Friday, 1 February 2013

In Which I See A Doctor

When I meet new people -- especially older people, professional people, and especially people in offices -- I get stressed.  I cannot make eye contact.  It's not like how I normally prefer not to make eye contact or how often forget to.  When I'm in an office with someone I'm not comfortable with, my whole head and neck swing violently in the other direction.  And my hands shake and my fingers twist together into painful knots.  I tend to lift my legs at the knees and slam them back down into the floor, not fully rocking but very clearly on that path.  When I get stressed, I cannot communicate clearly.  In my brain, I know exactly what I want to say and how I want to be heard, but suddenly I find myself fishing for words in spite of my once-astounding vocabulary.  I speak with a new cadence when confronted with strangers in these intensely one-on-one situations.  My voice is higher and my words are emphasized differently.  It's so hard to explain, but the best description I have is to say that normally, I speak kind of like Niles on the classic American sitcom Frasier (one of my favorite television comedies), but when I am in a doctor's office or similar scenario, I speak like an over-stimulated four-year-old trying to explain something very passionately but without the sensible diction and in a manner that is so strewn and disorganized that it's impossible to decipher his or her true meaning.
I had an appointment with a doctor yesterday.  I had never met this doctor before and I was not thrilled to meet him because doctors tend not to understand me.  But I needed some prescription renewals and Wal-Mart wouldn't authorize any more refills until I had another scrip from a physician.  So I phoned the physician's office and made an appointment.
When he walked in, he asked what I wanted.
I said that I just needed the prescriptions.
And then came the part I dread the most: the "small talk."
I started crying during small talk.  I started crying because I didn't understand.  It is uncomfortable for me when I do not know what is happening, and maybe I should know what's happening when a new doctor asks me seemingly unimportant questions, but for whatever reason, it is incredibly stressful for me.  I pulled my feet up on the chair, hugged my knees, banged my head back and forth violently, and flapped my hands into my arms so hard that actually have a bruise forming today, between my elbow and my shoulder, on my left arm.
I think the doctor was uncomfortable.  I only say that in retrospect because, as I recreate my body postures in order to explain them correctly, I'm noticing that these actions are not necessarily "normal" or acceptable in the complex social word we live in.
The doctor moved on.  He talked about my prescriptions.  Usually, I don't have questions, but one of my medications has recently changed and I wanted to talk about it.  However, I clearly did not articulate this well enough to him because even though I thought I had relayed it clearly, he simply handed me a scrip and told me that he could see I was done.
This made me cry harder.  Miscommunication scares me.  This is a simple statement but one that I am only now starting to realize.  I am afraid of being misunderstood.  I am afraid that even when I explain something perfectly, the listener still has the opportunity to interpret what I have said in his or her own way.  I am terrified that someone will hear me speak but not understand my meaning.
So I cried.  I cried and I shook my neck hard to the left as I tend to when I'm worried.
In all, what should have been a five-minute appointment became a forty-minute emotional rollercoaster which didn't even answer the questions I had about my new prescription.
But now I'm afraid to go back.
I hate losing control, and in situations like that, I don't feel like myself.  When there are so many triggers and so many scary things all in the same vicinity, it's frightening to me.  And now I'm home, looking at my bottle of new pills, wondering when I'll get the courage to go back to the doctor and ask the questions I need to ask.