Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Must remember to keep waiting

In this ordered society, you have areas for waiting. You have receptions with pleasant faces and practised phone voices; lobbies with comfortable chairs and air conditioning; a seat or a bench outside the headmaster’s office; actual waiting rooms where you flick through outdated magazines before seeing the doctor or dentist.

I like this form of waiting. The setting of a holding area, and then the crossing of a threshold, and the meeting or appointment plays out.

But what if you are all the time waiting? While you’re eating, while you’re shopping, while you’re sleeping, while you’re carefully painting your toenails. Is that waiting at all? There is no specific activity to it, no area in which it is confined or where it happens. In such circumstances, it’s easy to forget.

I compare it to being stood at a bus stop for a long time; minutes turn to hours and you stop looking up the road, in the direction from which the bus should be coming, and you get distracted. You start looking around, and you get caught up in the life around you.

You are only jolted back to remembering when you try to move too far away from where you are stood, and you realise you are chained to the bus stop, bound to this need to wait.

At night, the fear comes to me. I think about getting the call, and my heart starts pounding. The magnitude of it overwhelms me. Some night, I will have to get up and organise my thoughts and carry myself to the hospital, and phone my mother in short, ill-controlled breaths to tell her it’s happening, and then sign my life into the hands of a surgeon and undergo a major surgery. Just like that.

I’m sure I have written before about the devil I know in the form of dialysis often seeming to me like a sanctuary. I know the deal here. It’s not a great scene, but I’m managing. When they plant a foreign organ in me, there’s no knowing how my body will react.

It’ll be a matter of luck, whether my immune system will treat my new kidney as a burglar in the dark, or whether it will regard it as I regard another girl on the other side of the street if I’m walking home at night – a stranger, but a welcome, comforting presence, a support if anything were to happen.

After nearly two years of waiting, I feel totally unprepared. I wonder if I should put some elbow grease to this now, if I should start setting aside some period of each day…for a mood of expectation. To translate waiting into action, maybe you wish or hope or conjure images.

Perhaps if I put an uncomfortable chair in my hallway – that might be the place for it.


  1. Regina, Samuel Johnson quoted Dryden as saying that marriage is a noble daring, Peter Pan said that dying would be a big adventure. Any major change is a wrench. Meanwhile waiting for a bus that runs on no schedule, that could come by tonight or come by in two years is a pain. But taking a few minutes a day to think of the good and bad things that could result from a big change will for me make any outcome easier to deal with when it comes. Of course your mileage may vary.
    Tonight for the first time since the beginning of February I am back on PD. Oh Fabjous Day, to be back where I started from six months ago!
    Pleasant Imaginings,
    J Harper
    Regina SK

  2. J Harper - Delighted to hear you are back on the lesser of the dialysis evils! That must mean your doctors are happier with how you are? Great news!
    I plan to have that Peter Pan quote on my gravestone if I expire at a relatively young age. "To die would be an awfully big adventure". Brilliant book, nice thought.

  3. We're all waiting in some way. As my Dad used to say, "Never let time down".

  4. I read this last night and then thought the above comment was a bit insensitive and stupid.

    But you know what? It's true. Very true. And it's a hell of a lot tougher waiting for something you know deep down is never going to happen. You still wait and wait, no matter how hard you try not to.

    Anon E Moose

  5. Oops. That could have been misconstrued, I didn't mean *you* and your situation!

    Anon E. Moose

  6. Holemaster - There are degrees of waiting. Some are more trying than others.

    Anon E Moose - I have plenty of experience of various forms of waiting, thus I know how unpleasant and trying it can be. It's hard to live in the present when you're always waiting for your future. A state of suspension is best avoided if possible. It wrecks your head.

  7. It's a heavy wait and weight - I remember thinking I have to wait for a mother's heart to break so that mine can beat freely again. After that I stopped thinking - it hurt my brain and heart too much. Boy Wonder of course didn't realize he was waiting - he was too busy living. That was his gift and my lesson - but I was too old to learn it. I don't think it's a lesson possible to learn after a certain age. Your description of the wait is really helping me analyze mine. Thank you.

  8. AnnB - I'm glad my description helped. I truly do forget most of the time that I am waiting for anything now. In my first year on the list, I fixated on time and its passing, and I got hung up on wondering how many christmases would I watch come and go while still on dialysis. I'm over that now. Taking a leaf out of your Boy Wonder's book. But like I said above, my worry with this attitude is that the call will come, and I will be knocked for six at the enormity of it.

  9. I'd be so lovely to have a dedicated time-slot for worries and confine them strictly like that. You could have a whole half hour to just sit there and fidget, then the rest of the day you could concentrate on life and not have to bite your nails (or your toenails depending on how flexible you are).