a man staring anxiously at a clock with his dog at his side

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you get one more yard
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part
- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Reluctantly becoming more patient

I’m not a patient person. Ask my wife. Ask my family. You should have seen me before cancer. Since my diagnosis, the past several years have forced me to reluctantly be more patient. Now I’m not just a patient, I’m also patient. There’s a lot of waiting involved in managing an incurable cancer. Just saying incurable cancer makes me anxious and impatient. Not that I’m eager for my numbers to take a turn for the worse or for my current regimen to stop working. But it feels inevitable. Hopefully, the inevitable is far away. Nonetheless, every month I do blood work. Every month I collect my urine over a 24-hour period. Every month, I anxiously await my lab results. I’ve got a great team of providers, so the nurse at my oncologist knows to email me my results as soon as they come in. The techs at the lab know I’m just dropping off blood and urine, so they make it a fast process for me.

I’ve got a whole team of different doctors, so occasionally, I do have to wait a bit longer than usual and when I do, I am immediately texting my wife letting her know and she reminds me to stay calm. As I write this, my dog is anxiously pacing waiting for her afternoon meal. She’s getting a little older and with it is becoming more pushy and antsy. Clearly, she takes after me. We don’t have kids, so she’s my baby. She slowed down her walks for me when I was first diagnosed and was sick and just couldn’t move very fast. She continues to keep me company when I have insomnia at 3 in the morning from my steroids and I move to the couch to watch tv. She’s getting older and slowing down, which makes me sad. But she’s healthy, still annoying, and still loving. I try not to think about her getting older.

Dealing with the worry of living with multiple myeloma

And it’s kind of like that with my own health. I try not to think too much about the inevitable. I certainly do all I need to do to stay as healthy as I can be. I try to stay educated on new treatments and have an idea what my next treatment might be, if or when my current regimen stops working. But I try not to dwell on what might happen. Instead I try to focus on how I feel now and what I can do currently. It’s not always an easy task. With my steroids, I get an emotional up and down. With the down, is when I start thinking about how bad a hand I’ve been dealt. When this happens, I remind myself to not listen to a tired mind. A social worker at my local hospital told us this shortly after I was diagnosed and it’s an invaluable thing to remember.

A few months ago, my back went out. It wasn’t directly related to my myeloma. Normally (i.e. pre cancer), I’d rest it for a couple of days and then I’d be back on my bike and back to working out. But I need to be more careful nowadays. I’ve been doing physical therapy. I’m building my core. I’m taking it slow. In other words, I’m being patient with my rehab. This has been a real test, having to slow things down has not been fun. But it’s been necessary and it’s been a reminder that I do have a new normal.

The waiting really is the hardest part.

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