Thursday, March 3, 2011

Trying To Be Calm

In twelve hours I'll be leaving Lloyd to drive to Tallahassee to go to the new Nurse Practitioner I think I want to see. And as laid-back a situation as this looks to be, I am anxious as hell.
Okay. Actually I'm doing okay just now as I took an Ativan. I do have a bit of a stash provided by someone who shall remain nameless because yes, it's illegal but I take maybe one a month and so I don't feel like I am abusing them in any way at all.
I tried tonight, just taking a half and that didn't touch it so I took the other half and thankfully, I am okay now. Feeling a bit odd, but okay.

When I was going through the worst anxiety of my life I asked the NP I was seeing at my doctor's practice if she could give me anything for the truly worst moments and she offered up five Ativan. Five. The tiny ones. And I was in tears in her office, asking her for help.
I held those things close to my chest and only used them when I thought I might die.


I really wish I could figure out why going to the doctor makes me so horribly anxious. As I have said before, I remember feeling this way from my earliest memories. Even going to a doctor's appointment for my mother made me feel as if I might die- what I now realize was a sort of child-panic attack. What had happened? Was it merely the flu shots I used to get? I don't know. I do know those shots traumatized me to no end and it took the doctor, my mother, and the nurse to hold me down. So maybe that was it. I don't know.

But I do know that I have avoided going to the doctor for as long as I can remember. Look- I had three babies at home with no drugs, one of them weighing over ten pounds, just to avoid the hospital. Well, that was one of the reasons. One of many, but it certainly indicates that I will do almost anything to get out of a hospital or doctor visit.
I went to all my prenatal appointments with my babies. First with doctors, then with a midwife, and that was okay. I didn't get the anxiety so badly then. But somehow, that was different. That was for the baby. At least, that's how I looked at it. And I felt so healthy and strong when I was pregnant and indeed, I was.
And the births were all beautiful and didn't seem to be medical events at all, despite how our culture views childbirth, and one of my greatest blessings is those home births. I am not even kidding you in the least. They were and are the best memories of my life along with that of my first child, who, even though he ended up being born in the hospital, I stayed at home in labor with for over 24 hours before I went to the hospital where I was only there for less than an hour before he was born and came home a few hours afterward so it was not a prolonged stay at all.

So here I am, a woman of fifty-six who literally almost passes out (and I have never passed out in my life) at the idea of going into a doctor's office, or in this case, a Nurse Practitioner's office, even one with the name of "Integrated Care," and it makes me feel so incredibly stupid and weak. Hell, I went to four years of nursing school and am licensed to this day! And that doesn't help a bit.
I think it might even make it worse.

I hate anxiety. Like depression it robs me of the fullness of my life. I'm not saying that I think every moment of my life should be filled with joy and wonder. That ain't even possible and I know it. It's just that those two things- anxiety and depression- take every bit of possible enjoyment out of life and replace it with a thick gray blanket of despair and fear. And trying to deal with them with logic is like trying to deal with a wildfire with a child's spray gun.

Well. I'll get through tomorrow morning and then I'm going to the hair dresser and that's not bad at all. No anxiety about that. And then a few hours later I'll be onstage again and that doesn't stress me out so much either. I mean, I get nervous but that's normal and can be good for the performance. I am completely aware of the difference between normal nervousness and irrational and paralyzing anxiety. Anyone who has experienced it can too. There is no comparison. One is a slightly pissed off house cat, the other a lion focused on you with teeth bared and claws extended, no help anywhere in sight.

Last night, when the anxiety had already begun, I went to the bookshelf and took out a Larry McMurtry book which I have only read once so for me, it's almost like reading it anew. It's called Rhino Ranch, and sure enough the very plain writing of McMurtry soothed me and I fell into his world of cowboys with sex problems and oil men with wife problems and breakfast at the Dairy Queen in Thalia, Texas, and I relaxed and could go to sleep.

Here's a bit of dialogue and I think that no one in this world does dialogue like McMurtry. It's between an old cowboy named Boyd and an old oil worker named Bobby Lee:

"Ever slept with a millionairess?" he asked- it was an abrupt change of subject.
"Not only have I never slept with a millionairess," Bobby Lee said, "I've never slept with a woman who wasn't several hundred dollars in debt, which of course she expected me to take care of for her."
Boyd didn't respond.
"And being the generous soul women seem to know me to be, I always do take care of it, ever damn time."
Boyd Cotton continued to hold his peace.
"And then what happened?" Bobby Lee continued before answering his own question. "Two of the women ran off with hardened criminals and the third had the bad manners to shoot me in the stomach, which brought me to the very brink of death."
"I may have wise to mainly stick to horses," Boyd observed.

There is not one thing here that causes me to panic or have bad associations or anything at all. In fact, because this is the fifth (I believe) in the series about the people of Thalia, Texas, I know Bobby Lee well and I love him despite his weakness for women who will have sex with him, despite the fact that he only has one testicle. I know what the Diary Queen looks like and I know they have chicken-fried steak and biscuits for breakfast. I know the main character, Duane, and have seen him through high school and into marriage and work and having a huge, uncontrollable family and the death of his wife.
Going back to Thalia is like going back home and it's exactly what I need right now.

Having Owen here today was helpful, too, and Jessie was here too and even watched him for a good while so that I could take a nap. My babies. My grandbaby. I want to have a life where I am sane enough to be there for them and with them, fully and completely. And with my husband too.

Here is Owen, helping to cook:

He is not a clean-as-you-go kind of guy. No. He's more of a make-a-huge-mess-as-you-go type of cook. But he can stir water like nobody's business.

And here are he and Jessie as she was leaving. He was holding a wire whisk but you can't see it.

And it's quiet and an hour later, now, and time for bed.
I'll get up in the morning and get ready and go to that NP. I don't even think I need an exam because I had one four months ago. And maybe- just maybe- this can be the beginning of me feeling as if I am in control of a situation which makes me feel so out of control.

I am hoping.

I have at least made a change and it may not be the right one, or it may indeed be the right one for me.
We shall see.

And life shall go on and I'll take Rhino Ranch to the appointment with me so that I have the totem of this soothing book to hold solidly in my hand, a reminder of the fact that life can be very hard and yet, somehow works out and that which looks insurmountable may not be in the least.


  1. Hope you make a good connection with the NP in the AM.

  2. I sincerely hope the trip goes well and they give you the help and answers you need. Right now I am on Effexor for my anxiety and it really has helped me a lot. I also take Valium when I really feel a panic attack coming on but so far the Effexor has done its job. Anyway enough about me ... good luck and take care. Best wishes Ms. Moon.

  3. Good luck with the doc. Ativan can work miracles. Sorry about the anxiety. It's truly the shits and sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to it. Ha. I'm one year older than you are!
    Old Rebecca

  4. Is that the series that started with The Last Picture Show?

    Hope the appointment goes well.

  5. Crap that boy is adorable! :)

    Wishing you well tomorrow, Ms. Moon. I am trying to understand why that nurse practitioner didn't offer you something more than five Ativan that time you were in tears and going through so much. Seems there could have been something else she could have done for you to make you feel better. :(

  6. Good luck, mama! Keep me updated.

  7. You know I share those same anxieties when it comes to the doctor. I'll be thinking of you in the morning. I'm hoping all the anxiety you're going through tonight will pay off tomorrow.
    Hugs to you Ms. Moon

  8. Oh, man oh man. I don't have anxiety like you do and I despise the whole doctor business so I have great, great sympathy for you. I am so sorry and hope that it all goes well tomorrow. I find that acknowledging the shit and not fighting it or judging it or yourself is helpful. I hope you can do that, beautiful woman.

  9. Good luck. It'll be over soon. xx

  10. big hug...lovely'll be fine...(useless thing to say but I'm sure it's true)...focus on the things you have lined up to do AFTER the appointment.


  11. I think it is logical to be afraid of the "medical system" as it is these days, particularly in the US. Just because your attitude is not the norm, does not make it an unreasonable response. Especially given your childhood flu shot memory.

    Glad you are taking a good book as a soother this morning. I am wishing you a good visit with the NP.
    x0 N2

  12. I hope that all will be well. I was thinking as I read this that you must have those "female" check ups. I have no anxiety about hospitals, other than I would rather not have to go to one. Gotten through this recent stuff without meds and slept deeply last night on the couch. Today is a different day. I like having a chance to start a brand new day.

  13. So good to be back and read your words, Ms Moon, even if they are the words of the struggle of which so many of us contend.

    That was a lot of ofs.

    Love you much. Hope the NP has something good to offer.


  14. I can relate to the anxiety with doctors (and dentists and accountants). I hate to be examined. I think because it feels a lot like being violated.

  15. I love this post, Mary. It's odd, but this morning, when I was such a damn depressed mess, I pulled a Vonnegut book off the shelf and began reading in the bath tub. Whenever I feel lost in the world, I pick up Vonnegut. He is familiar and soothing and damn fine company. I don't think there is anything Kurt ever said that I have disagreed with. He just says it so much better than I ever could, and it is a comfort and a blessing to read his words.

    I love you! Hope the appt. goes as easily and well as it possibly can.


  16. Also, I don't know why they were so stingy with the Ativan. My doc told me that she likes it because it has such a low rate of addiction.

  17. Ms. Moon,
    You are as sane as they get; you just think about it more than the average person. Some people go to great lengths to turn off the thinking and that doesn't benefit anyone. Thanks for a voice of sanity in the veritable wilderness.

  18. A- I think she's going to be fine. We're talking about alternative therapies for stuff.

    Mr. Shife- Thanks so much, you sweet daddy-man.

    Radish King- Well, you may be older but I'm...younger?
    At our age, what's one year?

    Stephanie- Indeed it is!

    Nicol- Not real compassionate, those people.

    DTG- Called and left you a message, honey-son.

    Mel's Way- At least it's done now. Phew.

    Elizabeth- I try, honey. Dang. I do. Thank-you so much.

    Jo- Indeed!

    Screamish- I love hugs. Thank-you.

    N2- I does help to remember that the American Way is not necessarily the RIGHT way.

    Syd- So true. All true. I'm proud of you, boy, for taking care under such circumstances.

    Mia- I cannot believe you are a CHILD! Of sorts. Obviously not in wisdom. I liked this NP although I know I would love your mother better. If she only did adults...
    And you guys lived nearby. Oh, how happy that would make me!

    Jeannie- My comment to you is the next post. Thank-you.

    Ms. Bastard-Beloved- Kurt soothes you, Larry soothes me. We are lucky to have our go-to guys to read, aren't we? And I am lucky to have you.

    Scott- Whoever you are, I love what you tell me. Thanks.

  19. Dear Ms Moon, depression and anxiety are terrible things. I'm not frightened of being examined but I'm terrified of having a baby. And you've had three. At home! You're amazing xx

    PS. Rhino Ranch sounds great


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