Thursday, July 31, 2008

Life in the Waiting Room

Yesterday I got to thinking, how do other people handle the stress of their loved ones undergoing surgery, or severe illness?

On TV, the loved ones seem to gulp mass quantities of coffee, spend anxiety-ridden moments in tears and reliving every moment with others until the dr appears with the good or bad news.

I don't operate that way.

When D had back surgery in 1995, I spent 6 wonderful hours with my notebook, happily working on Forbidden Love, and the only anxiety I felt was when I happened to be writing a steamy sex scene and the chaplain came over to offer spiritual support. Talk about an embarassing moment! I was silently praying he would NOT ask me what I was writing! And when another woman sat near me with a book, I noticed it was a Victoria Holt, and commented on the title. We had a wonderful discussion on favorite authors!

In 2003, when D had his heart valve replaced, yeah, I spent some quiet solitude (it was 6am) in quiet prayer, and then promptly opened my notebook and began writing what was in my head. Two hours later, when the rest of my family arrived for emotional support, I had written the prologue to (working title here) Love is Weightless (Yes, I'll change it! It's #7 in the series) and was eager for my SIL's reaction to it. I was also well into chapter 1.

Later that day, when my children arrived and I could not write due to the noise level in the room (not to mention that after we went to lunch, I lost my quiet corner!), and the doctors had been out to tell me everything had gone well, I coped by getting on the telelphone and calling people who were anxiously waiting for news of his operation.

And the next month, when I discovered the computer on the 3rd floor, I started sending emails to everyone with daily updates. I've already told you how I coped with his near death experience (can't remember the exact post, but it's in there somewhere...I'll find it and let you know what date), and yesterday, I surprised D when I lugged the laptop to the hospital.

I wasn't able to access the internet, but I did get a rough blurb and synopsis written while my 16-year-old baby was having his throat cut into. And when he needed me, I was there, holding his hand, feeling him the cherry slushy, and wiping his face when he vomited. I've given him his painkillers (liquid form!) and his nausea pill, and put up with his grumpiness over being hungry, yet not able to eat anything solid just yet. And yes, he was very upset when he discovered his father had eaten the last of the mashed potatoes the night before! But we hauled out the blender and fixed him a milkshake, and he settled down again.

So tell do you cope when a loved one is ill? What's your waiting room attitude? Mine was also irritation, since I liked my corner and could write in peace. But when I lost it, I coped by being cheerful and sharing progress with others.

UPDATE: K got up at 3:30 this am and played 'Mobsters' on MySpace. I guess he's feeling a little better?


Sandra Cox said...

Funny about writing the steam scene when the chaplain was walking in:)
I go the same route you do, either write or read.

barbara huffert said...

Don't know...mine never seem to make it to the waiting room stage.

Regina Carlysle said...

Sounds like he's doing great. Tonsilectomy? Went through that twice with my kids. Paced and paced. Drank coffee until I was sick. We all do what we have to do to get through these things.

Anny Cook said...

I take a bunch of books and read.

jackie said...

My waiting room/ family illmess procedures? Man, I have had a bunch of practise this year. I pray...A LOT!
Then it seems I spent a large amount of time reflecting on past moments with who is ever at the particular crisis.
Then it is list/phone call time. I get my mind off of things by prioritizing my world on paper, phone calls, clothing needed for the loved one, personal hygeine needs, personal objects i.e. pictures, stuffed animals, books.
Then I interact with my suroundings. Because I don't have the small children you do, I can put myself into my own "little world" without difficulty