Spend Your Time Wisely - The "Waiting Bag"
Since I unfortunately spend alot of time in doctors' waiting rooms, I quickly learned to make the most of this seemingly wasted time. I learned this skill from my over achiever mother, who used every moment as a chance to get something done. Since I became sick at a young age, she was the person who drove me to the doctor and had to wait with me, or for me, in the office waiting room.
She would bring with her a book to read or school work to do, or sometimes magazines to enjoy or Christmas cards to write out. It became a routine for both of us to bring small jobs with us, to keep busy, feel productive and keep our minds off of the dreaded doctor's visit. When I was younger- this was the time for my homework or studying. The time would quickly fly, and it did not feel wasted.
My mother always thought ahead and brought snacks, or fun stuff like little portable games when I was younger. Many times I remember children crying to their parents that they were hungry or bored, and watched as they stared with yearning for whatever treat my mother brought for me.
Now that I am older, I still have the same amount of doctor's appointments, but I do not have the luxury of my mother coming with me. I find that I still use the productive skills she gave me. I started my own "waiting bag." I have a tote bag that I leave by the door and fill with little tasks or activities that are not time sensitive, so they can wait for the moments when I am waiting. It started with a few things in the bag- and now it has grown to have things I need, or look forward to.
My Waiting Bag consists of a few essentials.
I no longer have homework for school that I need to do, but I find that there are always little things I want to read or work on. For example, occasionally I will cut out an article that looks interesting that I have been meaning to read, but did not have the time for at the moment. I also leave a book or magazine that I am reading in the bag.
I always mean to send thank you notes or even notes to keep in touch etc., so I added a small pack of pretty blank notes. I can use these blank notes for thank you's, keeping in touch, get well soon, even birthdays. I keep pens, my Palm Pilot (or your address book) and a few extra stamps in the bag.
Many times this has helped me catch up on notes or cards I have been meaning to send. The Palm Pilot has been great because it not only has the addresses of anyone I want to keep in touch with, but it also has a calendar to remind me of dates that are coming up to be celebrated. With all of our email communication, I still find that people love to
receive a card or note in the mail- I know I do.
I also carry with me a little notepad. Not only is this good to carry into the actual doctor's visit to write down important information, but I find that whenever an idea floats into my head- it is good to write it down right away. Sometimes when you are in a waiting room in silence, you think about the oddest things. I have remembered people to call, dinners to make, or even ideas for my personal writing.
I always keep a few things in my waiting bag to help keep me more comfortable and happy. I bring a small bottle of water, a snack like a granola bar or nuts, a small size lotion, chapstick and mints or candy. These are the things that I have found make me happy, I am sure you will find your own. And don't forget to replenish them as you use them.
As I am reading the newspaper or listening to the news, I have had questions I want to ask my doctor about. I used to forget the exact details or forget to ask the doctor the question at all. Now I remember to cut out the article or write down the question and bring it with me. I also have found that many times as I drive away from the doctor, I think to myself "oh, I wish I had asked the doctor that". Now I quickly write it down, and leave it in my bag for next time if it is not urgent.
In addition, I bring with me my medication bottles, or a list of anything I take (including over the counter drugs, vitamins etc.) so when I am asked, I can refer to the list and not have to struggle to remember.
The items listed above are what are in my "waiting bag", but you might find that you will add your own special items. I know a woman that brings her crocheting along with her, or mothers who clip grocery store coupons. I recently purchased a few of the travel size tissues and antibacterial lotions, and have added them to my bag. Just add whatever will make you happy, or whatever will keep you busy.
I think my waiting bag is a good idea for anyone who finds themselves in similar situations, waiting in doctors' offices. But I have heard from friends that they have started their own "waiting bags", for times when they are waiting at the DMV, on errands, waiting for their kids, or even at their children's athletic games.
Many people wonder how I keep up with everything on my plate, but I have found that it is just that I have learned to spend my time wisely!
Written by Christine Miserandino © 2005
About the Author: Christine Miserandino is a writer, motivational speaker, and patient advocate from NY. She also happens to be someone who is living with Lupus. Her writing has been featured in numerous newspapers, magazines, medical newsletters and television media. Check out http://www.ButYouDontLookSick.com to read more of her articles, and to receive her monthly newsletter.