Gerrad’s blog: WaitingSeptember 15, 2015
By Gerrad Downs
It has been a few months since my last entry, partly due to a summer break, and partly due to the fact that my home has become a lot busier since my first child was born.
I finished radiation treatment mid-April, and two and a half weeks later, my wife and I welcomed our son (he was three weeks early). I had to adapt quickly to the stresses of becoming a new parent as well as recovering from seven weeks of radiation treatment.
One of the biggest stressors I had was waiting for my son to begin to recognize me. He took to my wife fairly quickly, but no matter much I held him or changed diapers, for the first two months he just stared blankly at me, like “who is this guy?” At around eight weeks, he began to recognize me. It was a weight off my shoulders, knowing that what I was doing was working instead of being anxious and worried that I was doing everything wrong; that he wasn’t bonding with me. That waiting added to my anxiety and nervousness about becoming a father.
Let me point out the obvious: I am used to waiting, as it is inherent to being sick. You wait at the hospital, you wait for treatment to begin, to end, for your next scan, for your next follow up. It’s a constant stream of “when is the next thing?” A routine with little deviation. I know how long I will be waiting for, and I know for certain when things are going to happen. I find comfort in knowing exactly when the next thing is going to be, and it seems that I have become so accustomed to this, that whenever I am uncertain about other things, it becomes a stressor. So when my son wasn’t recognizing me, I started thinking I must have been doing something wrong.
This of course isn’t just limited to my son, I am also waiting on a lot of other things—like hearing back about an interview for the supply teaching for the local school board so I can get my career started, to hearing back about getting into schools to speak as a YACCtivist. It’s just a lot of waiting and uncertainty over when, where, and IF things are going to happen.
I did find a way of coping with this stress, though. I was worried one night, thinking about all the things I felt I needed to do and had to deal with. I was so worried that I asked my wife for the night off from reading bedtime stories to our son (which is what we do every night after his bath and bedtime bottle). I sat down, wrote everything I was thinking onto a piece of paper, and then organized it into a list. The list included simple tasks, like making a copy of a form to mail or signing thank you cards, to more complex, time-consuming tasks, like power washing the back deck (which took an afternoon).
I found that sitting down and spending the time to organize things alleviated some of my anxiety and helped me feel more in control of the unknown.
What are some tricks you use to organize your thoughts? Tweet them to us at @YACancerCanada!