I’d been feeling subtle chest pains and dizziness for about a week straight. I was too scared to go to the emergency room at the hospital, afraid they would keep me overnight and I’m far too busy for that. Instead, I made an urgent appointment with my doctor.
She ran an electrocardiogram test on my heart and it came back normal. She said the pain and tightness could have been triggered by stress, but I can’t stop thinking about what my dietician said about how restricting weakens the heart muscles. I also learned that my weight had dropped even more since last time.
Doctor also ordered some blood tests to check for anemia and iron levels. I’m no stranger to these types of needles. When I was at my sickest, I had blood tests done nearly every week. I even took a course to learn how to draw blood myself. The point is, normally this is no problem for me.
Not so this time.
I was already feeling dizzy–that’s why I went to the doc in the first place. I sat down in the lab chair and began to feel slightly nauseous. I knew there was a problem when the tech had a hard time finding my vein. She was able to get the needle in, but my arm moved in a strange way and I felt a sharp burning sensation under my skin. I cried out and when asked if I was ok, I said no. The tech took the needle out and I asked if I could come back another day. She had only gotten one vial of blood and she needed four. I knew I would be sick if she continued.
I felt defeated. I felt like a coward, but something also felt very wrong during that test. It’s hard to know if I’m listening to my body or my irrational thoughts anymore. I left in tears; in part from the pain and in part from fear and shame.
I did my best to hold the hot tears back. I at least wanted to leave the doctor’s office with my dignity. My eyes were burning and I could feel my chest heaving as I stood at the checkout desk waiting for my summary (which I was frustrated to learn did not have my weight listed on it, although I know this is probably in my best interest). Total fear and shame washed over me, and the tears only reinforced those feelings.
“Are you okay, honey?” the clerk asked.
I halfway shook my head to say “yes” and promptly left for the restroom.
I was certainly not okay, but that wasn’t her problem. What could she have said or done if I was honest with her? What if I had said no? Part of me wanted to find out. I wanted to cry out and ask for help. I wanted someone to comfort me. But I lied.
Once in the restroom, I let myself cry and catch my breath for a brief moment, wiped my face with a wet paper towel and got to my car as fast as I could. I was not okay. I’m not okay. I’m really, really scared. But no one needs to know that.
Featured image via Gratisography