The doctor, a gynecologist, blustered through the door of the exam room.
His silver streaked hair exploded in different directions like he hadn’t combed it in months. I’m sure a few birds nested in it. He had a wild-eyed look about him like a hunted animal seeking refuge. Perhaps he’d delivered several babies during the night and hadn’t yet had a chance to relax and tee off at the country club. He didn’t seem too interested in knowing me. He didn’t offer a smile or a handshake, just an abrupt “I’m Dr. Badhair.” Of course his name isn’t really Badhair but I’m not using his real name to protect me.
I had never seen this doctor before and I immediately wished I didn’t see him at all. His exam was impersonal, unlike my gynecologist I had for many years before he retired. Dr. Rogers (his real name) would chat with me during the exam. A pap smear or breast check happened while he asked me how my summer was and what fun things I did. He had a warm, caring manner. Dr. Badhair asked me nothing. My privacy was not a consideration as he poked, prodded, and pinched the upper half of my exposed body. I had to close my eyes and take a mental vacation until the whole ordeal was over. Interrupting my mental vacay, I heard him say in a brash tone , “Sorry for the discomfort.” In my mind I was headed for Hawaii. If it weren’t for the pain inflicted on my body, I might have enjoyed my fantasy escape of leis and warm greetings of aloha. But the pain grew and Dr. Badhair squished my upper anatomy so intensely I had to open my eyes to see if he was killing me.
I had made the appointment with Badhair because he was local and his office in a reputable health center. I had suspicious bumps I wanted checked out.
When he finally stopped his physical torture, he gave me his diagnosis. “You have nothing to be concerned about. You have changes in skin texture, that’s all.” He then said he had to leave right away. “If I stay any longer, I’ll have to charge you more than my minimal charge.” He blasted out the door so fast he created a hurricane wind that practically blew me off the examining table. I immediately dressed and left with sore bosom and windblown hair but too happy to care. I knew at last I had nothing to be concerned about. The minimal charge added to my delight.
My doctor visit reminds me that I can build things up in my mind to the point that all I see is a desolate outlook. While all the time, good things await.
That’s how it is with anxiety. You start to think the worst instead of the best. And the more you think the worst, the more you worry and then bam, anxiety slaps you in the face and does a chokehold. While seated in the doctor’s lobby and waiting to be called, I felt only dread. It was the last place I wanted to be. Well, second to last. Standing in line at Walmart would be the last place.
On the anxiety scale, with 1 at serenity, I was 110 before entering the doctor’s office. And once I met the doctor my concern increased to 250. Dr. Badhair did nothing to put me at ease during the exam. His manhandling method made the experience feel more like an abduction by Frankenstein on a mad mission.
My dread subsided with the happy diagnosis. I left Badhair’s office feeling better. A lot better.
I often perceive things as I see them and not as they are.
Like the brown mountain I visited on Monday. You see it in the background as you enter Kartchner Caverns State Park in Benson, Arizona.
The mountain features a desolate landscape of dirt, sage brush, a smattering of rocks, and gasping lizards with their tongues hanging out from lack of water. I didn’t see anything I thought noteworthy. But when I took a tour of the huge cave under the dreary, brown mountain, the sight of gorgeous rock formations blew me away. Stalactites dripping in Disney color adorned the cave ceiling. And stalagmites towered upward like glossy melted wax candles. Some formations took on a whimsical affect with the exact appearance of giant pieces of crispy Hormel bacon.
And that’s how it is with anxiety. Once you visit it with negative thoughts, you see only potential danger or misery or crazed doctors with birds nesting in their hair. You don’t see the wonder or surprises that life holds. You don’t seek the greatness God is capable of.
Anxiety is all about staying safe and never exploring the dark, mountain cave.
During the tour of Kartchner Caverns, our guide asked all of us to be silent for three minutes as we stood inside the massive geological hollow full of natural wonder. No one made a sound. Suddenly, we heard one drip of water coming from somewhere deep in the underground chamber. Ker-plunk. “That’s the heartbeat of the cave,” our tour guide said. I realized then that one drop of water, one at a time, created the magnificent rock formations over thousands of years.
And most amazing, I’ve discovered faith works the same way. It builds peace one breath at a time.
Don’t be so careful
You miss the times
of late September
Don’t be so weary,
You miss the sea,
Or swinging from
A crooked tree,
Or closing your eyes
And taking the plunge.
Don’t be so safe,
You miss the fun.