I Survived

Today started out like any normal, average day. I woke up, who, who, who let the dogs out, plop in front of the TV to eat my usual bowl of cereal (Fruity Pebbles this morning…if I’m feeling daring, it might be Apple Jacks or cinnamon-flavored Life). What comes after depends on my schedule. And seeing as how I’m not yet in school or working, I felt like that should be go to the gym. So I start looking for our combination lock (I was going to shower after getting all sweaty and didn’t want anyone stealing my shampoo) and my phone rings. It’s my sweet friend Paulina wondering if I’d like to take a walk around my neighborhood. Sure, that would be a great way to kill THREE birds with one stone, my dogs get a walk so they’re complacent when I venture out later, I get exercise, and I get human interaction. The 2.5 -mile walk is great and feels like a good prequel to my elliptical workout later. Paulina invites me to her house for lunch, but on the way to get pizza for the guys, her husband calls and says they’re going on lunch shifts and he’s not sure when his is, so don’t buy the pizza yet. We go to her house and watch 30 Days (pretty interesting, never heard of it or seen it before but I was very into it), and my husband calls me. Typical for him, he has lost his house keys and is locked out of the house. I ask him to come pick me up and I will let him in. He calls me back 15 minutes later, I ask him if he’s outside waiting for me, and he says no, he can’t find any of his IDs (military or driver’s license) so he can’t leave post for fear of incurring gate guard wrath. I’m not actually sure what they would do, but I’ve been told I don’t want to find out. Paulina kindly offers to drive me back home even though this includes wrangling an extremely active 2-year-old back into his car seat. I feel terrible about this but she is sweet and doesn’t seem to mind. So nothing exciting going on yet, we get home, I let the husband into the house so he can grab a bite to eat before heading back to work, and I start again preparing myself to go to the gym. I really am glad I didn’t get to eat pizza because I’m trying to be on a diet and pizza would kind of ruin that.

But all day long, ever since Friday night (when I couldn’t call), I’ve had a nagging feeling going on in the back of my mind. Something I’ve tried to wish away, or ignore, but it won’t leave me alone. I made up excuses for why I didn’t do it yesterday. You should call. Make that appointment. You feel terrible and in pain and you’re grumpy and your husband can’t even touch you there anymore, something that you use to enjoy. The weather is cold and it hurts even more which makes you grumpier. CALL. Don’t panic, chances are nothing is at all wrong, but wouldn’t it be nice to be like those other girls and take your bra off after a long day? CALL DAMMIT. If you really want to be a pussy, you know it will take a minimum of two weeks until they can see you and you can cancel the appointment if you chicken out. Wuss.

So, hands trembling, I call. The lady on the other line is grumpy (they always are, it is a common complaint here that the appointment line people are unfriendly) and I hate to tell her what is wrong with such a grumpy voice, but after I meekly spill it, something actually changes in her voice and she gets kinder. She says they can actually see me today if I’m okay with another provider. I’ve only seen my assigned provider once (for a refill on my acne prescription that wouldn’t carry over from Germany even though it is the same health system and they can see that I was prescribed it before and I had 2 refills left) so I’m okay with that, as long as it’s a girl. I am terrified of men. She tells me she’s not sure, the first name is “Courtney” but that doesn’t mean 100% that it’s a woman. Something has gotten into me today and I feel braver and stronger than I normally do (I blame this on the weather, it was a beautiful day and beautiful days make me happy, and perhaps a certain blog post I read recently gave me an extra push) so I say yes, please, I would like that appointment, I can be there in an hour and a half. I know I can say no thank you, please schedule it for a later day, but I know today I feel stronger than normal and if I wait, I will probably cancel it. I would rather do it now than fret about it for weeks.

We hang up.

I freak out.

I run upstairs, and throw myself dramatically on my bed (before a quick pat down to make sure my sweet little dog hasn’t burrowed himself in the blankets as he does multiple times a day), and scream in my head, What did I just agree to do? My heart is pounding and I call my husband. I tell him I know it’s sudden, but can he possibly get some time off work today because I called and they can see me today, but I’m really scared and I want him to come. My voice cracks. I hate myself for this. Quit acting like a baby. He says he will try, but he is assigned to truck-guarding duty and doubts he will be able to get out of it. But he will try.

I take a shower, since I am not going to the gym right now like I had hoped to be. I turn on Pandora and try to dance a little bit because I had a dance party in the shower the other day and it was fun and made me laugh at myself and maybe it will cheer me up today. As if it’s spiting me, Pandora plays melancholy songs that do little for my nerves.

I dress half-way. Run downstairs because my underwear is sitting on top of the dryer, it was washed two days ago but I am too lazy to carry it upstairs. I mousse my hair. I can’t find my brown shoes, so I run upstairs to look for them. They’re not there. I come back down, remember I kicked them under our ottoman when my friend texted and asked if she could come over really quick and I didn’t want her to see my mess. But wait. I forgot my bunny rabbit. I run back upstairs, grab her, and a necklace too. Come BACK down. At least I’m getting a little bit of cardio this way. I hate stairs. I want a one story house. All my friends and family (except my mom) prefer two story homes so I feel mostly alone in this, but I hate the going up and down multiple times a day. Today I don’t mind it as much because the running up and down wears me out a little so I’m not as wound up and anxious.

Check my phone. Can Bumblebee come? No text, no call.

Grab my DS. Maybe they will leave me sitting in the waiting room until closing time and I get to breath a sigh of relief and go home. Might as well have something to do for the next three hours.

Drive. Put Frozen soundtrack on in the car to try and settle my nerves. Feel anger that they are fictional characters and don’t have to worry about things like health exams and PTSD. Wow. Maybe I really do need therapy.

Arrive. My health clinic is five minutes up the road, I could walk there if I was so inclined. Today I’m not. The parking lot is packed. Check my phone again, no husband. I text him to tell him I’m there already so if he’s able, he can just meet me there instead of going home to fetch me. (He always forgets you gotta be there 15 minutes early and I like to be on time. It’s 1403 and my appointment is at 1420.)

Stuff bunny in reusable shopping bag in car so I don’t look like a weirdo as I walk in clutching a stuffed animal.

First sound I hear, baby is SCREECHING. Blood curdling screeching. Be thankful my husband hasn’t arrived yet because he can’t stand kids and this would make him irritable. I love kids but am not in the mood today and it stresses me out even more.

Check in. Receptionists are talking to each other and for the most part ignoring the obviously terrified girl in front of them. Good. Ignore me. Sign in the incorrect patient (just like my school looked up the incorrect student when I was standing right in front of them and told me I didn’t take a biology class I know I had and tried to tell me I couldn’t register for the class I was trying to register for, because said biology class was a pre-requisite) so I can pretend that I’m somewhere else and play my DS until five. 

They smile and hand back my ID card, tell me to have a seat in the waiting room. I try and get far away from the screeching child. Pull out my DS but I can’t focus on it. Another child, older by the sound of his voice, starts screaming, worse than the infant when I first came in. Sigh. Be annoyed. Then feel bad for being irritable, maybe this child is getting his shots and they hurt. I hated shots as a child, I tried to hide in the bathroom at the clinic one time until my mom came in and dragged me out. Now needles don’t bother me. I would take 100 shots over what was about to happen. Hey kid, wanna trade places?

I try and play my game again. Kid is still screeching. I can’t focus. I fold it, put it away, pull out my phone instead, check it. Nothing from my husband. While I’m at it, put my phone on silent. How embarrassing would it be if while I was back there, my phone suddenly went, “Blossom, commander and leader, Bubbles, she is the joy and laughter, Buttercup, she’s the toughest fighter, Powerpuffs save the day…”

I always put my phone on silent for important things like this. I forgot one time, during a therapy session, and my husband called me to see if he could still come, 20 minutes into my session. I scrambled to get to my phone, shut it off, apologize over and over and over about it being turned on, my therapist says it’s okay. HER phone rings. She is annoyed, but has to answer it. It’s the receptionist. I hear, “No, he’s late. He can’t come in. It’s his own fault he was late to his wife’s appointment,” and hangs up. Back to me. I am sad. I wish he could come in, he is my rock and makes difficult things easier to bare. But I dare not ask my therapist after she has made her ruling, I don’t want to seem rude. Later I find out his sergeant was being a dick and wouldn’t let him leave until he helped the other soldiers put away all their equipment, even though he told him over and over the past few days and that morning that his wife had an appointment that afternoon. It wasn’t his fault he was late. I don’t think she liked him. He said off the wall things and she raised her eyebrows at him many times. She seemed happier on the days he didn’t come.

Anyway, back to the present. I’m staring aimlessly at the phone because if I don’t, I will get lost in my head and my thoughts and probably won’t make it back out. Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Please don’t call me back, please don’t call me back, please don’t call me back, please don’t…

Kindly-looking nurse comes out and calls my name. Fuck. Too late to run away now. She leads me to a room where there’s another nurse. I am instantly alarmed. I have never been in a room with TWO nurses. What did I do wrong? Did they read my medical records from my past clinic? Oh my God they’re going to hold me down and—

My blood pressure is high. It is never high, and I know why it’s high today. She says she will check it again after the other nurse is done asking me questions. They are both kind and I relax a little. I will be a good nurse like them. I will make patients feel better and be kind to them when they are terrified and I will smile and be friendly and I will be good at my job. I hope. Then the bad thoughts. If this terrifies you so much, what makes you think you will be a good nurse? You disgust me. Go work at the Gap for the rest of your life you worthless human being, you don’t belong in the field of medicine.

Second time with the blood pressure check. It’s better now. I’m glad.

One nurse stays there, one walks me to another room. She bends over to open one of the drawers in the examining table. Hey, hey, what are you doing in there, I’ve never seen anyone go in there before and you’re making me nervous because I don’t know what you’re going to pull out. Is it legal for doctors to shackle their patients to the table? I really wish I knew if my doctor was a male or female but I am too terrified to talk or ask any questions. I hope I don’t seem rude but I just can’t get my mouth to move or my brain to string together letters to make words.

It’s a paper shirt. Oh. I don’t like that, but at least it’s not chains. She pulls the curtain and asks if I have any questions. I finally find my voice. I’m sorry but is it okay if I don’t wear that? You see, if I wear that without a bra, the fabric will be excruciatingly torturous…

She looks guilty and like she feels bad. *I* feel bad just for asking. She didn’t even think about that even after she asked all those questions. No, of course not. It’s there if I want it but not a necessity. Any other questions? Okay, push the red button when you’re ready. Hmm,  that’s handy. Good thinking.

I take my bunny out of the reusable shopping bag, I need her now. I hope the doctor doesn’t think poorly of me. I change. I sit on the table. I pray, still, that maybe no one will come. Maybe they will forget I’m in that room and I fall asleep and the next thing I know it’s nine o’ clock at night and I get to go home, try again another day. Maybe when I’m thirty.

My heart is racing. I feel sick. I know it’s just nerves but that doesn’t make the queasy feeling in my stomach go away. Please, please, if someone does come for me, take your time so I have time to breath and mentally calm myself down. I don’t want to have a panic attack when you walk in the room. And if you’re a male, I’m sorry, but I probably will have a panic attack. It’s not your fault, it’s mine.

I clutch my bunny to my chest to help the nausea. I can’t even look around out of fear (and I’m normally very curious), I just stare blankly straight ahead at a white wall. I start to feel over-whelmed. I curl into a ball to stop the tears.

Small sigh. I feel a little bit better. Curling into a ball always makes me feel better. My husband knows this all too well, I did it all the time when we were still dating.

In what felt like seconds but was really about 10 minutes, knock knock. Hello Mrs. Walk?

Oh thank God. That’s a female voice. That’s also a very sweet sounding female voice. I like sweet.

I tentatively stick my head up just in time for her to come around the curtain. Did I really make it in time? Did she see me in my ball? Oh my God, she thinks I’m crazy and she hates me already…….and wait. I can’t see it, but I can FEEL I have crazy hair. Stupid ball-curling tendencies.

I pat it down out of nerves. If she saw me in my ball, she didn’t say anything. I am thankful for that. She’s wearing a white coat and I feel more nervous and anxious. But she looks like a kind lady so I am grateful.

She has a look on her face I can’t place, but for the life of me I’m trying to figure it out. Sympathy? Pity? I don’t know. But it’s not a negative face. I can’t deal with a negative face. She asks me questions about my period, my current birth control (none I got cut off, we use condoms now), my previous birth controls. Please don’t ask my most feared question, the one that would make me clam up and look at my lap, too fearful to talk anymore. I don’t want to lie anymore because that’s what bad girls do and I want desperately to be a good girl, but I am fearful of your response if I tell you the truth. The shackles thing is all in my head, right?

She doesn’t.

She also doesn’t look at or ask about my bunny, still wrapped tightly in my arms pulled to my chest. I am really appreciate of that because I am embarrassed I need it but it helps so very much, you have no idea how much it helps. Please, please don’t hate me. I am always worried people hate me or that I am an inconvenience. I’m sorry I’m so scared of you, I want to explain, tell you why, but I can’t find my voice and even if I could, my brain is so scrambled right now I wouldn’t be able to string the words together to tell you. I wish I had my shirt on while we talk.

I feel like my voice is tiny and shaky, but I answer the questions as best as I can with a foggy thought-racing mind that doesn’t want to function right now. Brain don’t fail me now. 

It’s time. I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and lay down. Don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry. You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay. Don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry–

These two sentences go around and around and around in my mind, give me something to focus on. But hey, it’s not that bad. My eyes are still closed tightly shut. I think about opening them. I relax slightly. It really isn’t that bad. Hey wait a second…I wince. That didn’t feel good. She pauses. I open my eyes half way. What is that look on her face? I can’t figure it out. Please don’t feel bad, I know you’re trying to help me and I appreciate it even though I don’t say it. Trust me, I’ve felt worse, and you’re being incredibly gentle. I like you. Can you be my new doctor?

Time for the other side. I wince a lot more on this side and she apologizes a lot and I wish I could tell her how I feel, please don’t apologize, I’m the one who feels bad for wincing so much, you’re a nice, good doctor and thank you for being so caring. Do you know how many mean and terrible doctors I’ve seen? I feel comfortable with you even though it doesn’t look like it. This is as comfortable as I get in this situation.

And just like that, we’re done. I can’t help but smile inside. I DID IT. And I don’t feel like hurting myself like the last time something similar happened. I’m not proud of that, but it happened and I can’t deny it.

She smiles and says I seem perfectly healthy, no lumps. This time my sigh of relief is audible and I smile outside. I am so thankful to be healthy! But do I drink a lot of caffeine? (I drink about two tea bags worth of caffeine a day. I tried to wean myself off it completely but got horrible migraines. I mix decaf tea bags with as little caffeinated tea bags as I can.) She felt tiny cyst-like things that are common with heavy caffeine use (forgive my memory, I was still in my foggy state of mind and don’t remember exactly what she called them) and she knows I am having incredible pain and sensitivity and she wants to help me feel better, she wants me to get an ultrasound. I’m nervous. I’ve only had an ultrasound once, on my stomach. That lady wasn’t nice and I was scared of her. I don’t want to do it again, on such a private body part, even though I know that lady won’t be here to do it and I could possibly end up with a very nice person. I am really nervous again. My smile fades. Her next recommendation scares me even more. If she can’t figure out what it is with the ultrasound, she wants to refer me to a gynecologist. I’ve never seen a specialist for anything and this one is very scary to me, but I will say that lately my fear of them has gone down significantly and that makes me feel better about this potential visit. There are still things I’m not brave enough to do yet, even though I need to do them. PTSD is a bitch and there’s no one-size-fits-all cure.

I get a nice little card with the numbers to radiology on it and when my next appointment is. My doctor wants me to come back to see her three days after my ultrasound, even though she’s not my assigned doctor (that makes me very happy because she knows me now and I like her very much and want to come back to her and not someone new).

I drive home. I am smiling. I feel very relieved, very happy, and if I do say so myself, very proud. This is something that terrified the living crap out of me and I did it, and I did it without crying (something I shamefully do a lot of when I’m scared), and I did it without wanting to harm myself afterwards.

I don’t have much of an appetite, but that’s okay. I’m trying to lose weight after all.

My husband comes home after many hours (it felt like forever), and wants to know how it went. He apologizes for not coming, but I understand how last minute it was and how important his job is. But I don’t want to tell him because I know that look on his face and he will tease me and I’m not in the mood to be teased. How’d the boobie check go?

I want to punch him just for wording it like that. My face turns red and I tell him it went VERY well, thank YOU very much.

He grins at me. He says he’s proud of me because he knows that was a big step. He says, what about the next big step?

I glare at him. Don’t go there. But I am glad he is acting a little more mature now. Then he ruins it.

Did you let them touch your bajingle?

I seriously want to throw something at him right now. Maybe one of his combat boots, those things weigh a ton. He can see the murderous look in my eye because I hate when he talks about it so callously like that, and he skips out of the kitchen and starts begging for food from a safe distance.

I’m still not hungry. And I’m angry at him now and don’t want to cook for him. Plus I forgot to go grocery shopping since everything happened so fast today.

My bunny and I go sit on the couch and open my DS. I’m still carrying her around, for the rest of the day anyway. Tomorrow I will be back to normal and she will stay on my headboard where she belongs. I start to feel nervous again and I don’t understand why, I’ve felt fine the rest of the day, save for feeling rather introverted and not wanting to interact with anyone except my husband (who has now lost that exception). Within seconds, my Luna is curled up in my lap, and my Cricket snuggles up to my side. My nervousness melts away. My dogs really do help a lot with my anxiety. I am thankful for them too.