Sarcastic diagnosis and emotional growth

The time had come for me to get a checkup. These past recent months I had been having anxiety symptoms manifest themselves as physical symptoms, such as tingling.
As I walked into the doctor’s office, I was handed a form that was a packet of questions about my health. There were checkboxes and lines for listing symptoms and I was in heaven. At last I was going to get it all out, to release my inner demons onto page instead of in a text that would surely get the response: “No, Claire, it’s not a blood clot.”
I felt like I was back in high school filling out my European AP written exam – everyone else hated it, but I relished it. I wrote side comments to the checkboxes and questions in the comments section. I went to town.
After forty minutes of scribbling my symptoms away, I waited and eventually got called to go in the room.
You can imagine the appointment being a fairly regular experience. I was nervous but I kept my cool, and I talked a mile a minute listing off everything that had been worrying me.
My doctor, like everyone else, rolled her eyes at me.
“You’re twenty-two,” she said in her Eastern European accent. “You can handle everything. I wish I was feeling what you’re feeling.”
But, she wasn’t cold with me as she explained the ways I could reduce stress in my life.
“If you drink a lot, maybe your body doesn’t like alcohol,” she said. “Then just stop drinking, it’s okay.”
Obviously she had just met me.
As I was finishing my checkup, she told me that I was going to get my blood drawn. I tensed up, thinking about the incident with the IV. She left the room and I waited, controlling my breathing and sitting. My memory of waiting for the IV to be inserted and then my crying and the oral doctor getting angry at me only was beginning to manifest as the medical assistant came into the room.
“Hi, I just want you to know that I get nervous with things like this,” I said immediately.
She played along with making small talk about the city and even though I kept my focus on the ceiling, I looked down at her getting the kit ready.
“I’m not going to look,” I said.
“No, don’t look,” she said.
As she put the needle in, I stopped mid-sentence, feeling elated and my smile spreading across my face.
“I’m doing it!” I exclaimed. “Oh this is such a big thing for me, I had a panic attack when I tried getting my wisdom teeth out last year and this means that I can do it!”
I was getting choked up with hope and pride, feeling as if I could conquer the world.
“That’s very good,” the medical assistant said motherly.
Once she finished up I did feel a bit light-headed (getting worked up over my medical accomplishments) and as I put my head down on the cot, I laughed and giggled and breathed easier and deeper, relief allowing me to relax my muscles and mind.
I signed out and left the building, knowing that I had done something that everyone has to do, and something that was very easy to do. But the mind can trick us into thinking there’s some dark narrative about to be written about our lives. Today I wasn’t reading that book.


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