I went to my clinic appointment by myself today. Last time I went to an appointment alone I got the worst news ever about the spread of cancer, since then my husband has come along. But he can’t keep taking time off work, so at some point I knew that I would have to start facing these appointments alone. Today was the day.
So how do I approach this? Practical things first:
1. What am I wearing – sounds flippant, but if I feel comfortable and confident in what I look like, I’ll feel better.
2. Don’t arrive too early. Waiting just builds anxiety.
3. Take a distraction, something to read, a good gripping book.
4. Be prepared – take a snack and something to drink – I never know how long I might have to wait.
Get myself in the right mindset:
5. Music to cheer me up on the way. I’ve put together a play list of music that makes me smile and want to sing and dance. Play this loud on my way to the appointment, I’ll arrive buzzing and singing – I can’t feel bad when I’m singing!
6. Walk tall, shoulders back, I will walk through that hospital like I own the place!
Thats a lot for a routine appointment, just to get me there and I’ll have to do this again and again and again.
As I sit there amid the paraphernalia of chemo, the drip stands, the racks of cold caps to prevent hair loss, the trolleys full of goodness knows what, I feel a sense of realisation about my situation and I feel afraid. I am alone in a side room and I can feel the tears starting. But I know that I can choose what I focus on….look out of the window (thank goodness there was one!), I focus on the blue sky and the wispy clouds, gradually the feeling of panic subsides. The nurse returns and I’m ok again.
Sometimes it’s when we are alone, feeling vulnerable and scared that we face our fears and learn the deepest things about ourselves. I wish I wasn’t being tested like this, but I am so I have to rise to the challenge.
I wonder if the staff realise just what it takes to turn up at an appointment.