, and I agree that writing is really helping me sort through things. Thank you for your well wishes about my test this week; whatever the outcome, I’ve decided to remain strong.

    Keep writing! Your blog is awesome.

  3. Chez had this to say about that:

    Beth, I sincerely regret that you had a brief lapse, particularly as it actually led to real panic on your part. For me it is encouraging that you have chosen to share, simply because it reminds me that we ARE all human. For those of us endeavouring to write from a more positive perspective it is nice to know we can have a lapse, albeit ‘brief’ only to pick ourselves up again.
    I too will be having a bone scan this coming week. I feel sure you will regain your composure and leave any negative thoughts, or fears, at the door.
    My best wishes for a great outcome with your test results. Love Chez xo

  4. Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:


    Thank you for your kind words! Yes, I wanted to share this medical experience because every one has those bad days. The bone scan went well; I used the tools in my toolbox and came out fine. Still waiting for the results. I wish you luck getting your bone scan.

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