Anxiety at the Doctor (episode 1 million)

I thought I was better. You guys, I called the dermatologist (myself!), I transferred my records to another highly recommended doc, I made a appointment with the gynecologist (myself!) and I transferred those records from the not-so-nice lady of before, I scheduled and went to a mammogram and I did all of these things without once crying. I consider this a major win.

I did. I do. But still.

The mammogram turned up questionable. Just a small lump, they said. Most likely a cyst.  But let’s have the ultrasound just in case. And so I scheduled that appointment (myself!*) and I went. I’ve been running on the solid side of sane for a long time now, grief over my father aside, and I was pretty sure I had this in the bag. After all, the gyno isn’t until NEXT week and I’m definitely medicating for that one, given my history of panicking.

Speaking of…

I was perky heading in. I had some trepidation about all the really angry ladies in the waiting room but I got called in and seen almost immediately. I knew what the gown would look like (it’s a very nice jackety thing) and I was taken straight to a room. But there was the table. And there was the crinkly paper. But I sat. And I made small talk. And I was so proud of myself.


The radiologist was a man. I don’t have any problems with this but perhaps my subconscious has other feelings. Even though he didn’t have the white coat on. I felt my heart speed up and I thought it would be okay. It was not. First of all, an ultrasound of your breast hurts. Also hurting, my palms, since the nails I should have trimmed were digging deep. Again though, I thought it would be okay. I breathed. I found a spot on the ceiling to focus. And then I started to shake. I trembled until the screen couldn’t capture a clear image anymore. And the world dimmed out on the edges. I don’t think I passed out. Noticeably.

But they did notice.

And they put the table up and were very kind and solicitous. And I had warned them after all, but no one really believes that it’s a thing and they figure She’s nervous. Her boob is hanging out. Of course she is. But inside my brain there is actually no thinking. There’s no worrying about my nakedness, no fear of the results, no apprehension. There is only a wall of static that either gets noisier or brighter or darker or quieter but there’s no telling which. And today? It was deafening.

But I noticed.

I was making them really nervous. In fact, when the doctor tried to shake my hand and I didn’t because my white knuckles had locked them into place, she paled. And when she delivered the diagnosis – just a cyst, all clear – she was kind, and concerned, and perhaps the most straightforward doctor I’ve ever met but still, she looked like she was quaking a bit herself. The radiologist had one hand on his phone. The tech had her eye on the box of Kleenex.

I didn’t know that my anxiety made it harder on them. I wish I could stop it. I do. And I would have warned them, except everything had been going so well. And now my lips are numb and the world is still a little hazy but I have to pick up my wife and she will want me to talk and all I can say is I swear it’s not my fault. Even though I feel like it is. And I’m so sorry.

Thank you for listening. I promise to pull it together shortly.

*I do not call doctors, that’s how bad the anxiety can be. But I did. Myself!




7 Responses

  1. You got through it and you’re okay! You are one strong lady, doubly so for doing all that while lugging the burden of anxiety. Yay you!

  2. ❤ ❤ ❤ No shame, not ever. But I understand – I used to faint whenever blood was involved and it was embarassing as all else because there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
    Brains are so, so weird. I wish that more people understood that – doctors especially. I hope you're taking the rest of the day to recover and care for yourself.

  3. Aw, I’d just like to give you a hug. I have doctor anxiety too, so it’s a huge accomplishment that you made these appointments.

  4. ❤ It's over! Mad props for all of the phone calls!

  5. I just want to give a hug too. When we went to get J’s HSG and the ONLY dr in the building that could do it was a man, she had a similar response. She did it, but it was awful. You are a strong woman.

  6. Oh Meridith. You did good. So good.

  7. Glad it was just a cyst. My spouse has really bad medical related anxiety too and avoids all doctor appointments- just going with me to my ob appointments during my last pregnancy triggered a lot for her. It’s hard, even though I am witness to it, I can’t imagine what it’s like. It just shows your strength to face it, even if it doesn’t feel that way.

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