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Finding Balance

Thursday, July 11, 2013

By Christy Sillman

I know I’m not the only one who experiences some pre-appointment anxiety. Living with CHD involves periods of normalcy followed by extreme upheaval, and we never know when that upheaval will come. We’re constantly waiting for the “other shoe to drop” and regular cardiology appointments are often where those shoes fall off. So, it’s no wonder that the days leading up to our appointments can be a little stressful.

I’m three days away from my annual appointment—in fact, the day this blog is scheduled to be posted is my appointment day, so will you say a little prayer or send me a kind thought right now please? Thank you.

This time around I’ve decided to try something different. In the past I’ve brought my parents, my loving husband, or my toddler son. I mistakenly brought my son along two years ago—nothing says anxiety like your child having a Mach 5 tantrum at your cardiology appointment.

Last year when my husband couldn’t get the day off from work I brought my best friend Lauren who was visiting from out of town. It was one of the best appointments I’ve ever had because she’s a very intelligent person, takes fabulous notes, asks great questions, and holds a fantastic debriefing afterwards with me—I’ve dubbed her my “good luck charm” after my doctor high-fived me for my great progress report at that appointment.

This year I’m keeping my good luck charm Lauren (that's her in the middle of the photo to the right) and raising the ante with my other best friend Sarah (the three of us have been besties for more than 15 years). We’re making a day of it. We hired babysitters for our kids. We’re picking out the playlist for the 1.5 hour road trip. After my appointment we’re planning lunch and shopping in “the city” (aka San Francisco). I even found a restaurant that is 100% gluten-free like me, and my girls are happy to indulge me.

For the first time in a long time, I’m actually excited about my cardiology appointment. Not only is it an excuse to spend time with my soul sisters, it’s also a chance for Sarah, who has historically had a hard time with my heart stuff, to see what it’s all about.

Of course, I’m still anxious. I don’t think there’s any way around that. I’m also worried that “bad news” will spoil the rest of the day, but when I’m feeling crummy these are the girls I turn to. I’m setting myself up for support, whether we’re celebrating or crying.

I’ve talked to other adults with CHD about how we balance out the fears and “bad stuff” with treating ourselves. Some buy something special, others treat themselves to something yummy, and some choose someone special to share the experience with. How do you find balance and treat yourself on appointment, procedure, or surgery days?


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