Waiting Rooms

Time passes excruciatingly slowly in waiting rooms. It’s exhausting. The bulk of my oncology visits are spent waiting. At my last visit, I looked around at all the others waiting. Observing who was around me made the minutes pass more quickly.

There was one patient near me wearing a bandana on her head with a mask on. She was on her phone planning a vacation for October because she “should be able to go then” as she told her husband.

Her husband and another woman were working on a jigsaw puzzle. I gathered they already knew one another by the warm hug they shared as a greeting.

Next to me, there was an older man wearing a mask who was there with his wife. Both were reading books.

Another older couple waited. The woman was engrossed in a book and the man had his eyes glued to his phone.

There was another older man there by himself in a rocking chair on his phone. He was called back soon after I began taking stock of the waiting room.

A woman who walked with a cane perhaps in her sixties and her daughter were the next to head back to the treatment area.

There was a man across the room who came in single digit degree weather wearing shorts and donning a camouflaged hat. I think he was the patient.

A woman fidgeted her leg while she flipped through the pages of a magazine. Another older man near her read a book. My assessment was they were waiting for someone but I didn’t have anything solid to form my opinion.

A woman maybe in her late thirties wore a black headwrap with a top knot bun tied in front. Her husband was with her. He looked tired. She looked healthier than he did and my guess was she was the patient.

A senior lady slowly moved about on her own, wisps of gray hair sticking out of a coral crocheted cancer cap. She settled into one of the rockers.

Me.

Alone.

Not everyone came with a caregiver or companion. That observation surprised me because it seems I read or hear so much about caregiver support. I prefer being on my own because my days when I have a full schedule of appointments at the hospital get long and there is no reason for someone else to be with me. I am grateful to be able to manage well by myself when I make trips there on average three weeks out of every month, more during testing windows.

The TV blared an action movie that no one watched. It’s usually news or something claiming to be news on other days.

Sixteen waited by my count. Most were senior citizens. I was not the youngest one. Five were probably in their 30s or 40s. There were ten women and six men. My guess six of the ten women present were likely patients, compared to four of the six men. Three were black. The rest were white. No other groups were visibly represented by my observations.

All of us were waiting.

Waiting for treatment.

We’re waiting for many “nexts” in our lives.

Waiting for good news.

Waiting for the treatment part of the day to be done so we can go home.

Waiting for chemo fog to lift.

Waiting to not feel depressed.

Waiting to not have anxiety.

Waiting for favorite foods to taste good again.

Waiting for our immune systems to be strong once more.

Waiting for tests to be scheduled and completed.

Waiting for test results.

Waiting for more targeted treatments.

Waiting for research that addresses individual mutations for cancer subtypes.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Waiting for phone calls.

Some may be waiting for a final treatment. Not me. Not having an end in sight is the preferred option for my life.

We all are waiting.

Some of us are waiting for the same things and some for different things.

Waiting rooms are spaces where you stay until things change. I have waited and waited and waited in personal waiting rooms of my own making. I have spent time waiting for others to do their part or pull their crap together. Waiting for others is inevitable when you need them in order to move forward with your part of the whole. It’s effective if you’re working as part of a strong team. Not so much if you’re wishing or hoping that someone maybe does something if they remember or have time. Waiting is hard for me because I am a doer.

I don’t like waiting and sometimes that’s the only thing left to do.

I am tired of waiting.

My wait was surprisingly short for this specific treatment visit. The waiting room looked different when it was time for me to leave about an hour later. More seats were filled. It looked like men outnumbered women.

The one factor that remained the same . . .

Everyone was still waiting.

We wait.

Author: Kristie Konsoer

I am a breast cancer survivor, living well with metastatic breast cancer since 2012. This blog is a place where I can share thoughts and ideas on how I feel perceptions of cancer must change, and how I am finding a way to live with strength, hope, meaning, resiliency, humor, and hopefully a little wisdom.

10 thoughts on “Waiting Rooms”

  1. I despise waiting too!! This life with cancer is full of waiting and with less to do, I find myself settling in at times with a good book or an intriguing television show on my iPad. While I am also a do-er, I prefer distraction to fuming about waiting. Thank you for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wrote this to reflect who I observed in the waiting room that day and give a glimpse into some of the things men and women wait for in oncology waiting rooms. No one is immune to waiting. Thanks for reading!

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  2. Question: On those all-day appointments, why would you say that there is no reason to have someone spend part or all of the day waiting with you?
    Your friendship is special to many. Having time with such a friend could be lovely -especially in the waiting room. I recall waiting with you and your mom. I had cleared my calendar so as to have as much time with you as was needed. I felt my time was so well spent and even, sacred. Seeing you on another day ask God for blessings as your chemo was about to begin and I felt immersed and empowered in your prayer.
    Could it be that you treasure the alone time to do whatever you want to do while waiting -reading, writing, listening to a podcast, …? No reason to negotiate or talk about what will be happening next?
    Some long days alone can become centering. Others long days can be annoying. I want you to have the power to change those waiting days into a periodic friendship day, whenever you would wish. Journeying alone or with friends can be the best way to fill waiting rooms. Don’t exclude the person who would jump at the chance to be with you, waiting and journeying with you.

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    1. A thorough and heartfelt response as always. I have been grateful for your company but would much rather have it when we can focus completely on things like pancakes, writing, and supporting one another, rather than have medical distractions in the background. They interfere too much anyway. You have come with me, and yes, I treasure that time. And yes, I treasure the time on my own that sometimes can be centering. We’ll talk.

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