― Chuck Palahniuk, Choke
There is nothing worse than the "in between times." Every chronically ill patient knows that. The time in between each appointment when the pain or discomfort is so bad but you know the specialist doc can't see you. The time between getting your blood drawn and waiting, and waiting for the results. The time between having the biopsy/MRI/CT/Echo/EKG/X-ray and waiting, and waiting for that dreaded call.
As a patient, you learn the art of waiting. Waiting in the waiting room before an appointment. Waiting in line at the pharmacy for your meds. Waiting on the phone for the insurance agent or representative to fight ANOTHER claim. Waiting in the hospital room for the nurse and then the doctor. Right now, I am waiting to find out if/how my finger ulcer is healing.
But the worst, the worst in between wait time for me exists in those moments after the doctor has told you something awful or less than optimistic about your condition and you know that you cannot break down in tears until you get to your car. You may shed a tear or two but know that "now isn't the time." The nurse or doc may be compassionate enough to hand you a tissue and place a hand on your shoulder, but you all know there isn't time for much more. So you suffer those agonizing moments where you fake a smile and tell the doc thank you as he leaves the room. You then collect your pride and your belongings and head to the front desk where you pay and schedule a follow up appointment, smile again at the receptionist and swallow the knot in your throat. Then, as you head down the hall, avoiding your reflection in glass doors and windows, you think to yourself "not now, not now." And you hold it in a little longer as you head down the elevator avoiding eye contact with everyone but small children. You pay for parking begrudgingly as you realize how much money you've spent just to hear such terrible news and that is where it slowly begins.
The tears well up in your eyes and you cannot contain it any longer. The lump in your esophagus threatens to choke you. You clench your jaw and try to relax. You get in your car and you finally give yourself permission to fall apart.
It's not a few pretty tears of lamentation, if you've held it in it's because you are expecting an "ugly cry." A beat the steering wheel, talking to yourself, FML "where's Adele when you need her" cry.
And you do just that. You let the tears fall for yourself, for your aching body and for what is yet to come, but even this doesn't last as long as it should because you've already paid for parking and you only have "15 minutes to exit the building." So you collect yourself, turn the car on, take a brief look in the rearview mirror at yourself and what lies behind you and drive to your next destination, tired and confused, but ready to move on.