Medical Appointments and Post-Depression -a few thoughts

For those of us who deal with various chronic illnesses, regular medical appointments become routine. For example, for 26 years now, I average spending somewhere around 10-20 days a year at the hospital (the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center) to have various tests and see various doctors. This amounts to a sizable amount of time. And they do say that M.D. Anderson means Most of the Day – which is true!

For years and years I found that I left these appointments depressed for a few days – especially when we had to be there from 7 or 8 am to sometime late in the afternoon or early evening! These appointments remind me in a very direct and scary way that I shouldn’t be alive. Our modern medicine and professional medical system have saved me again and again – through brain surgery, heart/lung/diaphragm surgery, pelvis surgery, etc. etc.

Its also stressful having various tests when you know they will show continued and new abnormalities.

In sum, seeing the doctor–when you see the doctor all the time for series medical problems–is stressful. And it is also stressful seeing so many people everywhere who are also very ill and very stressed

By accident, I found one solution that worked real well last time. We had a gap of about three hours between appointments. Instead of having a long lunch in the cafeteria (they do have delicious food!), going to various gift shops, and waiting around, we left! We had lunch at a fancy restaurant down the road and then came back. Paying parking twice wasn’t a bad price to pay!

Short, quick appointments that don’t involve a lot of waiting are ideal – but waiting is part of getting quality medical care. So when we can’t just leave for a while, I will continue getting distracted with something on my iPad or laptop, which has worked in the past. Reading doesn’t seem to work so much because of all the distractions. But also such depression seems to be a somewhat unavoidable reality. 

Do you have any suggestions to avoid medical-appointment-depression?

Andrew Joseph Pegoda