As I said in my last post after many, many years of not having any health services I decided to hook up with a local visiting physician’s service and get some long overdue medical attention. While my general physical health has always been good (thank you God) it was unsettling to know that should I need to have a doctor for some reason I could not get to one. This visiting physician’s service seemed to be just what I needed to give me some peace of mind. I WISH I could also find a visiting DENTIST! At any rate this service has a few different types of doctors…just enough to cover the basics. I got myself signed up (dealt with the dread of having a medical person (nurse practitioner ) come to the house to do the preliminaries, and then requested the foot doctor to look at my ankle. He eventually came and decided perhaps with my tentative diagnosis of tarsal tunnel and/or tendonitis I might benefit from some physical therapy. I requested to use a home health agency that I used when my mom was alive because they had a fantastic physical therapist named Claire. Much to my delight Claire was still working for them and would be coming to treat me. Her first day was to be March 28th 2014. The day went like this (taken from my journal entry)….
March 28, 2014…I woke up this morning as I did the past few mornings – happy and excited! This was the day that Claire was coming! She was scheduled to be here around 1 o’clock in the afternoon. I had already seen the nurse practitioner and foot doctor from the visiting physician’s service that my friend BJ had discovered for me and now it was time to get some physical therapy for my ankle. My ankle had been giving me trouble since last October, just before the holiday season and it was not getting significantly better on its own so now it was time to bite the bullet and get it evaluated and treated. The tentative diagnosis was tarsal tunnel syndrome and/or tendonitis. Claire was the physical therapist that took such exquisite care of my mother when she came home from the hospital on so many occasions and needed physical therapy. Claire and my mom had a very special bond and it warmed my heart to watch those two interacting during their sessions. The one time that stands out most predominantly in my mind was when I looked up from my computer and saw the two of them dancing and gliding across our living room floor “walker-style.” They were smiling and giggling and acting like school kids rehearsing for a school dance. There are no words to describe the joy and sense of peace that Claire brought into our home, especially to my mother. This time however, the PT was for me.
I had not seen Claire for a couple of years and for days now I had been looking forward to seeing her once again. In a few short hours she would be here! I was so happy that it could be arranged that Claire could be the physical therapist used to address the issue with my ankle. I had an x-ray of my ankle scheduled for the following Monday, but those results were not needed today as this was just an intake interview, a process with which I was well acquainted from the days Claire treated my mother. Being a person who thrives on routine I was so pleased that I knew a lot of what would be happening. Seeking medical attention had been a very fearful and threatening experience for me for most of my life. I am not exactly sure why medical people always made me so terrified; perhaps it had to do with their having control over my body and I found that very frightening. I find it hilarious that at one point I actually seriously entertained the idea of becoming a brain surgeon!
So now the hour was upon me. For the first time in probably 20-ish years I was seeking medical attention. Suddenly and oddly about two hours before Claire was due to arrive I began to feel EXTREMELY anxious. I was actually shocked since I had been happily anticipating Claire’s arrival. I was not totally blown out of the water, but had to take a valium (which didn’t help much) and it was discouraging nonetheless. I suppose it is never a good idea to have an expectation of how something “should” or will go. That being said, I had not truly looked forward to anyone visiting me for a very long time and besides I had multitudes of pleasant visions of our visit prior to the day she arrived. Fortunately, this was the traditional “intake’ visit, but Claire already knew a lot about me so we cut the paperwork short and had some extra time to chat and catch up on our lives since we last saw one another. I was feeling so sad that the visit was so hard for me to do anxiety-wise, but at the same time was so happy to see my old friend.
I think this would be a good place to elaborate on what I mean by “anxious.” For a person with an anxiety disorder of magnitude the word anxiety usually has a LOT of umph behind it. The word is thrown about so loosely in society these days as is the word depression. Often people who think they are truly depressed are actually just very sad. Similarly, since anxiety is a “normal” human emotion the general population thinks that when a person with the disorder says they are anxious they think they can identify. The truth is that the kind of anxiety I am talking about, especially when I emphasize it, is “off-the-charts” for the normal range of anxiety. It is a fear/nervousness/feeling of doom that defies logic and feels like you won’t survive it. I often liken it to being in a situation where someone is holding a gun to your head and you have no idea of what the end result will be. Your heart races, you tremble and gasp for air and lose all clarity of thought. There are so many other possible symptoms, but you get the idea. For anxiety-challenged people this may not even be a full blown panic attack, just very high anxiety! In a class I took on systematic desensitization I was taught to calculate my anxiety on a scale from 1-10. Anywhere above let’s say a number 8 on that scale might as well be a full blown panic attack. When Claire showed up at my door for that first visit I was about at a 7 or 8 on that scale. Not fun.
Before too long Claire left and told me she’d be back the following Monday. The good little agoraphobic that I am immediately started visualizing disastrous visits for the remainder of our time together. I tried my best, however, to convince myself that this was a one-time thing (perhaps simply because I hadn’t seen her in a long time and was not used to being in her company) and surely next time would be better. I did my best to remain optimistic, but it was difficult. For people with anxiety challenges like mine, our brains record the way we felt the last time we were in a certain situation and that sets us up for a pre-conceived idea about how we will feel or react the next time we are in the same kind of situation. It’s almost like an invisible recording or snapshot is taken of the event which stays in our brain and that is what we react to whenever we do or sometimes even think about doing the same thing again. A perfect example of this would be an experience I had with my cable repairman about TWENTY years ago. He came to do a general repair and I had extremely high anxiety the whole time he was here…virtually gasping for air. To this day whenever I have to make an appointment for a repair that memory comes racing to the forefront and causes me a great deal of anticipatory anxiety as well and anxiety while the repairman is here. I don’t let it stop me from having things done, but that memory still has great power.
At any rate, my visit with Claire was not at ALL what I had hoped or expected it to be. I was left bewildered. This was the beginning of a whole new journey in my life. I was simply trying to be brave enough to start taking care of myself ….which led to a series of complicated and sometimes scary events which have made me think about writing a second book! I am sure this is all just part of my life’s path and will lead to even more self-discovery, but it can sure be a bumpy road at times….. “More will be revealed”….!
Namaste to all…..