Telling My Story

I am at the doctor’s office, a new doctor, who will be my new primary care physician, and so I needed share my medical history. To do that and not sound ridiculous is hard, because so much that makes anyone vital and healthy cannot be measure. And so much that has been suffered through is not seen. How does anyone explain, or, what should one divulge? And my heart races, no matter how much I have my mind wrapped around the visit. My blood pressure soars, no matter how calm and peaceful my continence is. I have no anxiety, no fear, no fretting. The staff are pleasant and attentive. But I struggle to put my thoughts into words, and it has nothing to do with intimidation or trepidation. I know myself, and manage my health well. I am proactive and informed. I can speak to a doctor as one accomplished adult to another, giving and expecting mutual respect. But my heart races and my pressure rises, not in an urge of fight or flight. It is only the sheer exhausting effort, to sit under fluorescent lights, in a place with strange noises, with high pitched beeping machines, and bandaid-like smells, and everything, everything in different patterns of gray, so the windows, walls, doors, floors, all scramble together. I cannot find my way back to the front desk, ever, from any doctor’s examination room. I can read the forms, and form the answers, but, for the life of me, cannot get my hand to move the pen in anything better than a large crooked scribble. Why does my body betray me so? Why must everything, everything, everything, be ruled by this invisible challenge of processing? And then I remember the joy I get from so many things that others don’t see and feel and smell and hear and touch, and the heightened human experience of my imagination. I soar more often than I struggle. But the struggle is nothing short of a disability, and I must lean into it. I must embrace it to survive without harm, as if riding a wave rather than fighting it’s power. And so I calm my body with a steadfast mind, and no one will know. They will sense something, as my control appears unusually formal and overpolite. I reach for my purse, to touch a large fur pom pom I have clipped to it. It looks like a cute accessory, but it is a secret aid. I like to keep something fuzzy on hand, if possible, to pet and anchor my senses, so I do not feel shattered like shards of glass in this cubist maze of gray angles and repetitive lines and nerve-sanding patterns, under the lights that make me flutter and even, yes, burp. Some books make me burp, too, and what is that about? So I limit shattering outings whenever to conserve myself for the things That are mine to do. I will be useless the rest of the day, for I have spent all of my reserve simply to manage the sounds and lights and gray bandaidness. I write this so you may understand better, and it is hard to write. This is neurological, not psychological. This is how hypersensitivity works. How can someone who can otherwise works hard, with stamina, competence, and focus, with a stubborn resolve that borders on relentless compulsion be so absolutely floored by a clinical office, a minor run for errands, or a brief encounter with certain stimuli that most people give nary a thought to? I slip into old habits at such times, of thinking of myself as somehow weak in character, ashamed of myself, and only acceptable for the lowest regard. Stop! We all are disabled! We all struggle in invisible ways. And by speaking out for ourselves we give others an opportunity to be human. We get to enjoy their humanity, and they grace us with accommodations for our needs, as we become human by accommodating others. And if we cannot understand each individual invisible struggle, we can choose the most excellent, perfect, all-inclusive accommodation possible, and that is love. When there is nothing else to do, love. And so, as I ride the smelly, ugly, cubist wave of visiting a new doctor, I choose the one thing that makes everything else manageable. I choose love, and my humanity shows, and recognizes the humanity in others. And I win this day, even as it crushes me, for I am human and fine and I am surrounded with divinity, in the divinity of others, even if the divine humans around me do not recognize it in themselves. So they smile at me, because I cannot help but smile warmly at them even if I do not look in their eyes for the correct amount of time. As I ride this cubist wave, hoping I don’t drown. I won’t. I have practiced riding waves for so many, many years. I am a very good swimmer.  

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