(I've been forgetting to hit Publish the last while, meaning my posts have been late. Today I meant to save my Friday post as a draft, and apparently hit Publish instead. I wasn't even sure I wanted to post this. Too late to retract it now, with several comforting comments from dear friends. Ah, well - full steam ahead :))
I've always been on the shy side, personality wise.
But when my dad had his stroke, I had to learn to step out of my comfort zone. Because I was involved with his treatment from the day he went to the hospital, and because his brain was affected by age and the stroke, my brain became the repository for all the bits and pieces of information that he would otherwise have stored in his head to deal with the health care system - everyone from caregivers to paramedics to nurses and doctors. I became familiar with his conditions, his medications, his prior treatments, his appointment dates and times, his specialists' names, his food preferences, his abilities, his Everything, as he travelled the path of life in his last eight years. He often introduced me to people as "my daughter, my right hand."
I found it hard to speak up: to ask for what he needed; to "bother" people for a blanket or help shifting him to a more comfortable position or giving him his puffer or finding missing clothing; to question a doctor's prescription or a nurse's behavior; to stand up to those who, for some reason I cannot fathom, had chosen to go into a helping profession without a basic level of empathy for vulnerable patients. But I did it, and it got a bit easier as the years went by.
Let me take a moment here to add that the great majority of the people Dad and I encountered were caring and capable, and if not capable, at least well-intentioned. I am so thankful to them. But there were a surprising number of the other kind, more than I ever would have expected, and my fervent wish for them is that they become a patient of an arrogant, loud, rough medical professional or caregiver some day. For many, many days on end. Years, even. Pah!
As I was saying.
I learned to speak up, for my dad's sake. But since his death, I feel like I've lost my voice again. I don't like to call people. Any people. I don't like to arrange things. I don't like to make appointments for myself. I don't like to go to appointments for myself.
I gave myself six months of cocooning time and forgiveness; it didn't seem enough. It's been over a year now; I'm getting worse. I put off going to physiotherapy for my hip for six weeks, telling myself that I just needed more exercise in general, I needed to do my old physio exercises, I needed to fill in for work vacations, I needed to clean the house ... I used similar reasons to put off calling the dentist to have an adjustment done to a crown that's been living in my mouth for over three months now.
There is a list on my cupboard of all the things I should do, and the list is getting longer, not shorter. Things are piling up, and I can't seem to Just Do Them. The calls are the worst part by far. What is it about picking up the phone and talking to people that has me so knotted up?
I don't have a clue.
I took a week off work to try to get my physio started. I have succeeded in that, at least.
May it be only the beginning. May I be on my way out of this fog. May I cease to dread talking on the phone. May I get over being so rattled that I forget to give medical personnel important information. May I stop looking like a deer in the headlights, as they say here, meaning frozen in place.
May I come out of my second childhood of painful shyness and, once and for all, grow up.