Dreading Seeing the Doctor

I can’t recall a time that I’ve been on an infamous “cancellation list” for a doctor and actually received a call for an available appointment sooner than my scheduled visit. Because I’m wary of the existence of these lists, when I really need to get in to see a provider, I call every few days and check for a cancelation. I find it hard to believe that so few people have last minute issues come up that force them to reschedule. Perhaps this skepticism is a product of my own chronic illness, which causes frequent unpredictable conflicts with plans, and regular people are much more reliable.

Needless to say, yesterday, I received a call about a cancellation with the arthritis specialist that I had to reschedule after a sudden anaphylactic reaction waylaid my plans. This opening was highly attractive because my ankle has been bothering me and my currently scheduled appointment is still seven weeks away. Fortunately, Ben was able to get the morning off to take me approved, so in a few hours, if all goes to plan, he will bring me to see this rheumatologist. I’m a little anxious to meet the new doctor and for the treatment and prognosis he suggests, but I will try to stay calm and be a strong advocate for my needs.

Something about receiving the call spurred me to check in with other providers who I’m slated to see some weeks or months away. At the suggestion of a close friend and mentor, I have plans to see an integrative medicine doctor about potential chronic Lyme or other issues. When I scheduled that appointment, he had about a two-month wait time, but luck was with me yesterday, because when I inquired about any sooner openings, the receptionist found an availability for this coming Monday! I’m also scheduled to see the ankle surgeon on Tuesday, so it’ll be a whirlwind of exhausting, but hopefully helpful, appointments. My goal is to be brave and push through the stress and hassle of attending all of them. I really need to investigate further what’s going on with me physically instead of settling for allowing the feeling of being unwell to be my normal and acceptable way of feeling. I tend to bury my head and just suck it up, adopting the attitude that “it is what it is.” Well it is, but maybe in part because I don’t relentlessly pursue alternative answers. A truer saying would be “it is what it is because you seem content to accept it as is; it could be better.”

The truth is that part of me is afraid to get a real answer that I can’t handle or that signals an unfavorable prognosis. I’ve heard of imagined situations where someone is offered the ability to “see” his or her future (for example, learning how and when death will occur). Of course, this is a fantastical “would you or wouldn’t you?” type of scenario, but should it be possible, I’d opt to live my life out as it unfolds and not become privy to my eventual future. For one, it would take the joy and excitement out of living in the moment and experiencing the magic of life unfold like a mystery, but also because I wouldn’t want the fear of knowing what will happen to me and when to burden me with feelings of dread or doom. I guess I wouldn’t want the knowledge of the end of the story to influence the way I lived the story or felt along the journey.

I think a small piece of my reservations about seeing every specialist I can possibly find until I feel like all stones have been fully turned over is that I don’t want a very bad piece of news to be found under one of those still unturned stones. I’d rather live in peaceful ignorance if it keeps me feeling confident that I’m okay. I’m sure this is a controversial, if not downright objectionable, statement to some, but it’s simply an honest confession. I’ll try to change this as I continue maturing; however, as of now, it’s part of my reality.

For today, I’ll start with where I am. I’m going to the arthritis specialist and will do my best to effectively communicate the extent and limitations of my current pain level. I’ll put work on the back burner instead of harbor my usual impatient mindset to get back to it as soon as possible, at the expense of fully taking advantage of time with the doctor. I’ll put my upcoming appointments out of my mind, so that extra anxiety over those doesn’t further bleed into my stress about today’s visit. Instead, I’ll harness the feeling that I’ve “won” by scoring an elusive cancelation spot and focus on the fact that all doctors should have my best interest in mind. The appointment will be fine.

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