Oh what a day….
Even though my anxiety is under control now, that is not to say that it doesn’t still impact my life. I still have fears. I will always have fears. I am really just a great big coward who spends my life with the optimistic angel on one shoulder telling the pessimistic devil on my other shoulder to pipe down.
I have fears of not getting enough sleep, of driving without somebody with me, of getting shaky because my blood sugar is low, and of elevators – and that is just to name a few. I refuse to let these fears interfere with my daily life but lets just say that they can make my days a bit “challenging”.
The other day I had to go pick up my husband from his colonoscopy, and I had gotten horrible sleep the night before because I knew that I was going to have to get up early for it. (Early for me is anything before 1:00 pm by the way. It’s summer break and I am a night owl, and I have sucked everybody in my house into a second shift life.) He had a ride to drop him off for the appointment early that morning, but it was up to me to go pick him up when he was done. This may not seem like such a big deal but I am one of those people that if I HAVE to get up early, I will NOT sleep the night before – too much pressure. Plus, the fact that I was so nervous knowing that I was going to have to drive down the highway by myself with all the kids didn’t help my insomnia any. So I got hardly any sleep, and then to make matters worse, the doctor’s office called an hour EARLY to tell me he was done and that I had to come get him within the hour.
I was in such a deep sleep when the phone rang, and my voice always gets really gravelly first thing in the morning and the nurse said “Oh you sound terrible…that is some bad laryngitis you have.” I just went along with it because I didn’t want her to know I was just waking up and that we were all still in bed at eleven o’clock in the morning. So I said “Yeah, I’m feeling terrible today”, and mumbled something else, and then that is when she informed me that I had to get down there pronto and pick up my husband.
Oh how I groaned on the inside. Ugh.
I had one hour to get five kids up, get them dressed, get myself dressed and get down to the doctor’s office which was half an hour away.
After doing only the absolutely vital hygienic necessities to myself, and managing to spend a few much needed moments with my MONQ diffuser, I dragged the kids out out of bed, dressed them in whatever clothes happened to be laying on their bedroom floor and got them loaded into the van. I tossed a jumbo box of PopTarts in the back seat, turned on a movie for them to watch and we were on our way. I knew I looked like a complete hag but I really didn’t care. I just wanted to get this over with.
The drive downtown wasn’t so bad. I actually did pretty good I think, all things considered. Thankfully I had so much adrenaline coursing through my veins that fatigue wasn’t a problem despite the fact that I didn’t have time to make myself any coffee. I distracted myself with the radio and just didn’t let myself think about much of anything. I was starving though. I didn’t have time to get myself anything to eat and when I don’t eat it makes me feel really hollow and anxious and keyed up……but I got through it. It wasn’t fun, but I did it. I just kept reminding myself that on the way home, my husband wouldn’t be able to drive, but at least he would be able to talk to me and distract me and help me stay calm.
I finally got to the medical building. I was only about ten minutes late, which most people who know me would consider as my arriving “early”. I got all the kids out of the van, which is a lot like unloading the clown car at the circus – it seems like a never ending stream of kids. Then we walked into the building and I looked at the directory to find out which floor this doctor’s office is on and come to find out…..its on the freaking FIFTH FLOOR.
I groaned for the second time that day, only this time it wasn’t on the inside.
The dreaded elevator.
I loathe elevators. I have had claustrophobia since I was a teen-ager.
I thought “Are you kidding me? Really???”
I seriously debated whether or not to drag all my kids up those 5 flights of stairs, and then I decided to man up and take the elevator. So I took a deep breath and pushed the button and prepared myself to die. To make matters worse, 2 of my kids are a bit claustrophobic and I couldn’t let them see me scared so I had to pretend that I just love, love, love elevators. On the ride up, I don’t know how many times I forced myself to smile and say “Isn’t this FUN?!?!” And of course it was one of those elevators that once it gets to the floor, it pauses for about 10 full seconds before the door opens. I was getting ready to claw my way out of that elevator when the door finally opened. But finally it did, thank the Lord.
By then, I was really shaking, and my heart was pounding out of my chest, but I kept my game face on because I knew my kids were with me and of course, when you have anxiety, you just have to fake it till you make it sometimes. So we finally found the office and I faked every bit of calm and composure I could as I asked for my husband, and it was the same person who had called to tell me to come pick him up. And she said “Oh, your voice is better! What did you use?”
I said “Huh?”….and then I remembered I was supposed to be sick and I said “Ohhh….. just some tea with honey.”
And she says “Oh, I will have to try that sometime, that really fixed you right up!” Ugh.
She goes to get him and they wheel him out to me in a wheelchair and he is like the guy from Weekend at Bernie’s.…only slightly more conscious. He is limp as can be and he keeps nodding off every few seconds and I am thinking, “What am I supposed to do with THAT?”
All I could think was that I had no clue how I was going to get him in the van. But I still sit there and try to look my most “wifely and responsible” while she is explaining his aftercare instructions, (what were those again?) but on the inside all I am thinking is “Forget him! He is so out of it he doesn’t even know his own name right now! I am the one who needs some aftercare….do you have an EKG machine here somewhere, because I am seriously dying here!”
But I just faked it and smiled and nodded and then thank goodness she said she would escort him down to the lobby, so I thought “Well, that’s good. At least if we get stuck on the elevator going down…there will be a medical professional there to stop me from dying.” (Dying is my end scenario in every scary situation I am in, in case you haven’t noticed.)
But then we all get to the elevator…me, my five kids, my husband in the wheelchair and the nurse, and then the nurse turns to me when the elevator comes and says “OK, we’ll meet you down there!”.
“Huh? What?”, I thought. “You mean I don’t get to ride with you guys?”
There is no way she didn’t see my crestfallen expression. But apparently she thought that darn wheelchair was going to take up too much room. I wanted to tell her that I could put 2 or 3 kids on daddy’s lap….its not like he would even notice…come to think of it, was he even still breathing? “Oh well”, I thought. The nurse didn’t seem concerned about him, so I just put that on the back burner until I figured out how I was going to get downstairs. I couldn’t make everybody take the stairs after I had just told the kids how much I “loved” elevators. Damn. I finally had to accept that I was going down the same way I got up there, and I just hung my head and groaned again as the kids waved goodbye to their limp daddy as the elevator doors shut.
Thankfully, we did survive the elevator ride back down and Bernie was able to come alive long enough for me to shove him in the van. Somehow I got my husband home and his tests all came back great, and he is healthy, so all is good.
As I told my husband this story later, he looked at me and said, “Well why didn’t you just let me drive home if it was that bad?”
Silly me….I thought he was joking.
But he wasn’t. He was dead serious.
I said “Hey, do the words “Taco Bell drive-thru” and “vacuum-clean-up of massive amounts of lettuce and cheese on the van floor” mean anything to you?
And he said “What are you talking about?” And I said “Exactly. That is what was going on during the trip home while you were slumped over in the front seat. But I’m sure you would have been just fine driving us home.”
He still insisted he could have done it though. I just shook my head and rolled my eyes.
The point of all this is to remind us all that crappy days are inevitable.
I hadn’t had a really bad anxiety day in a long, long time…but the other day was the day it happened again, and it is going to happen to all of us again throughout our lives.
And I survived and I will survive next time and so will all of you when you get your super bad days. And they actually are pretty funny once they are over with! Well you probably had to be there to appreciate the humor in my day but looking back, it really was pretty funny.
Especially since my 4 year old son is going through a princess phase and he LOVES to dress up like Elsa from Frozen. So I am holding his hand walking him through the office while all this stuff is going on, and he has his blanket draped over his head for his “hair”, and my daughters sequin skirt and sparkly shirt on. If you want a visual…just think ET when he had the blonde wig and girl clothes on. Very similar. And the nurse said “Oh, what is he all dressed up for?”, in a tone that implied that she thought it was some kind of costume day at pre-school.
I said “Oh no reason, this is just what he likes to wear. ”
The look on her face was priceless. I should have told her he would have had his pink heels on except I think they are too slippery to wear outside.
Do you use humor to cope with your anxiety? Here is an article from Psychology Today that explains why it might be a good idea.
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