I had my annual wellness visit this past week.
Any kind of doctor visit is triggering for me. But annual exams have more triggers than other kinds of exams.
Anxiety comes from traveling to and from the doctor’s office, making time during the work day to go to the appointment, and meeting (sometimes) new people who will be working on my body.
Body memories come back throughout the rest of the exam and sometimes cause problems getting my vitals, etc. Certain tests can’t be administered either. Not because I don’t want them, but because of how my body automatically reacts (based on past experience) to the exam tools. Shots and blood work have a 50/50 chance of working.
How I Cope
Luckily for me, I have a physician who accepts me as I am, is compassionate, and works with me to get as much done as possible with minimal distress.
Then came the matter of getting used to the new nurses and physicians assistants at the location my doctor moved to this year. They all are kind and caring, but my body and my alters did not care. These people were strangers. While I had a choice of letting them work on me or not, what was the point of a visit if not for the check up?
- Being honest about my fears and any potential challenges
- Repeating myself until the person took notice
- Using grounding affirmations and deep breathing (silently) when talking to the person didn’t work
- Letting my body and my alters do what they needed to do in order to protect themselves as long as it didn’t involve harming anyone
- Being patient with the person and explaining again what is happening and why
- Talking with my alters and checking with them to decide what happens next – try again or make another appointment
- Throughout the experience – being respectful, using open communication, asking questions and listening actively, practicing patience, and accepting the other person’s choices without judgement – after all these people are professionally trained and experienced in what they do; I’m the oddball
In the end, my alters only took issue with the blood work. In spite of having to try twice and use two different needles, the physician’s assistant got the blood. Some of the results are a little iffy to me (I didn’t fast that morning), but most are on target.
I have to take a vitamin D supplement (normal) because my body does not make enough or make it as easily as I hope and keep an eye on my iron. If my mind can’t stop ruminating on some of the other results, then I’ll have to follow up with the doctor about that too.
- Try to have my exam on a Thursday or Friday. My mind and body need time to cope /recover and can’t do that if I have to work
- Call ahead and ask about fasting; then set a reminder the day before
- Remember to check in with everyone before the needles go in, especially if the physician’s assistant or nurse or technician does not seem to be taking what I say seriously
- Then remember to meditate and use grounding so that everyone stays calm and agrees to let the tests, etc. happen – remind them the alternative is having to come back again…
- When in doubt, skip the online portal and make time for a phone call. It saves a boatload of frustration, anxiety, and panic
- Facing my fear of doctors feels scary and overwhelming until it’s over. I have hope that some day the scary, overwhelming emotions will feel less intense or (maybe) go away for good.
How do you cope with triggers for necessary events and activities in your life?
Thanks for reading