Thursday 16 January 2014

Thought Picnic: Comfort and comforting

Where is it?
Making it out to the hospital for my quarterly check-ups was a bit fraught as I literally turned the room upside-down looking for my Oyster travel card.
I mentally know where I put it but having had some cleaning up done in the room by someone else, things might have been moved and hence the bit of an upheaval.
In the end, I had to use a spare Oyster travel card, but that meant a call to the hospital that I would be running a little later than the scheduled appointment.
Don’t cry
My doctor was duly informed as I arrived some 10 minutes late and waited in the waiting room to be called.
There sat a beautiful and quite tastefully dressed lady almost opposite me, and as she contemplated and collected her thoughts, her face contorted, and she began to cry, that was quite upsetting for me.
So, I approached her and asked if she was fine, she responded and composed herself for not even a minute before she started to cry again.
I went to sit beside her and tried to comfort her, holding her hand, she had received a diagnosis just two days before, and she was lost about the realisation that this was life-changing and possibly a life sentence.
She did not know if she could tell her parents and she was very scared, each concern she had very valid and understandable, so I started with my own story.
Care to share
I learnt of my own status over 11 years ago and before me lay difficult choices and decisions, some that I tackled and others I ignored until my health deteriorated precipitously in 2009 leading to a cancer diagnosis. With that came the possibility that I would be gone in 5 weeks, yet in December I celebrated my 5th birthday after diagnosis.
Fear, is a natural response that we all can entertain, but we need to decide what to do with that emotion, be frozen in despair or gain new determination beyond it.
This situation calls for primary concerns, first to yourself, your well-being, your happiness and then your extended support circle which might or might not include your relations. However, it is left for your relations to decide if they would reaffirm their love and care or walk away but that should not occupy one’s mind.
Learn and accept
I advised her to keep to the regimen of drugs prescribed, ensure she understands all the intricacies of the tests, what they mean and how the outcomes impact other decisions she might have to make in the future.
Most importantly, I told her, we are where we are today and what she must begin to do is gain acceptance of her diagnosis, in doing so, she would have the opportunity to look beyond the present and commence the new pursuit of happiness, living her life to the full.
During this session, the nurse had arrived for her but did not disturb us until I finished. I do hope she would have gained the strength to face things beyond the tears she shed today. I believe she would.
Soon afterwards, my doctor called me in and as we reviewed the tale of the bloods, one indicator that had stuck on a low reading for years finally exceeded a number I last saw in 2005.
All other indicators looked good too, what is there not be thankful and grateful for? To help, to comfort, to share and then to hear good news – that is the essence of life, even though we carry in ourselves the sentence of death, we do not live like we are dying, but live in the fullness of knowing that this one life we have is worth living well.

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