A Band Aid, Partial Discovery
I put the Bronco in first gear and began a 50 mile drive to the clinic. As I drove, the road looked like a multitude of roads trying to merge into one. The pavement appeared to be moving and all I could do was to concentrate on where the road might be. I’m certain the only way I made it to the clinic was the fact that I had driven those roads a countless number of times and the route was somehow engrained in me. That and divine intervention.
I tried to stay off the main freeway on my way to the clinic using as many back roads and low traffic streets I could recall. However, from where I lived, the freeway was the route to take. Still today, I cannot believe I made it to the clinic, and back, without hurting myself or worse yet, someone else. All I can say is that I was seriously driven by survival.
Finally after what felt like slow motion forever, I made it to the clinic parking lot. Even after what my mind and body went through to get there my determination to get into the clinic remained intact. I slid out of the Bronco and worked my way to the clinic door by hanging on to whatever I could reach, cars, railings, trees, or the nothing that pushed me to the appointment desk. I made it. Then, as I stood there hanging on to the counter, my complete body began to shake from the drive and not knowing what was wrong with me. I could no longer hold back the tears of what I just experienced. I could barely say my name to check in, I was a flood of fear.
I felt my determination further diluted when the receptionist, in a daily routine like instruction, told me to take a place in the waiting room. I looked at her with pleading eyes wondering how it was that she couldn’t see how difficult it was for me to walk. In a place where I was holding some hope, no assistance was offered to get me to a chair, I didn’t ask either so, I continued on my own. In dread and tears I turned around, placed my back against the receptionist counter, stopped in my tracks and waited for the room to stop moving so I could map out a way to get myself to a chair. Not feeling a connection to anything, not even the floor, with my head bobbing up and down and sideways, pausing only to try to see through a blur of color and forms, made it to a seat and waited for my name to be called. I felt the stares of other patients gathered upon me like a spotlight. This was my first experience of stares by others, the first of many more to come…
Waiting was terrifying torture. I kept a white knuckled grip on my chair to keep myself from falling out of the seat. I sat stiffly with my body crammed against the back of the chair and stared at the floor in an attempt to stop things in the room from moving and bouncing around. When people walked in front of me their movement triggered a lost in space feeling and I almost fell from my chair. I closed my eyes in an attempt to stop that movement, to hide the bounce and blur and even with the grip I had on the chair, my whole body flailed as if I had not a bone or muscle in it. I had to keep my eyes open, I had to keep myself in a place I so desperately wanted to out of.
Finally my name was called. I let go of one side of the chair, grabbed the other with both hands, and sideways I worked my way to a wobbly standing mess. I stood there to work on another map to get where I needed to go. Again I used touch, this time with my legs against empty chairs but that only worked on the empty ones. There were other patients scattered in the row I was trying to navigate. Some reached up to help, others backed away. I felt like I was on a pitiful display. Finally, I reached the end of the row and stopped. With what had to have been a look of desperation of my face I reached out to the nurse, grabbed her and held on for dear life. Together we walked in my unsteady, drunken like, and unsure path to an examination room.
Once in the exam room the nurse asked why was I was there to see the doctor. I almost blew up thinking how she could not see why I was there! I mean, after all she had me hanging off her body to get me to the exam room. I just couldn’t comprehend this, however, I played along with procedure and told her that I recently had surgery, developed an infection, was in the hospital, and was on antibiotics and that that morning I woke up as I was presenting myself to her now. The nurse took my temperature, my blood pressure and wrote down my explanations and said the doctor will be in soon. Then she left me alone in the same white knuckled position I held in the waiting area. I couldn’t move.
After what seemed like hours, the doctor came in, examined me and gave his determination that I must have an ear infection and that was causing me to feel “dizzy”. I explained to him that it wasn’t “dizziness” I felt but rather a lack of being able to sense where I was in space, of being disconnected. I questioned his diagnosis of an infection because of all the antibiotics I had been on. He held his position and I was sent off with a prescription for Meclizine, a motion sickness medication and suppressant of the vestibular system. Take note – another milepost to the future… I filled the prescription at the clinic and reversed my way into another slow motion drive back home.
Mixed among the swirling, bouncing and blurring of everything around me, was an unshakable sense of impending doom, a feeling that my life was never going to be the same again.