Much Ado About Something

by NotDownOrOut

There are days when it feels like you should go home, crawl into bed, and start over. On October 22 I tried to see my doctor for my “anniversary check-up.” It has been about a year since I first met Dr. H and her colleagues. I was stressed out because I learned in July that Dr. H only has office hours on Monday mornings. I teach Monday mornings at 10 a.m. at the law school that last year terminated me for having cancer. I did not expect to get any support if I needed to reschedule my class for another time. I am permitted to use one “class” for individual conferences. This would permit me to take a Monday off and schedule the conferences for later in the week. However, I used that option to attend my niece’s wedding earlier this month. It was held out of town and on a Sunday, which meant that I had to return on Monday. I cannot regret that decision. Maureen and her husband Justin came to take me to chemotherapy back in December. She is one of only three nieces and nephews in my family. I love her. So I made the right choice, but I was worried. I am a county hospital patient. I do not call the shots here. If I skip an appointment I take risks with my health that I do not like.

On Monday I got up at 4:30, dressed, assembled all my stuff, and headed out at six thirty. You have to be at the hospital early to get a parking space. I got one in the last row of visitor parking on the second floor. I waited in my car until after the elevators opened up because I had no desire to stand in the long line of people waiting to be herded into the elevators by the police once the elevators were unlocked for the public.

I checked in for Cinic I, which handles several kinds of cancer cases. I explained that I had an 8:15 a.m. appointment and needed to be out by 9:15 a.m. to teach my class. The receptionist listened empathetically to my reasons for fearing I might lose my job if I arrived late at class. “You’re the first appointment,” she said.

When the nurse came out to see me, I explained the situation. She promised to get me into an examination room as soon as she finished taking my vitals. She had some problems with my blood pressure. She tested me five or six times without getting a reading. We tried both arms and my forearms. I wondered if my blood pressure might have been high due to the tension I experienced, but agreed to let her test me again after my appointment.

I went to sit in the examining room. At about 9:15 a.m. I had to leave the hospital because the doctors had yet to arrive. Of course someone asked me to make a new appointment and I ended up speaking with the same clerk who originally told me that my doctor is only available on Mondays. This time she told me I could come on a Wednesday. I think she managed to pull the rug out from me.

I have been concerned about this since July when I made the appointment. I have lost sleep and explored every option short of asking the law school for an accommodation. While she entered the information, the receptionist asked me for some advice in handling a minor “legal issue.” It was one of those days.

I did not whine. I agreed to return on October 24th at 10:15 a.m. Then I scurried outside to look for a cab. There was not enough time to get my car, drive to school, park, and make it to class. It was raining. There were NO cabs. Not one. At a major hospital in an urban area. I had one bar on my cell phone and my battery was low. I made several calls to a cab company before someone came to pick me up. The cab company kept saying it needed a street address to come to the hospital. The corner of Ogden and Damen in front of the ER was not precise enough. Eventually, someone came. We raced across town. I ran into the building. I was on time. Hot, sweaty, wet from the rain, but on time.

After class I had to take a cab back to the hospital to retrieve my car. My cab driver claimed not to know where the hospital was. I had to give him directions. When he got off of the expressway he balked. The neighborhood was unsafe. He did not want to drive further. It was noon. It was raining. There were road crews working on Damen, near the hospital. You could see the hospital from where we were. The driver would go no further. So I got out and walked the three plus blocks in the rain.

My mom asked me later if I would be reporting the cab driver to the city. I won’t be. I was so frazzled that I failed to note his number. That is not like me. As my mom said later to her friend, “My daughter is a report-er. She reports anyone who does not do as they are told.” Okay, that cracked me up. My brother Danny used to call me Sister Mary Tattletales.

By the time I got to the hospital I was wet and crabby. I regretted leaving my umbrella in my car that morning. I felt like a deflated balloon. Who did I encounter as I walked through the building’s first floor toward the parking garage? The receptionist who originally told me I had to make it to a Monday morning appointment or not receive further treatment. She asked me why I was not at school–as if I had been insincere about my need to reschedule when I had to leave before seeing the doctor earlier that morning. I explained about having returned to get my car. A part of me was inclined to vent, but I let the moment pass.

I am a county hospital patient receiving charity assistance with my overwhelming medical expenses for treatment of cancer. I have more to be grateful for than anyone else I know. If having cancer and undergoing treatment has taught me anything, it has taught me that I cannot control anything that is really important. I can wheedle. I can yell. I can argue. I can whine. But I am only human (and so is everyone else). Sometimes you just need to go with the flow.

I guess I needed some reminding and the universe sent me a reminder. All the angst I experienced was for naught. I made it to class. And I will get to see my doctor tomorrow.

If I learned anything from the experience it was that I need to have faith that I can handle whatever is coming my way–good and bad.

So, when I drove back to school and the parking lot was filled, I drove my car around for an hour and returned to find a space had opened up. And I did not yell in my car or “catastrophize.”

If I am going to make a big deal about every obstacle in my path, then life is going to require . . . . I’m not sure what it will require. If I figure out what my life is missing, then I will be sure to blog about it.