Saturday, December 5, 2015

Things I Am Not Afraid Of

To be honest, I have been a bit anxious of late.  The things that I am afraid of have been taking up more space in my mind than usual.  For example:

  • Doctor visits, injections, and medical tests.  I got my flu shot two weeks ago, and then as soon as I got over the side effects from that (fever, aches, fatigue), one week ago, at an annual exam, I got my decennial tetanus vaccine update. My left arm has been continuously sore for two weeks, and has taken to asking me in a quiet voice "Don't you love me anymore?"  I still have to schedule, among other things, a fasting blood test, and my first ever mammogram.  At least a) it's not a prostate inspection, which would be even less pleasant, and b) I am apparently not yet ancient enough to require my first colonoscopy, so yay!
  • Subway train panic.  When I am under stress, my ability to cope with being in an underground tunnel diminishes.  Initially, I only start to sweat when the train stops in the tunnel, even for a few seconds.  Over time, that increases to an adrenaline burst any time the train even slows down to a suspiciously lackadaisical pace.  
  • Mistrust of elevators.  I have gone through phases when I would be willing to walk up many stories in quite unpleasant stairwells in order to avoid getting into an elevator.  I am not at that level now, however on a recent visit to my eye doctor I had the misfortune of riding on the freight elevator, which, for some reason, was the one cab which came for me at the time.  It was banged up inside and poorly lit like a Hollywood torture chamber.  I did get in and ride up to the sixth floor, but not without a fair bit of trepidation.
Things came to a head this week when a friend and colleague of mine returned to work after a surgical procedure.  She stopped in my office to chat, and launched into a description of what she had gone through during her recovery process.  She was only moderately graphic, and I'm usually not too bothered by descriptions of medical stuff, but because she's someone I care about I identified just a little too strongly with her experiences and ended up almost fainting.  She said "You should have stopped me!"  and I said "But people I care about are going to have surgeries and I have to learn to deal with it!"  Then I sat on the floor with an ice pack on the back of my neck for a quarter hour, feeling annoyed with myself.

Therefore, for the sake of my self-confidence, let us consider the list of things which I am not afraid of, as follows:

Spiders.  I have no problem sharing space with a moderate number of spiders.  They are playing for my team. They eat the bad bugs.  I don't consider this to be remarkable; after all, this is Toronto.  We are comfortably outside the range of black widow and brown recluse spiders.  The only tarantulas I ever meet are in pet stores or the zoo.  

This doesn't stop many people I know from freaking out about spiders.  At work I am on call to handle eight-legged visitors.  I'll pick up the spider on a piece of cardboard and escort it outside.  One time, when I didn't have any paper handy, I thought I would just scoot the spider into my palm to carry it out the door, but the arachnophobes watching me wouldn't allow it.  They were very insistent that touching the spider would be dangerous.  I humoured them because I was outnumbered.

Heights.  I mean, regular, change-a-lightbulb heights.  I'm not about to sign up for the CN Tower Edge Walk or anything.  But it's surprising to me how many people will absolutely refuse to climb a perfectly stable step-ladder.  In fact, they don't even want to watch me climb a perfectly stable step-ladder.  This came up when the guy who used to change the light bulbs at my work got a new job.  I thought that surely someone else would volunteer to take his place, but it seems that most of the people I work with are genuinely terrified of the idea.  

I ended up doing a bunch of lightbulb-changing myself.  We do have a handyman, but he's not always in the neighbourhood, and sometimes it seems easier to just haul out the 8-foot ladder and take care of business myself rather than try to reach him on the phone and arrange for him to come in.  One of my colleagues got weak in the knees when he came around a corner and saw me up by the ceiling fiddling with a pot light fixture. Others want to "hold the ladder steady" for me, although it's rock solid without any help.  The triangle is the most stable shape in engineering!  But apparently I am a heroic figure for being willing to climb up there.

Public speaking.  Yes, I do get a bit self-conscious.  Maybe I have a flutter of adrenaline when I first stand up to speak.  But it's not the crippling anxiety that so many people face.  It was Seinfeld who said that at a funeral, most people would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy.  I've never given a eulogy, which would be particularly difficult because of the gravity of the situation, but other types of speeches aren't too bad.

So there you go.  I'm not a totally weak-sauce lily-livered coward.  What feats of bravery can you boast of?


10 comments:

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Vanessa T said...

My poor Sparkle. :( I'm so sorry things have been rough for you, and that these anxieties have been harassing you. I wish I could be there with you, even to just hold your hand to let you know everything will be okay. I know it frustrates you to feel this way.

For what it's worth, the things you are not afraid of are all things that Darc and I ARE afraid of. So, you're like uber-brave to us.

Oh, please reassure your arm, from me, that I know beyond doubt that you still love it, and would hug it if you could. ;)

Seriously, I'll be praying that things de-stress for you, and that you can enjoy the upcoming holidays in confidence. *hugs*

Granny Annie said...

Don't sweat the mammogram. It is not as bad as many might suggest and it is an important exam. Anyone would fear elevators that are in buildings greater than 20 stories high especially if they have seen Die Hard movies. This post is a good reminder that we shouldn't be going into detail about our medical procedures unless the person we are talking to is already in a prone position. LOL

I used to be extremely agoraphobic. It was a miracle that I could leave my home to go to work and crazy that I could make sales calls without making one left turn or driving on the expressway. Getting back in my front door at night was a relief. Then I married Ron, and he took me out the door into a wonderful world where I can fly on airplanes, drive on expressways, cross bridges. live in the country and raise chickens and kill black snakes if necessary. I even name my spiders. Now my one great fear is that for some reason I might have to return to city life and become a banker again.

Jenny Woolf said...

Bravery is doing stuff that scares you, isn't it. Usually things get a bit better with exposure, but it certainly takes time. My list is pretty similar to yours! I try to switch my mind off during these hard things, and stay in a state of "this is not really happening" - which is quite helpful!

DarcKnyt said...

I've been dog-sick all weekend, and I can relate to the way your left arm feels, Spark. I'm sorry things are tough for you right now. But at least you're not having trouble breathing. That's always the favorite part of a cold or flu for me - when it moves into my lungs and sits tight. UGH.

And bully for you on heights and spiders! I'm both an acrophobe AND arachnophobe, so yet another reason for you to be my hero! :)

LL Cool Joe said...

I'm terrified of any medical exam. In fact I'm terrified sitting in the waiting room at the Doctor's surgery even if it's not me seeing the doctor. I'm so scared, that I won't have any tests. I know this will probably shorten my life and I will find I'll have cancer and it's too late to treat, and that's something else I'm terrified about too.

Ginny said...

My "things I'm not afraid of list" is the same as yours. I actually like public speaking. Is that weird. Spiders are harmless around here. Maybe if I lived somewhere with dangerous spiders I'd be more worried.

I'm still kind of afraid of the dark. I over think things and I start wondering what if someone is hiding in here and I can't see them.

I've recently discovered that I'm a bit claustrophobic. I was watched the movie the Descent and I was getting really nervous and freaked out. Same with the movie As Above So Below. The further they went in the more anxious I got. I will not be going underground in tunnels and caves any time soon or ever really.

Lynn said...

I'm afraid of snakes and probably should be. :) I don't like spiders and keep a spider web knocking down stick beside my front door, since they persist in building webs across my door.

Public speaking: I used to be paralyzed by it. When I was freshman in college, I took a 0 on an English 102 assignment because you had to present it to the class. My mother couldn't understand why I would have made a C in that course. "You have always made As!" So when they wanted to promote me to management at BellSouth, I knew I'd have to speak publicly and confided my fears to the operations manager. He sent me to the Dale Carnegie Course, which changed my life. Public speaking is still not my favorite thing, but I do it all the time now and it's fine.

G. B. Miller said...

Yeah, I'm not a fan of public speaking (seems to be a pattern amongst your readers here, except for the spammer at top). In fact, I can be a bit of a weenie. My job requires I do it at least once every two months, so I have no choice but to suck it up and git-r-dun.

I'm not a fan of heights either, but that was probably inflicted on me by my mother, whose also not a fan of heights.

Gia said...

Spiders are monsters though. I got a cat so she'd be my spider killer. (And she usually either kills them or flings them around so there are flying spiders around me. Sigh.)