The Proverbial Waiting Room

Beth Brophy Health Guide
  • It was all so familiar last week: the feeling of dread in my stomach, my inability to concentrate, the confusing mixture of hyperalertness and lethargy. I couldn’t decide whether it was better to run around the block 10 times or bury my head under the covers, so I just stared into space and felt miserable.

    I was spending the entire day engaged in one of my least favorite activities: waiting, waiting for news that could be good or bad. This state of limbo brought me back to the horrible past, when I would spend days and weeks in this suspended state, waiting for the results of biopsies and CAT scans and medical tests that would determine whether I was going to live or die.
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    The stakes last week were nowhere near as high. Nobody’s life was at risk. I was simply waiting to hear whether my daughter had been admitted early decision to the college of her choice. (Let me end the suspense right here: She was deferred.) Yet, the waiting, when time seemed to be crawling along in slow motion, brought out the worst in me. I was grouchy, snappish and sad. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was even impatient with my daughter, who was suffering from her own waiting-induced anxiety/misery. After all, it is her future we were waiting to hear about, not mine.

    Even though my brain knows that the waiting-to-hear-from-a-college kind of waiting is preschool compared to the biopsy -CAT scan-surgery kind of waiting, I was depressed for days. In fact, I still can’t shake it. Those feelings of helplessness and lack of control, once they surface, are hard to stuff back into the closet. And sure, those feelings are mixed with some disappointment. I was hoping my daughter would get into that particular school. And now my daughter and the rest of the family, as we watch her struggle and try to help her, are in the midst of application hell, instead of relaxing and enjoying the holidays. Our house is filled with anxiety and stress, not holiday cheer and good will.

    The good news is that all the applications are due Jan. 1.

    So, happy holidays to everyone else! Now we’re on to the other college applications.

Published On: December 22, 2005