My profession as a pastor allows me to celebrate with and be a source of support to members of my church. They come to me seeking a message of hope in the worst of circumstances. And the need for peace is greater when one faces surgery. When asked, I sit with parishioners in waiting rooms reminding them that hope is alive and well. I listen to find out if they want company without the need for conversation or if they prefer to talk. It is my job to be present and figure out the needs of those who are anxious about their loved ones.
As I assist others, I draw from my experience of waiting in hospital rooms eager to hear that my loved one is safe and in recovery. My first son had one port-a-cath with no problems. After about five years, we decided to remove his port to prevent complications. His only other surgery was an operation to remove his gallbladder. My eldest son has had a total of three surgeries.
My other son is the opposite. “MacDonald the Younger” will have his seventh port removed soon. He had to have ports replaced because of complications due to the size of his veins and a very high inhibitor titer. He had 13 surgeries before his 10th birthday.
I wish I could say that waiting for my children to get out of surgery became easier with time, but it was not the case. I still feel anxious waiting for the doctor to come out and say all is well. My mind goes places that it should not go. I tell people that my mind is a dangerous neighborhood and I should not go in there by myself. So, I distract myself from the “what can happen” scenarios.
Here is my issue: I can’t stand talking to people other than my wife during stressful times. I need to be distracted, but not by other people. When someone speaks to me, I feel obliged to engage with them. I realize that I have a hybrid personality, with both extrovert and introvert traits. Over the years, I’ve learned to accept my way of handling a crisis or tough situation.
Understanding myself has made me a better caregiver when helping others who are facing situations such as surgical procedures. I give them space and appreciate their journeys. One person’s way of managing highly stressful situations is not the same as another’s. I’ve learned intentional listening is crucial when providing support to others. I draw on my own experiences to be present when others are facing loss or surgery because I know what it is like to wait to hear good news.
One of the most important life lessons I’ve learned is that all of us handle stress differently. A hospital waiting room is one of the most stressful places to be, and you try to manage painful emotions while waiting for positive results. Each of us has our own way of practicing self-care. We all have diverse needs, and we should be kind to ourselves and embrace our unique approaches to life.
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.