How to Win at the Waiting Game

We've all been there. Whether it's a hospital waiting room, clinic, jury duty, traffic jam or the simple task of waiting for your gums to get numb so you can get drilled... waiting is a pain in the old patootie. The amazing part is that we usually get through it, but friends there are some among us who need help. A lot of help.

This is on my mind because I recently spent six hours waiting next to a bed which was filled with Mr. S in an emergency room. Not to worry, he's just fine. His heart likes to show off by doing the Watusi... or some other dance when he sees a white coat. Usually this is not a big deal but somehow it became one during a regular check up. Two EKG s later we were allowed to leave. We thought everything was just ducky. We usually take this approach to any sort of bad stuff. It’s just easier. That was on Tuesday.

HOWEVER, a couple of VA medical professionals went on record saying that Mr. S was about to join the Bikers in the Sky chapter unless we returned to ER in Portland on Thursday. His reply was, "Nope."

Saturday we made the jaunt to Portland and the big hospital. This only happened because I wore out all my begging, pleading, rational thought reasoning and “leaving your grandchildren” threats. Oh, and I drove.

A couple of things come to mind here. God bless them but MEN are painfully slow to make a decisions regarding health care. During this time, women use all their best verbal skills to convince their loved ones to get in the damned car and go. Of course, not all our techniques work. We wait by pacing, cooking, caffeine, adult beverages and finally... the trump card... "What will I do without you?"

If you think these will work... you're deluded. Men chart their own course using the serpentine method. This means they stay one step away from having to answer your questions.

Now, back to waiting. I waited from Thursday until Saturday. All I wanted was to get Mr. S in the car for his trip to the emergency room. Most people do this in an ambulance... not us. We like to blaze new trails for senior citizens in patient rights.

Anyway, while waiting for his decision, I was cheerful and semi non-judgmental, logical but not too focused on health care. My tactics changed during the final assault. I went from begging to silence. I left it to him to decide the day and time we would go to the emergency room. When our departure seemed iffy I advised him that he wouldn't want to get in the cross-hairs of the Veterans Administration. (I have no scruples).

Ah, yes, we arrived at 11:30am on Saturday. Between that time and 5:30pm we practiced many of the other arts of waiting. Unless Mr. S is in surgery, he never waits alone. I am always there to bug him as much as I possibly can. My belief is that this lessens the stress of waiting for both of us. I take breaks to walk and bring healthy snacks and water. I encourage him to ask for help because I have learned that men don’t always ask when they should.

In the meantime I do the Elephant Rock. For me this is better than all other ways to wait. I have spent waiting time reading books, walking the halls, writing letters to friends and taking breaks for meals and coffee. I have prayed. I have tried every way I can to smooth the pathway of waiting but nothing relieves me like the Elephant Rock.

Like many of you, I have a spine which can't decide to stand or sit in order to be comfortable. Truth is that there is no good answer here. One time while I was waiting for Mr. S to come out of surgery after many hours, I watched a news program which showed an elephant and her baby. While the baby stumbled and frolicked around their enclosure, the mama rocked. She stood solid on all four of her legs and gently moved her body back and forth. Her eyelashes masked her eyes... she was the picture of serenity.

I started doing the Elephant Rock that evening and have done it ever since. It is a thing I can do to keep focused on something other than the pain of waiting... both physical and mental. I'm sharing this with you so you can use the Elephant Rock whenever you may need it. Sometimes I do it at home when I'm waiting to figure out why I'm in a certain room... or working out a problem. Sometimes I do it just so I can be at peace like my elephant friends.

Oh, and Mr. S is just as ornery as ever. His medical opinion is that he's given his heart everything it wants and so it has no reason to attack him. Help.

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