Anger…!

Have you ever come back from the doctor’s office and wanted to punch something?

Dealing with the medical system can be incredibly frustrating. Doctors sometimes seem uncaring. They dump a bunch of bad news in your lap with no answers. Dealing with insurance companies… don’t even get me started! Your husband has cancer and here you are arguing over why he needed a blood test. As a cancer caregiver you have to not only learn how to navigate the system, but advocate for your husband every step of the way.

They Should Help Me!

I remember so vividly sitting in the office of our primary care doctor when we got the results of my husband’s head scan and it showed a large tumor in his brain. We were both in shock. She proceeded to tell us he needed to see a neurosurgeon and they would give some names. Later that day when I started calling, I was not able to get my husband in sooner than two weeks. The insurance was telling me I didn’t need a referral, but none of the surgeons would see him without one. I called the primary care doctor to see if they could expedite his appointment and they said they could not. Are you f@#$ing kidding me! What was I supposed to do? They were no help what so ever. I was furious and felt completely abandoned. I was in a situation where I had no idea what to do and felt my husband’s life literally rested on my shoulders.

Own It

It wasn’t till much later that I learned that anger is an emotion that comes from my thoughts. At the time I was thinking, they should help me! Every time I thought this it made me furious. Even now the anger wells up. I needed to focus on a more constructive thought which would have been, how do I get him the help he needs? I eventually came to this and ended up taking him to the emergency room. There, the ER doctor worked tirelessly for hours to get him seen that day by a neurosurgeon. They ended up taking him by ambulance down to UC San Francisco where one of their top surgeons removed the tumor just a few days later.

Let The Steam Out…

In the caregiver role you have a lot on your plate. While you may get angry and frustrated, it’s important to be able to recognize the feeling so that you can own it and let it go. When your mind is not clouded with angry thoughts, you will be better able to take the actions you need.

What should you do when you are so angry you can’t see straight?

  1. Recognize and acknowledge that your thoughts are the cause of your anger. Not the doctor, not the insurance company. This is important because when you take ownership of your anger, you are no longer a victim of it. You can move out of that powerless state to one where you are in control.
  2. Vent your anger and allow it to be. Anger is a strong emotion and you do not want to suppress it. However, you also don’t want to take it out on others – this is never helpful. One of the best ways I know to vent anger is to write it out. Just get a piece of blank paper and fill it with all your angry thoughts. Gets those thoughts out of your head. It may take a couple days of doing this, that is OK. It’s better than loosing it with someone or trying to stuff it down.
  3. Move on to more constructive thoughts. Sometimes anger can fuel helpful actions. Other times we just stew in our anger. We want to focus our mind on thoughts that are helpful. Take your mind out of blame mode and focus it on finding the solution you need.

How Much Time Are You Spending In Anger?

If anger is consuming you, then know that as long as you let it, you will be stuck in blame. When you are blaming others you are not focusing on getting what you need. Just remember that anger comes from your thoughts. Let them out so you can move on and truly be there for your self and your husband.

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