By Pat Larsen
For Capital Region Independent Media
Recalling days gone by, when we lived in Brooklyn, it was actually quite common to hear the ring of the doorbell on a weekend.
Aunts or uncles would come by after church to visit my grandmother, the matriarch of the family, arms laden with scrumptious bakery goods and a broad smile on their faces.
They were always welcome because their visit marked a few hours of laughter and great conversation, sitting around the table. Good times, always. Even though there had been no formal invitation to announce the visit.
No, unfortunately, I’m not writing about not that kind of unexpected visitor. I’m focused at the moment on an unexpected illness paying me a visit and how that kind of situation is not quite welcome.
I’m sorry to have dragged you into the column with that kind of hook. But in truth, as we get older, we have to face some unexpected medical situations that will require us to take note whether we like it or not, just like the unexpected visitor of a sort from years ago.
I managed then… and in truth, that gave me the tools to actually figure out the steps that it would take to manage now.
One such situation presented itself recently. As frustrating as it was, it left me no choice but to welcome it in with all its raw edges and unplanned symptoms to figure out what to do next.
The result is still to be determined. However, it’s those very “steps” that are innate within each of us that helped so much to know just how to remain calm and focused to figure out which seat to give this “unwelcome visitor” at the table.
I realized that I had to focus first and foremost on acceptance of my circumstances. I allowed myself to have all the “feels.”
Frustration, Resistance, Ignoring what was going on. Worry, Anxiety and the Poor Me’s. None of these were solutions.
Next, I reached out to my support network and shared my concerns. THAT felt much better than carrying around that invisible backpack of fears. Heck, I just dumped that bag out and talked about the situation. I stopped myself from letting the worries of being a burden to friends and family keep me from reaching out. If the situation were reversed, I’d be the first one to “ring” a friend or family member’s bell and offer help.
Stepping up to the issue at first left me feeling less powerless and unable to look beyond the worst case scenario.
This is not the time for “regret” or “guilt” about things that might’ve contributed to the illness or injury. Nor is it the time for denial.
I’m a huge believer in teaching by my example and I had to remind myself of that principle this particular time around.
We heal in community, God willing, not in isolation.
In truth, self-talk can help so much to help you to refrain from overreacting, and so I looked in the mirror, and said, “Pat, you’ve got this.”
Pat replied, “Of course I do. Go sit down and write a column to share your experience and help someone else who might be struggling in a similar way.”
Experiencing a wide range of emotions and reactions to a medical unexpected “visitor” is normal. Relaxing into a new medical situation and focusing on the best possible outcome being a better one than your mind tends to conjure up when that “doorbell” rings makes more sense.
I hope that if you too are faced with something unexpected, these ideas will help in some small way.
Pat Larsen is a certified clinical hypnotherapist who specializes in senior care. Her desire to help others see their way clear to a happy life no matter what their age is what drives her passion. She also teaches a fitness program at The Shamrock House in East Durham weekly designed for Baby Boomers and seniors. Contact Pat at 518-275-8686.