Tuesdays at the Chemo Unit, Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Today I began my “waiting project” with great earnestness. But perhaps I was trying too hard . I was antsy and fidgety. There also seemed to be more traffic crossing in front of me and I felt self-conscious  sitting there cross-legged on the floor with my shoes off.

A person without purpose is suspect. I even read in one blog about “those people who “just sit there” while they are waiting”. I decided to hold my notebook and pen as a “cover”. Not everyone can understand the enlightenment of waiting.

One nurse worried over me, believing that I had not been able to find a chair. Some people smiled, others just stared. One woman looked quite pointedly at my abandoned shoes as she walked by.

So the magic wasn’t there today in the waiting area. However my blood pressure was still low and I lucked out for my treatment. Today my nurse was Manny, one of the nurses about whom I have waxed eloquent before.

One of the best parts of getting Manny is that we talk about food the whole time. I asked him what he was cooking and he described the incredible shiitake/leek risotto that he made the other night. He gave me all the details (4 cups raw risotto to one box of chicken stock – he uses Campbells). He gave me some directions:

“you have to stir it for 20 minutes… not just stir, you have to be with it, you have to  love it”.

He told me about the incredible fish he ate while on vacation in Hawaii. We drooled together over the picture on his phone of the thinly sliced sashimi that he had at one of the fanciest restaurants in Maui.

Before I knew it, the treatment was over and I felt as if I had been visiting with an old friend. I came away happy and hungry. A good day.



Day-after-Tuesdays-at-the-chemo-unit: The Art of Waiting





Well, I think it’s time for me to discontinue Tuesdays at the chemo unit. I have had an epiphany! No longer will I spend my time at the chemo unit hunched over a keyboard, squinting at my phone or buried in a book. I have discovered the art of waiting!

Yesterday I decided that I would bring nothing with me – that is no book, no computer, no work, I even erased Scrabble off my  phone. All I allowed myself was a pen and notebook, so I could record any writing ideas I had. I found a quiet corner to nest in and I actively waited. I didn’t fall asleep this time, I simply waited. I looked around me, I relaxed, I listened in on conversations, I thought about my writing, sometimes I didn’t think about anything.  I just waited. And I discovered that in my very busy day, it was a treat to have a time carved out when I didn’t have to do anything, be anywhere or answer to anybody. I could just have a  private and quiet time. The bonus, by the way, was, again, an extremely good blood pressure reading.

I was actually a little sad when the buzzer surprised me out of my meditative mood to tell my it was my turn. Rather than be happy that I was called,  I felt reluctant to enter the world again and shoulder my responsibilities. I wanted to stay in that mellow space

I feel like I’ve discovered a big secret. Why did it take me 12 years to learn this?!! I want to tell everyone – their path to happiness in the waiting room is to…well… wait. I have seen the light!  We could all become waiting junkies. Eager to stay in waiting rooms the longest, courteous about letting others go before us. We might never want to go home or go back to work. “Please doctor, take your time with the patient before me – I would just like a little more waiting time”. Just imagine what a nice place the waiting room would be.

So next time you are stuck in the slowest line at the grocery store, look at it as an opportunity to wait and just see how good you feel.




Tuesdays from the chemo unit, Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There’s a reason I didn’t post yesterday from the chemo unit. After my article last week I decided to try an experiment. I decided that I would try to do nothing while I waited. Or, rather, I decided I would try to actively wait instead of just filling time until my appointment. It was a double trial because I had a clinic appointment before my chemo.

So I bet you are all wondering how I did. I bet you’re wondering if I could last without reading, writing or playing computer scrabble. Well, to you naysayers, I tell you that the first appointment went just fine. I started off by sitting and watching the world go by. I used the time to do some planning in my head for my writing. Planning is my default state when I’m not occupied elsewhere. After a bit, however, I tried to let even that go.

After about 15 minutes, I started to drift and then fell asleep. Sleeping was an excellent way to make the time pass quickly, but it felt like cheat. Besides, it’s not comfortable to sleep in the waiting room chairs. After my sleep I began to get antsy and was tempted to just quickly check my email or check the weather. But I resisted and actually found that I became quite relaxed. So relaxed that when my blood pressure was taken in my appointment, it was nice and low.

Hmmm. So by not doing anything or by actively deciding to make waiting my occupation, I became more relaxed.

I did give in when I went up to the chemo waiting room. “I’m sure I’ve got important emails to answer!” I thought to myself. “I’ll just check them and then begin my “wait” again. This time, however, I was taken in so quickly that there was no time. Next week I shall set myself the challenge to make it through the entire visit without a distraction. How long can you wait?

Cheers until next time.