There are so many different levels of emotions and thought patterns that you go through when you play the waiting game. Probably far too many to count.
At some point everyone has had to wait in agony for something whether it be for something trivial like a text message back from a guy or something more important like medical results or a text message back from that guy. We all know how it feels and you go through different interchanging emotions all the while riding that intense roller coaster.
Of course I am one of those people, seasoned in the game of ‘The Wait’ however I was of the experience of waiting FOR results. What I was not prepared for or privy to prior was the unbelievable, tormenting and twisty turvy world of receiving results and THEN having ‘The Wait’ for them to be analyzed.
I mean, seriously! I’m not sure I have been through many other instances where you experience so many things all within a short space of time. Some I glided through gracefully and others I am not ashamed to admit it that I collapsed into a huge messy, ugly heap.
I had no issue with waiting for the results of the test, I had a strong gut feeling what they would say and being the person I am, my thoughts were that until I HAD to know I wasn’t bothered. The right people had the test, were analyzing them and it was New Zealand summer too so waiting for them wasn’t the issue. Plus let’s be honest it is so blissful to be ignorant of the results and to get back to life at hand before things potentially turn your life upside down or at least shake it up a little.
I was prepared and understood that if the test came back not in my favour I could deal with it and I was quite right…however having that 3 week period of knowing the results and then not knowing entirely what they meant, what things would come next and what options I had or didn’t have was the definition of pure agony. I swear I may have needed to have been entered into an insane asylum during that period. Hence running off to Penang for the final week of ‘The Wait’.
I would not wish ‘The Wait’ on my worst enemy.
It’s crazy to think back now on this time as it really was the worst part of my journey so far. Even knowing what I know now at least I can move forward, research, contact people, find out more, listen to opinions….back then…I had nothing to go on.
So here goes a rough guide of me trying to explain how it felt during ‘The Wait’
Talking myself into calmness
I received the news, my results, on Sunday January 24th in the late evening. Too late to ring home (as they are 5 hours ahead), and not enough time to process before bed. I felt panic rise up and so I immediately started talking myself down:
‘Ok, I have the results, there is nothing I can do until I speak to a specialist’
‘I’m sure there are options’
‘I have no idea what this actually means so there is no point getting worked up until I know’
You know, the usual suspect questions.
Unfortunately the questions kept coming and the urge to Google took over. Before I put myself through something I may of regretted, I knew the best thing to do was to call a close friend. Luckily that friend answered.
I told her the news and that I was getting upset and knew I could call her to be ‘talked down’. Best. Call. Ever! (in both respects). Sometimes you know yourself really well but also sometimes you also know the right people to call. Mission accomplished with a few sentences and positive spins (ones I had already told myself, however hearing from someone else seemed to cement my thoughts), and I was off that slippery slope.
Switching off my emotions
Unfortunately the same can’t be done for my brain. I went about my usual bedtime routine (somewhat in a daze), went to bed, sleep came as normal, however sleep did not stay….my brain would not go to sleep and let the information it had just received rest. To this day I have not had one night where my brain has let things rest, no matter how tired I am, what I do to try to calm it and no amount of positive talk and calmness during the day has worked.
The crumbling heap
Lack of sleep, tossing and turning on a Sunday night, especially in my profession leads to a teacher who is not so fun, patient and kind. During the night I realized there is no way I could handle going in to work the next day with a lack of sleep, so many unknowns and not having talked to family about this.
#1 My kids didn’t deserve this
#2 Neither did my colleagues and
#3 Neither did I
I could not face the questions, comments and people jumping to conclusions about why I may or may not be so grumpy or reactive.
Cue one of the only days off I have ever had when not being sick. I have to admit while living in Hong Kong I had a day off, as I was ridiculously hungover from a night out with the New Zealand 10’s team (I am sure some of you remember that night and the stories that folllowed!). I also had a couple of days off leading up to when I was leaving to spend time with my then boyfriend who I was leaving behind and 1 in Beijing for when he visited (however that time I was slightly sick too, so that sort of doesn’t count). I’m a bit of a ‘goody good’ when it comes to pulling sickies or mental health days, however this decision was easy and thank god I did it.
To avoid the entire situation I cleaned the house, sorted out clothes, I think I may have even ironed (if you know me, that is a when pigs fly scenario!), and then finally I called home.
Yup….crumbling, messy, heap. My poor Dad was amazing…..getting landed with a call during the day from his daughter all the way over in China trying to hold it together and failing miserably, sniveling and unable to talk down the phone….he handled it like a champ. My Mum was slightly luckier to have my Dad warn her when she arrived home from work, however having already talked about it to my Dad did not help the cause as I had hoped and again I was a crumbling, teary mess. Again, Mum handled it like a champ.
Why is that you are totally fine and then when you speak to a parent you can no longer hold it together, no matter what you do? My parents have been incredible over this process and especially during ‘The Wait’. They called, listened, looked into things, offered advice, contacted people and just generally were there. I am beyond lucky to have such supportive people in my life and have no idea what I would do without them.
The Zombie or The Robot
After a day spent at home collecting myself, talking to family and a few friends and to be honest a bit of googling, I started preparing myself for the upcoming days of going in to work. In short I turned into, I am not sure if you would call it a Zombie or a Robot…after reading this, you decide.
It was all about getting through the day in the most ‘normal’ way possible. I did not want to draw attention to myself, I wanted to appear normal to others and in doing so I felt like every move, laugh, sentence, interaction and reaction was over exaggerated. I felt like a shell of myself with the inner mantra of ‘just get through the day, just get through the day’ on repeat internally, all the while smiling at the person or small child talking to me.
As I mentioned in a previous post if people asked me how I was or if they somehow saw through the facade I would give them my robot answer ‘But it’s ok…I’m not dying or anything’. In reality, every time I encountered someone all I was thinking was ‘Please don’t ask how I am, please don’t ask how I am’.
Over the next 3 weeks I flip flopped between feeling this way, being eerily calm and frustrated as hell. I flip flopped so many times I could not keep up…back and forth, back and forth, back and forth….feeling stomach sick the entire time.
Eerily the Zombie or Robot phase helped me to bring a whole calmness to the situation. With inner mantras of positivity on repeat and armed with my new catch phrase I was gliding along with a cloud of calmness in my wake. I am generally a positive person so I knew there really was absolutely nothing I could do about the situation until I talked to a specialist, so what was the point in telling more people than I had too, why would I want to worry them? And what was the point of being upset over something I didn’t really know about yet. I was able to function really well this way. I could interact, I could smile, laugh, socialise, talk about the upcoming holidays….I could function like a ‘normal’ person. That was until frustration kicked in.
If you know me well, you will know that as well as being positive and generally a happy person, I can also be quite fiery and stubborn – thanks parents for those traits! Being overseas, away from my home country has been one of the main sources of frustration as it creates a whole lot of problems. Nothing too major but things that can really, really frustrate the hell out of someone. Unfortunately only being back in New Zealand in summer really throws everything off.
New Zealand is an amazing place and I am incredibly one eyed about it, however everything shuts down at Christmas time and in the New Year so nothing can get done in a timely manner and everyone is away on (a definitely deserved), holiday. I guess you could totally call it ‘Island Time’.
This meant that the specialist recommended to me was away on holiday. I totally got that and was ok about that. I was happy to wait patiently. Then there were copious amounts of emails back and forth to the receptionist of the clinic to arrange times and days he would look at the results. Then there were clinic days and operation days and then all of a sudden the specialist was overseas again. Next, he would be back and get back to me on certain dates and then finally it was me having to give dates and times and then it was ‘he will get back to you on that’.
I get it, I live overseas and it isn’t quite the norm to do a Skype call but seriously……my patience was wearing quite thin!!! Don’t get me wrong, I tried to remain very, very calm however all the positive inner talk about knowing I could not control the situation did not help AT all.
Finally one glorious day while lounging poolside basking in the hot sun of Penang I received an email confirming some days. Turns out I was flying on those days so had to send a few emails back to ensure I would be available and have access to the internet and adequate time. I finally had locked in a day and a very open period of time (anytime after 2pm). You also have to remember that we were working in New Zealand time and China time so that means it would be anytime after 9am my time.
People….we had finally locked in a day!
Living in China has its perks and draw backs and unfortunately one of those is it’s entry and exit into the country (AKA the airport) and its internet issues. My plane arrived back on time just after midnight, unfortunately due to the madness of Chinese New Year, limited people servicing the foreigners cue and a horrendous taxi line I was not home and in bed until 4am. With a wake up call of 8.30am….that ain’t going to pretty. All I could picture was an over emotional sleep deprived reaction to everything he was going to tell me. Thank god the reality was nothing like that. Somehow I managed to hold it together.
The next anxiety moment was if my VPN would work, if the Skype connection would be ok and if we could even connect. Sunday tends to be a particularly bad day in Beijing, I am guessing it has something to do with people being in contact with their home country and Sunday being a heavy internet traffic day, however I could be wrong. There were a few issues but luckily after a few blips, calls back and a switch to VPN I was able to sustain a good enough connection to get all the necessary information.
Relief / Null and void
The Skype call has happened, I now have information, I can now move forward, I can now…….never have my brain shut off with the million options, questions, paths, combustions, what ifs and decisions that will influence decisions, immediate and future plans and all else that has come next.
All that matters is that thankfully ‘The Wait’ is finally over – Null. And. Void.