Doctor’s Appointment (The Feelings Roller Coaster)
Joe S. Thomas
Every three months I have the misfortune of going to my psychiatrist’s office to sit and stare at the human zoo the office has turned into while waiting to see her. Well, to see her through a computer screen as she no longer physically comes to the office but uses Zoom ever since the Covid Pandemic hit. That is, if I want to continue to receive the medications that keep me from biting the necks out of people walking down the street.
It sometimes gets to me that she feels her life is too important to be around her patients but expects us lowlings to show up and risk getting sick. Somewhat unfair in my opinion and yes, it gets under my skin. And yes, I let them know about it. Of course it changed nothing, they do what they want when they want apparently. You know the tune.
Yesterday it was time yet again to go through the mechanics of simply getting my much needed medications. This has turned into a real test of strength for me in the past few years. I have to psych myself up to even get into my car and drive to the place knowing what I’m going to face.
You see, I suffer from severe depression and extreme anxiety. I’m not really a guy that enjoys going out in public and being around other people. Especially people who seem not to know how to conduct themselves properly in public. Call it a pet peeve, I don’t know, it just gets to me.
I sit in the parking lot listening to the Ramones and trying to allow my klonopin to kick in before I attempt to go in and wait, wait, wait for her to finish up with her patients who have somehow piled up throughout the day (it never fails), which causes me to sit in the waiting room with the other mental health mutants waiting for the same thing. The difference between us seems to be the fact that they enjoy this outing. It may be the only time they’re allowed out in public, I don’t know but it causes me distress.
I place my fingers on my neck to check my pulse. I’m hoping the beats will slow down a bit before I have to go in. They usually don’t.
After “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” finishes playing I feel I’m ready for my mission. There aren’t too many cars in the parking lot and I consider this a win for me. However, I know all too well that regardless of how many people are in there, one will absolutely drive me insane. It never fails. I promise. I walk up to the electric glass door wanting to run back to my car and leave but the door slides open, I step in and as usual all eyes are on me. I’m 6 feet tall with a shaved head and I’m fairly covered in tattoos. I’m used to being stared at. They’re all staring hard today. I feel the eyes penetrating the flesh on my back.
The glass windows that the receptionists are behind are only open about 6 inches or so, making me have to speak much louder than I care to about my personal information and what I’m doing there. After repeating myself three times without the lady even trying to open the glass so she can hear, I pay my payment, place my wallet in my pants and turn around to find a seat in the waiting area. Yep, they’re still staring. I put my book under my arm, find the seat farthest away from everyone, stare at the ground and walk myself on over.
On this particular day I’ve brought Bukowski’s Ham on Rye to read as I wait and ignore the buffoonery that is no doubt in my very near future. I’m hoping like hell my doctor isn’t too far behind. I’ve been going to this place for well over fifteen years and I have never once been called back on time. Nowhere near actually. Ever.
I attempt to walk quickly because I see an extremely overweight, middle aged woman and her overweight, teenage, offspring just waiting to ask me something. I can read it in their tiny rat eyes hidden away in their doughy faces. I give them a quick, evil, do-not-fuck-with-me glance and fortunately I get to the seat unmolested but still being stared at like a circus freak.
The television is always on in the office. It’s always turned up so loud that it makes my head hurt. Today’s feature program is the Andy Griffith Show turned up to ear piercing levels. Just fucking wonderful. I sit.
Before cracking my book I scan the room to see who is where and the action I will take if something weird happens to go down. I’ve always done this regardless of where I am. I know, it’s weird. I can’t help it. I take a deep breath, crack my book and attempt to read as I wait for them to call me back.
As I begin to read I see one of the overweight ladies pull a cell phone from one of her pockets. Apparently they’re bored. I understand. However, I know with all of my heart what’s about to happen. And sure as shit, it does. The hefty mother and her offspring decide they want to watch some sort of music video. They turn it up so we all have to suffer along to this horrible shit I assume they call music. Apparently it’s a young man singing what people call R&B talking about “Baby baby, I will never do you wrong and I need you in my life” type garbage as they begin to sing and gyrate their large asses in their seats to the beat of the music. I let out a satanic assault of expletives in my head and daydream about the horrible deaths they deserve to die.
I can’t read. The words are now floating on the page because I can no longer concentrate. I cut an evil eye above my book in their direction but they’re far too stupid to understand they are bugging the living hell out of me and surely the others who are waiting as well.
My anxiety causes my heart to speed back up. Again, I check my pulse with two fingers on the side of my neck. I’m surprised the vein doesn’t explode. I think to myself that I wish it would so I could spray these mutant idiots with my blood. I stand. I have to find some damn privacy. I get my bearings and take a step but I can tell my body has obeyed my medication but my mind hasn’t. Hopefully things will align, right…
My footing isn’t exactly sure. I step forward but feel as if I were physically treading a thick mud and always feeling left behind. I stand against the wall for a second or five and get my bearings. I start to walk where there is no human contact when I hear the most choked out, phlegm voiced, horrible sound that anyone would ever have the misfortune to ever want to hear: “JOSEPH!” OH, it’s time…
Embarrassed that my name has passed through the most country sounding, unhealthy behemoth of a voice that my own name ever had the misfortune to pass through, I look down the hall, red-faced and begin the shuffle down her way. My medication has most certainly kicked in.
When I get to the source of the horrible voice I realize that it could never be any other way. The voice was what one would expect from the specimen of such a sound. She weighed at least 350 pounds and had an unpleasant odor that couldn’t be denied anymore. I suddenly felt sorry for her co-workers. I suddenly felt sorry for myself. Fuck’s sake. This is why I no longer care to go outside my comfort zone any more.
“Just come on in here,” she said as I held my breath and sat in the chair beside her metal desk where she was breathing hard and sweating. She was fiddling with the blood pressure cuff as I felt my blood instantly rise at the thought of having my blood pressure taken.
I felt a hot flash pervade my body as the blood pressure cuff pumped. It got tighter and tighter. I began to sweat. The machine read an error which meant this was happening again. Shit. The smell of the fat lady, the heat, the anxiety and the utter absurdity of what I was putting myself through for some pills made me wonder if anything, ever, is worth all of this?
For some reason my blood pressure shoots sky high when they start sliding all of that mess on my arm. Of course my blood pressure is running high anyway due to my nervousness and the rage I endured to make it into the place and then the display of humanity I had to endure before being called back. High blood pressure runs on both sides of my family. I’ve had high blood pressure my whole life even as a child. Medical people start tripping when they see my shit. No joke. They ask if my ears are ringing, my heads hurting, am I seeing double etc.etc. “Not at all,” as I hold a hand that flops like a dying fish in front of her so she can see proof of my ridiculous tremor. This is one of the main reasons I’ve gone to this shithole for so long. I was originally put on 4, 1mg Klonopin a day and dealt fairly well for years. Though nothing takes away all of the anxiety and almost nothing helps the tremor
A few years ago the doctor I saw and truly got along with retired and I was thrown to the wolves after he left. The doctor I have now was thrust upon me without any knowledge or permission from me, not even a heads up. I knew my old doc was leaving but I thought I would at least get to choose the one I thought I would work best with. No such luck dear friends.
The doctor whom I have now and I have always been hit and miss. I think there’s a cultural barrier on both of our parts that keep us from communicating as well as we should. However, when I end up red faced, shaking and flabbergasted at the fact that I have to fight her so much for simple treatment. I often just want to drop the miniscule amount of medication she allows me just because it’s not worth the trouble, pick up her desk computer and put it through the window on my way out.
As I stated above I was on a decent dose and getting by before she came along. The very first appointment with her she cut some of my medicine. Each additional time she would tell me to start weaning off this medication. I told her “hell no,” it was the only one that ever worked for me. Still, as I live and breathe, she continued to cut my medication until I went from 4, 1 mg tablets of Klonopin a day to 1 and one half 0.5 milligram tablets a day. I was dumbfounded.
The doctor is from Pakistan and a lot of times I truly can’t understand her and there are times I know she doesn’t understand me either. When this happens I get extremely pissed, shut down and just want to flee that place.
Other staff members have noticed the issues I have and I don’t even see them. I’ve had more than one nurse come up to me and ask if I was alright due to my shaking. This is so embarrassing but it’s been my lot in life. All she had to do was keep me on the amount of meds I was currently taking and I truly believe I wouldn’t suffer half as bad as I do. I’m not a sexist, racist bastard and it has nothing to do with prejudices (on my end at least), but after Covid came around I knew this lady couldn’t give two shits.
When the Covid Pandemic began spreading out and the medical community saw how bad it truly was, she never again came to the office. I now have to go to their office, risk getting the flu, Covid and simply a lower IQ just so I can sit in front of a computer in her office as we speak over the Zoom app. Oh, she’s still getting paid, now she just gets to sit at home in front of the computer and mumble as if it weren’t hard enough already to deal with her bullshit.
I have heard rumors that she’s about to retire. I truly wish she would. I’m anxious to see how I’m treated by the next white coat.
I’ve dealt with my mental and physical troubles since the age of fourteen. Friends, I can say for absolute certainty I wouldn’t wish any sort of mental illness on anyone. It’s so paralyzing and it often tries to keep you captive. Life is hard enough when everything works the way it’s supposed to. Major Depressive Disorder, panic and anxiety attack issues and two spinal surgeries (not related) have damn near done me in I hate to say. If I dwell on it, I can truly get so far out I wonder if I’ll be able to pull it back at times…
As I strolled past the middle-aged woman and her offspring still being very annoying yet loving them some rap I felt my back ease up a bit. I walked through the waiting room very slowly. I made sure I looked each person there dead in the eyes. The lady that yelled my name so horribly earlier was breathing in a deep one to let the massive bellow fly yet again but thankfully I saw her and spoke before anyone ever had to hear that mess ever again. It gave me the creeps.
After meeting the gaze of everyone in the waiting room who were definitely taken aback by me I felt a bit lighter as a human being. My medication was in my blood now and doing the thing it does to keep me as right as possible. Making my way slowly toward the bellowing lady with the clipboard I felt like a huge, misunderstood, assshole and it made me sad.
⇄ ⇅ ⇆ ⇈ ⇉ ⇊ + – < > @ # & * % + =
I don’t want to be mad all the time, friends. I don’t want to shut myself away and hide from the rest of humanity because of the issues I have. I don’t like being hateful to people I’ve never even met simply because they made the mistake of getting in my path on a certain day.
I slid into the room and had a seat in the chair to the side of the nurses desk. She asked me a few questions and treated me extremely well. She was kind. I was a dick.
As she left her office to go make sure the computer was set up for the Zoom call, the nurse left her office. I felt like a true piece of shit for what I said about her. When the door shut I put my head in my hands and tried to beat back a few tears that were trying to escape due to myself and the way society can break my heart at times.
I only wish all of the horrible ways my mind and body create awful pain within me, that maybe at least a fraction of the time it would at least make some love and human understanding too.
These things happen a lot more now that I’m getting to be an older man. I know my miseries. I know with lightning efficiency and ruthless speed what will piss me off and cause me to go into a horrid depresso slide. But I suppose the first weapon in your arsenal is your awareness. Awareness can change your heart and the mean feelings you’re having about an unfortunate stranger who may be down on his/her luck in ways you never dreamed.
There are many days where my antisocial personality serves me well but I want the awareness to know when I feel I’m looking down on anyone else because I assure you, not a damn one of us is better than any other. That’s the truth. We all get angry, we all have problems. I just want to try to be ready and aware if there’s a problem that I can actually help fix. Especially for someone else.
The past four years have been painful to say the absolute least. I don’t want to rehash much of it or even think of it but sometimes there’s no remedy for that. I think of my lost friends and loved ones. Those who passed way too quickly due to drugs or drink. The woman you thought would always be there at your side as you helped one another along… gone. The feeling of peace a roof over your head can bring when the weather of the world is not so kind.
Be yourselves friends, but don’t be afraid to change and grow. It can be extremely frightening but I’ve found there are really great times of personal growth and introspection. If god is around I believe we’re probably closest to him/her when we’re doing something for someone else to make their lives better… and then maybe your day will come. I sincerely hope it does. And when it does I hope your heart flutters and you have a huge goofy smile on your face that others could only wonder about…