Dealing with Healthcare Burnout
Last updated: July 2023
I do not know about you, but I am tired of all the doctor's visits, scans, and bloodwork that I must often endure. Having advanced breast cancer means we are in treatment forever. That means we are constantly in and out of offices and medical buildings. I love my doctor, but I get tired of seeing him every 21 days, and sometimes more.
And it is not just an oncologist that you have to see. There are also neurologists, gynecologists, palliative care, radiologists, dentists, cardiologists, and other specialists related to cancer and cancer treatments. That is a lot of office visits. And we can't forget the bone, pet, MRI, and ct scans.
That is why healthcare burnout is a very real thing. I started making all my appointments in the afternoon because I had to prepare myself for treatments and office visits mentally. Feeling anxiety when going to the doctor is very common, even if you've been to that doctor hundreds of times. It could be a simple check-up, and it still causes stress and anxiety.
This or That
Have you experienced burnout from healthcare?
White coat syndrome
Have you ever heard of white coat syndrome? Basically, it means every time you go to the doctor, your anxiety goes up, your blood pressure can rise, and even your heart rate will increase.
It must be common if they've come up with that term for it. It can be more challenging for those with cancer because we have to constantly worry about progression and bad news.
Tips for getting over healthcare burnout
So, what do we do? How do we calm our anxiety and get through the healthcare burnout?
1. Making appointments work for you
As I mentioned already, I make all my appointments for the afternoon. I am not a morning person, and I feel sicker in the morning than in the afternoon. By the afternoon, I've had time to relax with a cup of tea and not feel rushed, which causes anxiety.
The mornings may be better for you because the fatigue has kicked in by the afternoon. So make sure you schedule your appointments for when you know you will feel a little better. Also, scheduling your appointments in one week instead of spreading them throughout the month can help. Yes, you may be exhausted by Friday, but you will have the rest of the month to take it easy.
2. Bringing something while you wait
Another suggestion is to bring something to keep you busy while you wait. I swear we spend most of our lives waiting on doctors and tests. If I don't have something to keep me busy while I wait, I will get antsy, anxious, and even frustrated.
Bring a book with you or a journal that you can write in. A crossword puzzle or word seek book is excellent at keeping your mind busy.
3. Bringing someone who will distract you
Lastly, you can bring a friend or family member with you, preferably one who is good at talking about other things besides doctor's visits. You can play games during more extended visits like pet scans and treatments.
They make travel scrabble and other travel-sized games. Perfect for some entertainment in the treatment room. Even bringing some snacks with you can make time pass a little quicker.
What keeps you from having healthcare burnout? Do you bring something to keep you busy? What kinds of things do you bring or do while at the doctor's office or receiving treatments?
Advanced breast cancer is an isolating and lonely disease.