april twenty-fifth

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Looking at a long list of words with more syllables on them than I do years, I became eager. It was 6:30AM and I was sitting amid my father and an older gentleman who smelled of fresh mint. The room was so silent, that you could hear each breath as it was being taken. In and out… in and out. Older men and women greeted each other as they entered the room, taking their place at the back of the line, all laughing at how long the line had already accumulated, thirty minutes prior to the clinics opening.

I had been at a blood collections center.

While I wish I could say that this was an easy task for me, that would be a total lie. Every day for as long as I can remember my mornings have gone the same way. At 4:30 AM I roll out of bed and stretch, pick up my work out clothes and head to my basement, where I engage in 20-25 minutes of running/jogging or riding my stationary bike, followed by an additional 20 minutes of yoga or barre exercises. From there I get showered and ready for my day, make my breakfast and by 6:30, I am eating.

Not today. I still woke up and worked out. Honestly, at this point, the reasons I work out so early in the morning are two-fold:

  1. I love the overall feel of working out this early. It’s calming, making me feel centered and focused. I take this time to think, about my day or about my past… about anything. My mind is never more clear than it is in these forty minutes.
  2. I have my body in a routine… I do not focus myself out of bed at 4:30… I am wide awake; and, I feel energized. Truthfully, what else is a girl to do at 5AM in the morning?

However following my – amazing – morning jog and flow, I threw on some clothes and headed out the door. We arrived at quarter to six, landing our spot as client number three.  I sat down on the bench and waited.

The day following my PAP, all I could think about was how this would mess with my morning ritual. This, quite unfortunately, caused me unexplainable stress. An addition slew of what if’s tumbled in. So, that night, as I have been telling myself to do, I decided to throw in another ‘so what?’ After considering the follow-up question it occurred to me how truly silly I had been.

Oh, no. I will eat a little bit later. Big woop.

My issue lie in the fact that, since my struggle, the mere pang of hunger is paralyzing. Not only do I feel… hungry, but a list of other emotions flood in quicker than a tsunami. Feelings of shame and fear are most prominent. I start to think – immediately – that I did it again. That I did not feed my body; I did not listen. For me, at this stage, that is the most terrifying notion. After trying several approaches, the only method which actually helped me get over my issues was to continually say to myself:

This is your body and your friend; treat it well and always listen.

Putting that faith in my own body was my saving grace. If my body needed something, I had to believe it would not lie to me. I had to believe its signals were genuine. As a result, when I feel hungry… or cannot eat, I feel I am in someway betraying it.I know this all probably sounds hocus-y, but it is the honest truth. So, the idea of having to fast for the blood test(s) caused worry. I did not want to encounter that shaky feeling which always caused such grief. I couldn’t.

Big woop. I will just eat when I get home. There are people starving in the world, and I only have to wait an additional hour. If you can not handle this, what will you be able to handle? 

Oddly enough, shakiness had been a non-issue. In fact, quite the contrary. Beginning around quarter to seven, my belly started to grumble. I held by belly and reminded myself that I had no ‘failed’ my body, at all. In quite, my purposes for getting my blood taken were exactly the opposite: ensuring that my body was okay. I took a deep breath and let the grumbles subside.

Before long, thanks to my wonderful boyfriend allowing my to call him at the early hour to take my mind off of the long wait, the doors opens. The herd rushed in like cattle, picked their numbers and sat in their chosen seats. I had been number three.

Before I could even find a seat, my number was called. The lady sitting at the desk was kind, but tired. You could tell she had already foreseen a long day ahead.

‘This is the busiest morning, yet’, was all she said and she typed the slew of tests we’d be running this morning (later, I discovered had been six separate tests). I smiled at her and told her I hoped that meant it would go by quickly. On the inside, I thought that it probably had something to do with my being there that morning. My family tends to harbor poor luck in regard to this sort of thing – today aside.

You could tell my list of tests far exceeded those of patients one, two, four and five, as they were all well on their bloodletting way, while I was still waiting for her to finish imputing my data. All I could think was, ‘an ovary gone AWOL, ten thousand blood tests and about one medicinal appointment, biweekly…. I feel like the crossword puzzles are literally starting to age me’.

Following the never-ending data imputing, I headed to station 10, where I was greeted by a small girl, with light hair and blue eyes. Something about her was very calming and reassuring – almost as if she was on her way to landing a job regarding the healthcare of children; upon leaving, a sucker would not have been shocking to receive. The entire process took little time, all of which I observed (I have always found this sort of thing fascinating). She bandaged up my small wound and smiled…

‘Now you can go eat breakfast’.

Oddly enough, by this point, I had forgotten all about it.

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