Monday, August 6, 2012

Don't Worry, It's Just Anxiety

I've sworn off caffeine-many times.  The most serious effort started a year ago.  I went cold turkey for six months.  But then it started to creep back into my diet.  I'd splurge on a Diet Coke from time to time.  My real problem is that excess caffeine gives me stomach aches and migraines. 

Last month, I bit the bullet and stopped completely.

I'm sure my intake is not absolutely zero.  I enjoy a decaf coffee a few times a week.  We all know that it isn't completely decaffeinated.  Life is too short for such slavish detail.

*

I'm generally a calm person.  I get antsy about time, but I wouldn't call myself anxious.  So when I felt my heart start to race this morning, it took me by surprise.  I felt like I was flying uncontrollably, butterflies fluttered in my stomach, and a horrible sense of dysphoria overtook me. 

I sat at my desk as the world closed in.  I listened to the phone ring, my patients chat in the waiting room, and my medical assistant speak softly into the telephone.

It took only a minute to realize what happened.  My coffee tasted funny this morning, a bit too bitter and harsh.  I gulped it down allowing my fears to be settled by the richness of the cream and sugar.  Sitting in my chair with my heart racing and the sweat forming on my brow, I was certain that I had mainlined an unadulterated dose of pure caffeine.

Newly unaccustomed to the stimulant, I buzzed around the office all day.  The feeling was quite uncomfortable.  I thought I might explode at any moment.  The only mitigating factor was that I knew the cause, and figured the it would end eventually..

*

I often tell my patients that I can't walk a day in their shoes.  I can only imagine the pain of appendicitis or the fear of cancer.  Fate will eventually deal me my hand of cards, both good and bad, but for now I can only learn from helping others through their tribulations. 

In one of those strange coincidences, multiple patients on the schedule were struggling with anxiety today.  I spent countless minutes counseling on something that I was feeling at the moment (to much lesser extent).

And I felt almost embarrassed.  How many times had I been insensitive.

Don't worry. Your not having a heart attack.  It just anxiety!

That just anxiety kicked my butt this morning.  What if I thought it would never go away?

I have come to think the true meaning of empathy is seeing your own suffering in another person's eyes.

That's what happened to me today.

3 comments:

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Grace walked with you today; isn't she an iu=nteresting companion ?~!

tracy said...

i feel bad that you had that experience....however, it does help you understand patients (like me!), better.

Thank you,
tracy

Chrysalis Angel said...

Every now and then a reminder comes along. It helps us to be mindful of the human condition, and extend compassion to others who are struggling.