Anxiety and Medical Fears
Life lessons come in many shapes and sizes. When you have anxiety, chances are most of these lessons are fueled by your own actions. Many of my lessons have had a little bit of humor from above sprinkled in as well. Anxiety does a beautiful job of making every tiny thing seem worse than it actually is. In my case, anxiety causes medical fears that are usually completely baseless and ridiculous. Nothing demonstrates this better than the story of how a stranger with a gun took over my acute needs eye appointment.
The Progression of Anxiety Based Medical Fears
Stage set 1: When putting my makeup on one morning, I noticed a tiny red bump on the inner corner of my eye. Since I am working on putting anxiety behind me, my first response was to say it was nothing and to remind myself Jesus took care of all my physical health problems at the cross. After about 2 days, my response had morphed into a greatly increased knowledge of eye anatomy coupled with statistics on the chances of having eye cancer. Thank you, anxiety. It’s always nice to have medical fears feed off of your anxiety.
Fast forward to 4 days in, and I caved enough to call and make an eye appointment. Anyone with anxiety understands that making a doctor’s appointment alone is a temporary band-aid and provides about 15.3 minutes of relief. Then it’s like scratching a mosquito bite. After that immediate relief, it comes back exponentially worse. Thoughts like “once a doctor diagnoses this, there is no going back” ruminate in your head until it literally feels like it is about to explode. Next step is an invasion of your social interactions, in the form of thoughts like “I wonder if that person has ever had a bump like this on their eye? I have never noticed one when I talk to them. Should I ask them?”
Ugh. By the time I made it to my eye doctor appointment, I’m pretty sure my own eye even gave up on me. I happily distracted myself with concerns about work in the waiting room. At one point I noticed in the extremely long line ahead of me a man with a gun strapped to his hip. I didn’t notice much else until it was just he and I left in the waiting room. At this point, I fixated on his super snappy dress shoes complete with a tassel (are tassels a thing again?). By the time he was finally called back, I was no longer anxious. My anxiety about my medical fears had been replaced with mind numbing irritation at waiting an hour for an eye doctor. Who knew there were this many eye needs in my community?!
I should have paid better attention to this man. In fact, I should have gotten his name and number. In the long run, it may have helped my eye doctor pay closer attention to my needs. When this man walked out, I noticed my younger eye doctor and her gaggle of nurses turning bright red and then running into the office giggling. I also noticed their remarkably loud comments about how good looking he was and the size of his gun. Really, ladies? By the time I was called in, I was so irritated I’m pretty sure my head turned around backwards at least twice. I wanted to shout “THIS IS A MEDICAL CLINIC” at the top of my lungs but opted against it.
The biggest moral of this story is the results of my exam – which was nothing. After poking and prodding at my eye, and shining what had to be a black market light into if for about 10 minutes, the eye doctor asked what bump I was talking about. My first thought was “do I have to be tall, blond, and have a big gun for you to see it?” However, somehow I tempered my inner ability to be snarky. After trying a couple of times to point my bump out to her, and having my eye examined in minute detail by not one but two people, I finally gave up. By that time, I was convinced of God’s sense of humor and His gentle way of correcting my irrational fear. I was even able to crack jokes with the doctor (despite my loss of respect for someone with that much knowledge, who clearly gets distracted by life just like the rest of us).
For those of you with anxiety, feel free to use this lesson as a metaphor for your own struggles with medical issues. Medical issues are an all-star player on the field of anxiety. I know the pain and exhaustion that goes along with the false diagnoses we give ourselves. Even when I am doing better and making forward progress, I guess this is a great reminder. I need to stay focused on God, or I will eventually get sidetracked by some irrational fear or worry.
At least now I know what the inner corner of my eye is called (it’s a caruncle, people). I also know to always bring a gun to every eye appointment, so I can at least make friends with the most important people in the waiting room.