I was at my favorite paycheck donation center aka Target the other day and I was in the self-checkout line behind a mother and two children. One child was an infant and the other was 2 or 3 years old.
The child was sitting in the cart, the seat part, and he was talking to his mother, who was scanning items for checkout. As she scanned the items, she handed them to her son. But something was wrong, and he was trying to tell her something, but was not able to get it out. With her infant child strapped to her, she kept scanning her items and the young boy kept trying with all his might to vocalize what he was trying to say, getting all the more frustrated when he was not able to say what he wanted. He finally kicked his feet and threw up his hands and said very clearly, “Mommy you are not hearing me!”
I nearly cried. My eyes filled up with tears and I stared. I had to snap myself out of the eye lock that I made with the child. I was not staring because of the melt down that was now in process, but because, I could relate. How often in life are we in a place where we are trying to communicate how we feel, or what we think to someone and either they are not listening, or we are not able to clearly explain what it is that we are thinking and feeling?
I have been working with various doctors, for a number of different medical conditions, for numerous years. I have answered questions verbally about my symptoms, I have filled out written questionnaires, and I have drawn shapes on drawn figures of the human body to indicate where I had pain. All in attempt to convey to the doctor how I was feeling. And in each and every circumstance, there was still slight miscommunications between myself and the doctor, and cases where I wanted to yell “You are not hearing me!” as well, because well, they were not hearing me.
Recently, I sat down with one of my doctors and we had a very direct conversation. It was a hard conversation to have. I put on my big girl panties, and I pulled myself up by my bootstraps metaphorically, and I shot from the hip (again metaphorically). I identified what we had done up to this point over the last 3-5 years, and what worked and what had not worked. I explained what I found to be frustrating and what I found to be successful. (I felt like I was doing a job performance review). We discussed the challenges that we as partners faced and what the future held for us. We set a six-month goal and monthly goals leading up to the six-month goal.
When I left the office I nearly puked. I got in the car and my legs went weak. I had not been that assertive and confident in YEARS! That’s the way I had handled myself “back in the day”, in the days prior to the diagnosis, prior to the hysterectomy, prior to my world being up ended. And when I got good and mad, good and pissed off, good and ready to re-establish control, SHE came back.
I fear that I may have offended my doctor with my behavior, but gosh darn it, I may be in the best place I have been in a year, or more. And you know what, I did it. I advocated for myself. Instead of sitting there in a cart, belted in, kicking my feet and throwing my hands in the air yelling that someone was not hearing me, I sat with my horrible posture, in a 1950’s inspired dress, holding back the tears that really wanted to come, and acted like a business person with an agenda that included the success of my health.
I see her again in a month, and knowing me I will apologize, but I hope I won’t. I took charge and as result, I am living a simpler, overall improved life. I had a meeting today and it was observed that I am better. Although it was not said, I know that I am getting the sparkle back in my eye. I am still struggling with fatigue, but I am battling that like my life depends on it. I am being strategic with what I do during the day and allowing for the more challenging items to be completed when I am more awake, and the easier items to take place when I am not as with it.
Communicating is hard, as is life. It is easy to throw a tantrum, and we are all entitled to have one every now and again. But oh the way it feels to have a victory when you communicate, and your voice is heard… not so sure much compares to that kind of a success.