Whether it's for yourself or a loved one, it can be incredibly stressful to wait for a formal diagnosis. On top of possible physical symptoms, such as pain or nausea, it’s common to feel emotionally distressed while waiting to see the doctor, have a test scheduled, or get lab results back. Here are some tips for managing the difficult period before a looming diagnosis and planning for what’s next, regardless of the news you get.
Take control of your health.
You know your body best! If you’re not getting the answers you need, look elsewhere and build a healthcare team that supports you. You can also take control of understanding and following through on your health by trying an app like Abridge to record information from your appointments across your entire care team and keep track of your symptoms.
You may be seeing a number of different healthcare providers, both within specific specialties and beyond, as you assemble the right team to support you. This calls for a holistic way to keep everyone — you, your doctors, and your family — on the same page. Appointments, test results, prescriptions, and symptom lists abound when you’re waiting for a major diagnosis. To stay organized, try to collect all your health information in one place. This can also make it easier to spot patterns, potentially leading to a faster diagnosis.
Rely on your support system.
You don’t have to carry the weight of waiting alone. Whether they accompany you to your appointments or greet you at home, rely on your family and friends to support you. Letting people prepare food for you, drive you to appointments, or distract you with movie nights can have a positive impact on your health.
Look for solidarity.
There are plenty of in-person and online support groups for chronic or terminal illnesses, and many that help others who are in a similar position to you. Finding people who understand what you’re going through can make you feel a lot less lonely.
Don’t forget self-care.
Anxiety and stress can negatively affect your physical health, and make it even harder to navigate the limbo of waiting for a diagnosis. That’s why it’s important to take time for self-care and find ways to destress. Find the relaxation activity that works best for you — whether it’s knitting, going on nature walks, or cuddling with a pet — and try to incorporate it into your daily routine.
It can be challenging to be waiting on a diagnosis, but it can be empowering to plan for your future and take control of your health. Do you have any other advice that helped you or a loved one get through the waiting period? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your tips.