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.