Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Waiting Room

One of the first things I noticed as the wife of a cancer patient: The dreaded waiting room.

The Anxious One.
This one actually starts in the car over. Fluttery feelings in my chest and gut. Either talking too much or not enough. Thinking of all the bad things the doctor is going to tell us. I think these feelings just intensify as we walk in the doctors office. Then they make us wait, and wait, and wait some more. Seriously, I know its the "waiting room" but c'mon this is inhumane! Usually for me the longer I have to wait, the more anxious I get. Looking around at the other folks waiting.
Are they about to find out they have cancer?
Have they been coming here for years?
Are they a survivor?
Do the older ones feel bad for us because we're going through cancer so early in our marriage?
Will I have a marriage this time next year?
What about in six months?
Am I strong enough to hear what they're going to tell us?
Then, the nurse appears and calls his name...

The Sad One.
This one is the one where we've already received the bad news. This is the one where they've taken him back without me and I have to wait alone. This is the one where I cry alone, unabashedly because I'm  just sad. There's no other way to describe it, just sadness. I don't notice the others waiting with me in the sad one. I don't even care about them. The sad one usually comes equipped with ways to cheer up those of us waiting in the sadness. Perhaps a piano player or singer? The sad ones like to provide extras that "normal" waiting rooms don't. I think this is how you know you're dealing with the lowest of the low, saddest of the sad. They provide entertainment to brighten your sad wait. In my sad opinion, this little nugget only makes things even sadder.

The Tired One.
This one is the one that even the double shot espresso cant keep me awake. The tired one usually starts before six am. This is the one I fall asleep in and its also the most crowded. I may or may not snore so loudly I wake myself up in this one. We don't need to discuss this one at length. I'll likely be  embarrassed about the tired one for years to come.

The Easy One.
This one usually only happens after being in the cancer game for at least six months. There are familiar faces in this one. We're friends with the folks sitting across from us. We're friends with the receptionists in this one. We know when they call us back the news will be good. We might even be happy to be in this waiting room. I like to smile or look extra pleasant to the people who look like they're in the anxious one. I feel empowered in this room. I'm strong. I'm a freakin' cancer wife. I've been doing this for a while now and I've mastered it. This is the one I don't mind, I might even look forward to this waiting room.

All of this waiting occurs in the same room. My Easy One might be your Tired One. In my Anxious One I didn't even hear that piano in the corner. I couldn't hear it, I only heard the questions in my head. In my Sad One I didn't see the friendly face across the room smiling at me from her Easy One because she's been in the Sad One too and frankly, it sucks. All these rooms are equally as important, they are all part of the journey.

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