Test Anxiety: Let’s start by admitting we all suffer this waiting game

Two boys getting a checkup.

SEE THAT BOY AWAITING THE TEST? The anxiety often is worse than the test itself. (These young brothers were photographed by FEMA emergency service workers as they got checkups after a hurricane displaced thousands of families.)

MY TURN for a check up rolled around this week.

Heather Jose

Heather Jose

Overall, the trip to the clinic for these tests wasn’t too inconvenient, just a day spent doing a scan, some labs, and seeing my oncologist. I’ve done many of them in the past fourteen years since learning about the cancer. You would think that I would be used to it by now. I have the routine down. I can fit everything that used to take visits on two different days in to a matter of hours.

It’s the Test Anxiety that gets me. Every time. This visit I thought I was doing really well. I hadn’t been fretting about it as I sometimes do. On the days leading up to the appointment, I wasn’t overly sensitive to an ache or pain thinking that it could be cancer. That was good.

But that anxiety crept up on me as I waited (and waited and waited) for my doctor to come in to see me. I was surprised that my bone scan results weren’t available yet. That was a little unusual. I began to wonder what the hold up might be. Why was my doctor taking so long? Was she making a plan? Were my scans showing activity?

Was this the day my life would change—again?

As it turned out, everything was fine. My scans were stable. My doctor was simply running behind. I could feel my body relax as I heard the news.

But, is this a familiar story in your life, too?

It is important to realize that there is a level of anxiety that surrounds doctor visits. At one time, my own stress level would elevate weeks before a visit. On more then one occasion my husband or friend would have to talk me off the ledge. The stress could become all consuming. I knew that the results would affect the life that I was living. It is challenging even now as I try to work and live a crazy life knowing that everything could change in a single day of testing. I don’t like to tell people about it or make it a big deal—but it always is there.

Test anxiety is one of those things that isn’t talked about enough. Yet it affects how we deal with others, especially our caregivers. It can make seemingly normal situations and turn them upside down. If not recognized as such, it can cause hurt feelings. However, when acknowledged and addressed as a real issue—it is manageable.

We even laugh about it at times. And that is healthy. It feels good to be honest about these fears, doesn’t it?

Well, I have shared honestly today. Come on: How about you? Share a story with us.


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