Awaiting Diagnosis: Tips on Staying Sane
Bladder cancer is the same as any other disease or illness. In that before receiving a final diagnosis a number of "tests" and/or procedures will generally need to be performed.
Awaiting a diagnosis
As we are all probably well too aware there are quite a number of tests and procedures that we need to undergo before we get a "proper" diagnosis. The waiting time for these results can vary from almost immediately with a cystoscopy, as both you and the Doctor are able to view the insides of your bladder, in its full glory on the screen. That's if you want to watch, it's entirely up to you. Personally I found it fascinating. It was during what I thought would be a "routine" cystoscopy that my bladder tumour was identified.
The tests themselves, urine tests, cystoscopy's, TURBTs, MRI scans, etc. were luckily, not too troublesome or painful for me. However, what I did find increasingly difficult was awaiting the results of each of those tests and procedures. Each one became mentally more traumatic than the last. In fact it was at this time I began to suffer with anxiety.
The "waiting room"
It felt like my whole life was "on hold". Continually waiting for the next Doctors appointment, the next test or procedure, the next set of results. On obtaining the results it was then waiting for what the next course of treatment would be and so it went on, the waiting! The waiting to find out what was going to be done, could anything be done? The fear and anxiety that a cancer diagnosis brings became almost unbearable at times. My whole life from waking in a morning to finally falling asleep at night was consumed with fear and worry. Yet life still has to go on. My dogs still needed to be fed, bills still needed to be paid, laundry still needed doing, things still went on. But it didn't feel like it for me. I was caught up in a great big bubble called "cancer" and I found it difficult to think of anything else.
Finding a distraction
I needed to focus my attention and thoughts onto other things, but this was easier said than done. My concentration skills were virtually nonexistent. But I knew I had to do something, something that would help keep my mind from thinking only of cancer. So that's when I set about looking how I could fill my time with meaningful tasks that didn't take too much concentration or energy. Tasks that's I could pick up or put down whenever I felt like it. Money was tight as I had been off work for some time, so how could I keep busy and save money? That was my motivation. Doing something "useful" did make me feel better about myself. It did keep my mind off my cancer for some time and it did help to reduce my level of anxiety. Here are 3 of the things I did to help keep myself distracted.
- Search internet price comparison sites for cheaper energy/insurance/tv/internet etc.
- Sort out my wardrobe into 3 piles. Keep/charity/sell. Then advertise the "to sell items" onto local selling sites or the well known auction sites.
- Collect and redeem coupons from stores, magazines, newspapers, online codes etc.
It's about finding an activity that suits you. Whether it's knitting, painting, coloring or puzzle books. Just something that you can lose yourself in for short periods of time. A distraction gives you chance to "take a breath", to think of something else rather than just your illness. For me it helped keep my sanity whilst doing something worthwhile for the family.
Have you ever experienced caregiver burnout?