Waiting is something we all experience on a daily basis. We wait in supermarkets, on the drive to and from work, at missed lights, in traffic jams and so many other aspects of our daily lives. So why was waiting one of the most difficult challenges I endured as a patient over the past year? I have been thinking about this recently and wanted to share my thoughts and some ideas that I came up with that helped me pass the time during what seemed like unending waits times.
One of the most difficult things about being a patient for me was losing control of my own time. So many times over the past year, I was on someone else’s schedule and had to wait for others to help me do simple things that I could not do for myself.
During chemotherapy treatments, I had to stay in the hospital extra days as my body did not clear the chemo in a timely manner. I also slept a lot during those stays and again when I came home due to the effects of the chemo on my body. In retrospect, I realize that I lost a good amount of time that I will never get back. As a result, I cherish everyday and try to make the most of my time.
In the hospital, I would get frustrated when I had to wait for an aide, a doctor or a nurse as I did not know when they were coming back. Minutes seemed like hours and at times, I felt like they did not value my time which was upsetting to me. I knew the staff was busy and I was not ‘their only patient’, but that rationale only lasted so long.
What helped me to better understand why a delay was happening was having someone take the time to explain why I was waiting. This simple acts of courtesy made such a difference and allowed me better understand the situation.
It was reassuring to know that the staff recognized that waiting was uncomfortable and could be distressing. It was so appreciated when a nurse or secretary would recognize that ‘I was still waiting’ and would smile at me which let me know they had not forgetten me. Many took the time to let me know that I was next or asked me if I wanted a blanket, something to drink or a more comfortable chair. These simple acts of kindness changed a stressful situation into one that allowed me to know that I mattered and was not forgotten.
Many of my visits were in the hospital, clinics, laboratory, radiology departments and/or the doctor’s office where it seemed like the temperature was sub-zero. As a result, my husband and I both learned to dress so we would be warm. In some of the areas, there were blanket warmers which was a nice treat….but being prepared by bringing a sweater and wearing socks to keep my feet warm really helped if the office or clinic did not have a blanket to lend out.
As I knew I would probably have to wait, I brought things that allowed me to pass the time doing things that were important to me. Here are some ideas for you to consider:
- I always had my smart phone with me and made sure if was fully charged. If I was going to be gone all day, I would also take my phone charger so I could recharge as needed. I tried not to talk on my phone unless I was in a private room or a secluded area so I did not disturb anyone else, but did text and use my email to communicate with family and friends
- I also logged onto social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Doing so allowed me to read what everyone was doing, catch up on news briefs and stay connected with other people who were going about their daily lives.
- As it was important to me, I tried to keep up on trends in healthcare and shared posts that I thought colleagues would appreciate. Reading the responses that people posted allowed me to know, I was not alone and had friends and colleagues who valued my opinions and suggestions. I was glad that most of the visits I had were in buildings that had free WIFI which allowed me to stay connected
- Talking to people like housekeeping as they cleaned the room, the aide who made my bed, the nurse as she gave me my medications or the people who delivered the food trays also helped pass the time. Most were glad to talk and joke with me as they did their work and appreciated being recognized for what they were doing. I made some good connections and these people would stop in from time to time to say hello and ask me if I needed anything. This always made me feel good and let me feel that I was part of the team
- During many of my wait times, I would make lists of things I needed my husband to bring if I was in the hospital. Sometimes it was a book that I wanted to read or some clean clothes that I could use as my stay was sometimes extended.
- I also put my ‘bucket list’ together of places I wanted to go, people, I wanted to see or call and things that I wanted to do when I got home. This helped keep me focused and feel useful
- Another task I found that helped to pass the time was coloring. Adult coloring books are the new craze that a lot of people are trying out to help relieve stress. Click here to access a podcast you might want to listen to if you have not heard about this latest craze
- Many times I used the time to say my prayers which helped me relax and allowed me to let go of some of the fear and frustration that I felt
As I look on the positive side, waiting gives us the time to slow down, to reflect and organize our lives.
I hope this post was helpful. Please feel free to share the information if you know someone who is in the hospital, has a lot of doctor’s appointment or is getting treatment that causes them to spend a lot of time alone and WAITING.
I look forward to your ideas on how you pass the time as you WAIT. Please leave a comment in the comment box below or email me at [email protected]