I live on an island, so we’re often dependent on the ferries that carry islanders to the mainland and back. And because this is Canada’s west coast, high winds or rough seas can very occasionally cause sudden sailing delays or outright cancellations. When this happens, we often don’t know when sailings will resume, and nobody can tell us. Uncertainty like this about what daily life will bring includes both the routinely ordinary (what’s causing this traffic jam?) and the potentially important (when will my test results come in?) This state of uncertainty is what psychologists often call “cognitive dread”. . Continue reading “Cognitive dread: the painful uncertainty of waiting”
I vaguely recall my gurney being wheeled very quickly down a wide hospital corridor after I heard the words “heart attack” from the cardiologist who had been called to the E.R. I stared up at the ceiling lights flicking by overhead, feeling freakishly calm, considering. Here’s what I recall thinking in my strangely calm state: when I’d first come into this same E.R. two weeks earlier, terrified that my symptoms of chest pain, nausea, sweating and pain down my left arm might be due to a heart attack, I had been right!
The symptoms had never been because I was “in the right demographic for acid reflux” (despite what the Emergency physician who’d sent me home that first day had confidently pronounced). But now, after two weeks of popping Gaviscon like candy for these increasingly horrific symptoms, I felt relieved. I knew that all of the people around me now would know how to take care of me. The shock of hearing my new (correct) diagnosis of heart attack was subsumed in that moment by a wave of profound relief. Continue reading “The shock – and ironic relief – of hearing a serious diagnosis”