The History of a Phobia;or, Physician, Heal Thyself and Leave Me the Hell Alone

Great, Lisa. You thought everyone needed a background history of your fear of doctors. Thought it would be a paragraph or two didn’t you? Then you could tell the ever so fascinating, graphic story of your kidney infection. But no, before you were done there were over 1000 words of something that could be daintily told in one sentence: I’m scared doctors will tell me I’m about to kick the can, so I don’t go to doctors. Amen.

So dearest readers, please enjoy if possible, and soon enough I will talk about blood in urine and other pleasantries.

When I was a little girl, my mother took me to the doctor for every sniffle and I had a cold at least once a month. This didn’t bother me much because I hadn’t yet come up with the idea of croaking from several different diseases. This isn’t to say I didn’t think I was weaker than other children, because I did, and actually was in a way.  I think the hyper-reflexia wore me out easier since my muscles never completely relaxed, and maybe in those days I hung on to a cold longer than other children (but then, I also was eager to stay out of school as long as possible). Also, it isn’t to say I thought I’d live to see adulthood. In fact, by the time I was 8, I convinced myself I would die by my 10th birthday. It was 1987 and the war on drugs was in full swing.  I became obsessed with it, convinced by all those public service ads that I would soon die. It was almost like a catching disease, and I began to imagine that years ago someone gave me drugs, which I couldn’t remember, and by delayed reaction I would die years later. Ten seemed like an evil age because it was double digits and by all those drug ads, I thought that once you got that old an almost irresistible force came and you got strung out on coke.

My Brain, Age 8

By the time I was 12, however, I had for the most part given up my “catch-a- drug- addiction-obsession” and focused it more on “the-police-and everyone-will-think-I’m-on-drugs-and-arrest-me-obsession.” (Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I either A) was an insane kid not in touch with reality, or B) I was just really, really dumb to believe such things as old as I was). It was about this time I stopped going to doctors. By my teens, I seldom had colds and Mom figured out that if I did have one, it wasn’t necessary to put me on antibiotics for a viral infection.  As I grew older a blanket of  uncertainty regarding my health seemed to be thrown over me. I saw signs in everything of impending doom, of thinking the normal discharge from my you-know-and-if-you-don’t-i-ain’t-telling-you-what was a sign of cancer or something nice and fatal.

Fast forward some more and at age 19 I went for my first prodding. I only went because my shrink at that time refused to believe me that Paxil, the antidepressant I was on, was stopping my monthly curse, which it was (apparently I’m that 1 in 10,000 whose period stops on certain SSRI antidepressants. Who can beat those odds?). We’ll just say it wasn’t smooth sailing and I screamed. Not gasped. Screamed. The good doctor told me she’d done the procedure on a 4 year-old once, which was fine, but you hadn’t done it on me. Give my fat, yet surprisingly tight ass a break considering I had not even used a tampon in those days. When I got a notice for another exam a year later, my mother was like, “Eh, you’re fine.”

Down the road a little more and I’m around 21. I got off my medicine for about a year then and I began to bleed again like a normal person and that delightful fat which helped in vouchsafing my purity started melting away. It was crazy. I went from 250 lb. to 180 in a year, and probably would have lost much more if The Cold didn’t happen.  The year I stopped taking my medicine was manageable, though about every 15 minutes or so I’d feel small surges of anxiety that came and went, plus at various times a terrible guilt plagued me so that I had to figure what I had done to cause it. That was the year I kept thinking I contracted HIV everyday by unique, creative ways.  All that I could sort of manage, but then The Cold sent me haywire.

Anyway. one afternoon at school I felt so sick I might faint and was ever so grateful when my mother picked me up. At the time I had no idea that faintness would set off something  and I got better. That part of my brain that hides and waits to pounce on something suddenly exploded to the worst sort of panic I ever felt, and it was a panic that would not subside. My mind felt tightly wound, my skin felt as though it was crawling, and all I could do was remain terrified. Out of my mother’s presence, I felt sure I’d fall down dead or that I had diabetes and ready to slip into a coma. What I ate tasted different, like I imagine  death tastes, and I had no appetite. Worst anxiety I ever had I think and I almost dropped out of college before I got back  on medicine. Still no doctors except my psychiatrist though I was certain I was in my death throes. It subsided eventually when I returned to my fat, medicated self, but dropping dead still likes to hang out in the back of my head on the rare occasions I go far from home alone. “Enjoy that stroke, Fatso,” etc.

Fast forward once more, age 27, my second and last prodding. I just got Medicaid and the doctor’s office my social worker suggested thought it proper I be prodded and I acquiesced. May I say something here on doctor’s clinics who depend almost solely on Medicaid for their bread? In a word, they SUCK. My first inclination this was a sub-par place was the fact they wanted me to update my records twice, once without ever seeing me. The second was the nurse couldn’t find my vein to save her life. “Do your veins roll?” she asked. To which my reply was, “What?” I was a docile cow as the young woman stuck me at least 3 times without finding a mark, but my mother, a retired nurse, got cross. She asked for another nurse who got my blood the first try. Mama said later that people my age don’t have rolling veins and that after the second try on someone she always got another nurse to try. It didn’t particularly hurt, but I was feeling a bit annoyed.

The nurse practitioner was nice and I gladly report I didn’t scream, though I had to ask her for a breast exam. Um third inclination. Fourth inclination was when I returned to be told I was fine except my good cholesterol was too low, I had to wait 2 hours in the waiting room and I thought for certain that meant I had bad results. Fifth inclination was that if I didn’t make another appointment by phone, I could lose my Medicaid, which I knew was a lie. I never returned again, but no big loss because shortly after the clinic shut down for fraud. Big surprise there.

Image taken from (w/o permission):

Visit a Vet and Your Therapist.

Just when you think things are going ok and that you might be able to stay out of the pawn shop just one month, someone goes and kicks your cat.

Granted it wasn’t on purpose, but the cat was kicked all the same.  You see, Mama was in a hurry  to use the can and there are two doors to said can; one being the entry from the hallway, the other opens into the master closet.  As I stated before in one way or another, I am not about to be on the cover of Martha Stewart Living. So when I throw dirty clothes into the master closet for later washing, theoretically, the clothes are supposed to go into a hamper.  Said hamper in said closet is usually overflowing with dirty clothing, however, so I tend to aim, throw, and let my discarded clothing  fall where it may. And this is how the tragedy began.

My mother, in her haste to close the closet door, kicked a pair of black shorts that were obstructing the door. Unfortunately, Babee Dondee was curled up on that pair of shorts. Babee Dondee is small and black except for the occasional white hair here and there, so he was perfectly hid on that  black  background. My mom’s swift kick made hard contact with shorts and cat.

Mama felt terrible, placing the blame on herself, though I think if it is anyone’s fault, it’s mine since I’m a total slob and it was my shorts left there by me. She apologized repeatedly to Dondee and I think he realized Mom didn’t mean to do it to him.

But whoever’s fault it was, it became obvious Dondee needed medical attention, because he still limped this morning and wouldn’t emerge from the closet.  I hate taking my cats to the vet, Dondee especially, since he is absolutely terrified of riding in the van in his carrier. He cries the five minutes it takes to get there, and is an awful thing to hear, especially when you can’t  tell him what is happening in a language he understands.

The vet who saw us is a man in his 50s, whom I distinctly get the feeling likes animals more than humanity, or maybe he thought we meant to do it, and I feel horrified and guilty in his presence. But I think (hope) he knew we didn’t mean to, because I doubt the average person who abuses animals takes them to the vet afterword. I tried not to avert my eyes as much as usual, lest the doctor  think we meant to do it and mistake my social anxiety as guilt.

In the end, nothing was broken, but his nerves in his shoulder were inflamed. He received steroids for that and antibiotics just in case he was bit by something instead of my mom’s kick because his temperature was up.

My mother gave me the joyous task of settling up with the receptionist since I had the money, but I knew it was going to be more than I have. And so it was. I’m too chicken shit to say I don’t have $195.00, so I beckoned my mom over and show her the invoice.  Mama explained the situation and that we’ll be back as soon as possible.  $96.00 down, $99.00 to go. So we take Dondee home, grab up some pawnable merchandise, and back out we go.  Meanwhile, one of the maintenance guys told us the pool passed inspection and will probably open today. Great, figures the damn thing would finally open and I’d be on the……nevermind.

I think the receptionist was pleased we came back as soon as we did, and hopefully, since we brought the money back so fast, that will give us a gold star in character and somehow show them we don’t abuse animals. Lord.

Then, this afternoon was a trip to my therapist. Now my last trip to see her, she kinda sorta almost yelled at me, or was very firm.  Well, at least it worked. Plus my mom, my best friend, virtually everyone on earth, also wanted me to do what I did. So I did and I feel the better for it. Guilt and elation, anger, guilt, then elation again. Some things that are easy  for other people are much harder for me. I meant well, though.

My therapist was glad I went out with Green and that I had no real problem with talking to him or the Hippies, that I didn’t freeze up. She wants me to contact him again.

She isn’t so happy I’m so nervous-acting, I don’t think, because she asked me when I last saw my shrink. It was a couple months ago and she couldn’t up my meds, but thank God, my depression lifted a lot since.  I went from life-sucks-just-let-me-die-or- something  to life-sucks-less. Good enough, man. Party!

She seems to think my little perfectionist  bent  is a tad maladaptive. I can’t stand my inability to do everything just right. If I feel I haven’t done things perfectly, I will go into a rage at myself and go take a nap. One thing goes wrong, EVERYTHING is wrong. If I raise my voice at my mother, I will get angry at myself, feel I’m a failure at life in general….and go to sleep.  Every morning I wake up and promise myself  today I will not make a mistake. Doomed to failure, but I can’t stop. I’ve done this off and on in some form or another since I was a small girl. Nothing I would expect of another person, but I  can’t stand  my lack of measuring up to normalcy.  Oh well.

952 words, I’m shutting up now.

In Which Nervous Nelly is Allowed to Leave the Guilty Party for a Bit

Funny how things happen as though they are answers to your life’s questions. If you are actually reading this and also read my last post, you might be so good as to remember my last post trying to accuse myself of letting bad things happen without stepping in to somehow help. Tonight I got a glimpse to what I actually would do. While I can’t say I actually made any difference, I can at least say I did do something and I’m not as big a douche as I feared.  But let me tell you the story.

Earlier this evening, i had another one of my fits of conscience, allowing my social anxiety to override what I wanted to do. I was in a restaurant restroom  and as I was about to leave, one of the waitresses came in and she seemed to be on a crying jag. I was too afraid to look more than a second for fear of being thought of as staring. Hopefully she just had allergies or a cold. I wanted so bad to ask her if she was ok and if I could do something for her. I at least wanted to say hi, an acknowledgement that I saw her somehow, and I couldn’t move my mouth. Instead I hurried outside.

Later, I am sitting in the living room with my mother just a livin’ when I hear Woman-Across-the-Hall screaming, “HELP ME! SOMEBODY HELP ME!”

Up from the couch and I spring out the door. There is Woman and she says her son’s having a seizure. I ask if she called 911 and she says she had tried but couldn’t get them, so I say I’ll call. So back into the apartment go I and cry out to my mom that Dude is having a seizure, she hadn’t heard Woman screaming, probably asleep in the recliner. So Mom goes over and I call from our phone. It rings 5 or 6 times before I fear I haven’t dialed the number right, so I hang up and call again. That old Public Enemy song is going through my head, “911 is a Joke.” Finally, someone answers (I guess holiday Friday nights are busy nights). I tell her about Dude having a seizure and the apartment number, at first forgetting to tell more of the address. She asks me if he’s conscious and if he’s ever had a seizure before, so I tell her to please hold on. It’s hard to get answers from Woman because she is in a state of total panic, bless her, but after asking loudly everyone I got that he was still seizing, and yes, he had a seizure before. Sure enough, there he was seizing to beat the band next to an overturned chair. My mom was a nurse for 30 something years and had the presence of mind to turn Dude on his side and fend off someone’s old-fashioned remedy of sticking a pen in his mouth.

 Back I go, and then the dispatcher tells me to tell them to just move stuff out of his way, not to force anything into his mouth, and make sure he can breathe. She said I could call back on my cell if I wanted over there but I tell her I will just wait for the ambulance.

By now many of the neighbors have come over to see why Woman is jumping up and down and screaming for help.  A young woman is calling 911 too. I tell everyone the paramedics are on the way.  Now I see he’s up and sitting in a chair. The seizing is over, let the spewing all over the carpet begin. Woman is still in hysterics, but is wiping her son off with a towel. He is disoriented and no doubt frightened from his vomiting, his mother’s ministrations and wailing, and the many eyes looking at him. Woman’s cell phone rings and I ask if I should answer it. Not really getting an answer, I take the initiative. Someone asks for Woman and I ask if she might call him back. So the guy asks if she was able to get 911, that he had called. I tell him yes, that the paramedics are on the way.

After I hang up, I see Dude has got up and is repeating for people to leave him alone. He shakes his mom loose from him, my mom tries to gently take his arm and he shakes her loose too.  “Mom,” I venture as if I know anything, “Let him go.  He’ll be fine in here.” My reasoning is that he’s better off in his home than wandering outside at night addled, plus I fear he will fight my mom if confused.

He locks himself in the bathroom, not the ideal place for a dude apt to seize, but what can ya do? Besides, his mama is still in something like a fit herself, still repeatedly crying out for help and asking, “Oh, why won’t they come?” over and  over, still jumping up and down to the point I almost expect her to begin clucking for good measure.

Then Woman’s other son, the one who looks a bit off, shows up and heads back toward the bathroom.  Woman has eased down to  the hall floor outside the apartment. If it were me I’d have left her sitting there due to her hysterics, hoping she would calm down, but some Samaritan helps her up. Now we hear the sirens and Mom suggests I go out and meet them so they go to the right place. Out I go, fat girl running,  and a fire truck rolls up. I’m about to show the men where to go when I see the would-be patient coming outside, his mom tailing him. “It’s that gentleman there,” I say, pointing. Somehow they wrangle in the wobbly patient and everyone goes inside the building. At the door to the apartment, once the principal characters and paramedics are inside and we are looking in, A-Bit-Off comes to the door, says “We got it from here, thanks,” and closes all of us outside.


All of us neighbors head for our prospective apartments. Once my mom and I are in our home I head to the sink. While in Woman’s apartment I accidently touched a wet  wash rag hanging on a chair at the dining room table. I fear that it was used in cleaning up Dude’s chunks, though Mother assures me it was only used to wipe the poor soul’s forehead.  But I imagine spew particles clinging to that wash cloth. What if that spew has a disease like HIV hid in it? I think. Though I remembered reading vomit doesn’t  have the disease  in significant amounts unless there is visible blood, I decide to take no chances. I wash my hands altogether 4 times, alternating between soap and dishwashing liquid.

Out damn spot! Out I say! Mom stops me though as I look for the Clorox spray because I imagine it’s worth the sting on my hands to be certain of not getting a puke-born pathogen, but Mom assures me I’m ok. Guess I’m pretty “off” too in my way, huh? I’m usually not that much of a germ phobe, though. Usually. 

At least I can reassure myself I won’t let something bad happen to someone if I can help it. Bravo and bully for me, but I am relieved.

(Post started Good Friday….finished Mediocre Monday.)