The Waiting Room

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In life there are a select few experiences that are common to all humans regardless of age, race, nationality, religion, etc., and one of those is The Waiting Room. This room may look different for each person, and in fact may not even be a physical place, but simply a state of flux one exists in as he or she waits for some kind of verdict.

The Waiting may be for news of a baby, a job, an acceptance letter, or what we commonly wait in an actual room for…a treatment or a diagnosis. Regardless, the minutes, days or weeks that tick by can feel agonizing as our hearts fill with fear or anticipation.

I have become all too acquainted with waiting rooms over the last few years. In fact, my oldest son gets allergy shots and we have made a weekly visit to the pediatrician’s office for the last 6 months. The whole experience from beginning to end usually takes an hour. Taking two energetic boys to the doctor’s office on a Friday afternoon every single week has the potential to be a problem. However, after reading the book Hands Free Mama, I have come to view that time as an opportunity to focus fully on my boys.

Now, I could easily let them entertain themselves by bringing their Nintendo devices and letting them have at it, but I now view this hour as a time to engage with them. We read books, do puzzles, play cards, or play games together on my iPad. There isn’t anything else to distract me like there is at home. This time has become a sweet time for me talking and playing with my guys.

I felt humbled by my waiting room experience with my mama this past Tuesday. Her four hours of waiting time were spent with me escorting one person after the next back to visit with her before her surgery. I sat surrounded by friends and family. I didn’t even have time to read the books I had brought with me.

The love, care and concern of others overshadowed my dread of my time in The Waiting Room. It wasn’t until the nurse came out to let us know the time had come to meet with the doctor that my belly did a little jump. Suddenly, the thought of sitting in that room and hearing he had found more cancer felt overwhelming. My uncle went back with me, and this time we had the blessing of good news. All had gone well and no more cancer presented itself.

The Waiting Room is a time of refinement. We can allow that time to build fear and frustration, or to build connection and peace. Which do you find that you choose? Do you create an island for yourself, or do you reach out to others for help and support? Do you fear you will bother them with your need? Do you strive to turn your concerns over to God?

It is in The Waiting Room that I begin to understand the power of prayer better. I struggle with prayer and how it works, knowing my prayers aren’t always answered the way I would like them to be. However, when one of the nurses came in and said she and her husband had prayed for my mom on the way into work, we felt comforted. As each person stood by her bed and said humble prayers, I felt a hedge of protection. I didn’t know with any kind of certainty that my mom would be okay, but I knew, regardless, we would be able to cope.

I don’t know what waiting room you are in right now, but I do hope you will make the best of it. Grow your faith, not your fear. Rely on others to help you through. Be even more grateful for the things you do have, not the things you don’t.

“But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” Isaiah 40:31 (AMP)

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Create Your Joy

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Can I just say that October has to be the worst possible month for any woman to be diagnosed with breast cancer. As we have waited for test results and as we are even now waiting on the specific action plan for my mom, we have been constantly reminded of her condition. From the pink lights in the Kroger checkout lanes to the multiple advertisements on Facebook, and even watching NFL players sporting pink from their helmets to their shoes, there has been no escape.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am abundantly glad people are raising money and that with every penny we are one step closer to a cure. However, in a time of great uncertainty it is most distressing to rarely be able to escape our current reality. My method of coping is usually to pretend the bad thing isn’t happening until I can’t ignore it any longer. This month I do not have that luxury.

So, what do you do when life is hard and scary? You think outside of the box. You stretch yourself a bit. You abandon some of the norms.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but when Jason was diagnosed with cancer we went to a local state park and had a food fight. Let me tell you, the spaghetti, strawberry syrup, oatmeal and the rest were quite the mess, but oh what a memory it made! My favorite part was walking down to the falls to rinse off with people thinking the strawberry syrup on my youngest was blood. You should have seen the stares!

So, we decided to get away with my mom for a few days before her impending surgery. We made our way down to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I think I’ve laughed more, and harder, than I have in a long time. This was my favorite moment:

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We bought my sons go-cart rides, but Austin wasn’t tall enough so he had to ride with someone. The bracelet allowed for three rides. He went with his daddy, then with me and decided that was enough for the day. Somehow, by some alignment of the planets, Jason talked my mom into riding with him the last time. I just wish you all could have seen it. Talk about joy! My mom’s hair was sticking nearly straight up when she got out of that car. I think she screamed the whole way.

Unfortunately, we can’t always go away on vacation when life gets messy. Right now I’d give anything to live in a perpetual state of vacation. We can still find opportunities for laughter and fun, though, even without any cost. I’ve found doing nice things for others makes me feel better when I’m sad. Witnessing others’ joy brings a certain satisfaction.

I find it ironic that my mom bought this shirt for my oldest just about a week before her diagnosis:

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Joshua was so excited about it, telling us all about how a donation was made to breast cancer research when you bought the shirt. Who knew how appropriate it would be? But the saying is true. Never give up on finding the joy in the mess. It’s always available, it just might take a little ingenuity.

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Don’t Just Get Angry, Do Something

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ARRRGGGH! Like Charlie Brown who repeatedly finds himself on his back as Lucy pulls away the football, I felt enormous frustration. Charlie at least has the option of not trying to kick anymore. I, however, am stuck at the mercy of the healthcare system.

I will spare you all of the details, but this week I had a heated conversation with someone in my health insurance office because I was told a completely different story than the first time I tried to solve the problem, ending in me having to pay more money for a particular service.

So, let’s look at the big picture. This wasn’t my first time down this road. When my dad was ill, my mom and I faced multiple dilemmas that left us feeling helpless and confused. One time, they rescheduled one of my dad’s surgeries without my mom’s knowledge. She showed up at the hospital to find him already being operated on. They said they tried to call her, and when they couldn’t reach her they tried to contact his brother. My dad doesn’t have a brother. I still wonder what in the world occurred that day.

My sweet mama has already faced a couple of hiccups regarding her care for her recent breast cancer diagnosis. She handled the diagnosis like a champ. It’s been the ensuing miscommunication related dilemmas that have brought her to tears. This was all fresh in my mind as I spoke to my own insurance company and only furthered my irritation.

Friends, health crises are hard enough, but then when you add in all of the extra phone calls, red tape, paperwork, lack of information, and the like, it can be downright maddening. I’m sure many of you have experienced this, too.

We must support one another, and rally around each other.

One of my co-workers, Mindy Flick, is in the throes of this exact situation. Her husband is in need of a kidney transplant. While awaiting the kidney, he was laid off from his job, and forced to go on Medicare which only covers 80% of the surgery. He is now caught in a frustrating loophole that requires him to raise $60,000 for the other 20%.

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This sweet lady shows up with a bright smile every day. I know her burdens are great, but she continues to love those around her well.

Please read more about their story on their blog here, but in the meantime here are some ways you could help right now:

  • Pampered Chef – Kassi Shelton, party open until Oct. 12. Place orders here: http://www.pamperedchef.com/pws/kassi/guest-landing/8886060170395
  • Online Auction – Melissa Bower (melissajbower@yahoo.com), collecting giftable items and services to sell in an online auction.  So far handmade baby items, a quilt, babysitting services, etc have been donated. The auction could really use more items.   Items like baked goods, handmade items, Thirty-One, Pampered Chef, babysitting services, leaf raking services, gift cards, sports/events tickets – sky is the limit!  Contact Melissa to donate by Oct. 11.  Auction will be held Oct. 18-19, just in time to get started with holiday shopping!  Check out the auction here:  https://www.facebook.com/FlickAuction
  • Bloomington – ECC trivia night – October 25, 7pm – come out for a fun family night to show off your trivia skills and knowledge!  Contact Meredith Lulich for tickets at mere.mccoy@gmail.com
  • Consider donating to their GoFund Me site: http://www.gofundme.com/flickneedsakidney

It is through the power of sharing that we can eradicate some of the trauma in the world. I am always humbled by the power of the “share” button. As a blog writer, whenever even one person shares one of my posts, my readership can double. Do not underestimate the power of your influence. Those who love you will show interest in the things you are interested in, too.

Yesterday,as I was waiting on my mom to come out of a store, I stood and watched a butterfly resting on the sidewalk. With this particular butterfly, what I noticed was that its true beauty was visible when its wings were extended. When we reach out to others for help, or reach out to those in need, that is when the beauty of humanity and the grace of God is evident.

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Please share the Flicks’ story with your friends. Let’s help this precious family, and turn our frustration with the system into something life saving!

A closing note: I truly am appreciative of those who work in the healthcare profession. I believe it is the system that is the problem, not the people. We have been rescued many times by caring professionals who have helped show us the way. We are privileged to have access to the care that we do. Let’s not forget that!

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