Saturday, August 27, 2011

I tried to make a disaster preparedness kit but got an endoscopy instead

Never Done: I tried to make a disaster preparedness kit but got an endoscopy instead

As you probably recall, on Tuesday I was at the doctor during the earthquake. On Friday I went back to have an endoscopy -- just as everyone around me was anxiously preparing for Hurricane Irene. It was a crazy time to be doing this -- the doctor's office was backed up 90 minutes, and so all of us very hungry people (procedure requires fasting) were waiting in the waiting room instead of out doing what we really wanted to do: buying batteries and peanut butter cups.

It's a good thing the doctor I see is a mentsh (SUCH a mentsh -- if you need a recommendation for an excellent GI doctor, hit me up) because I wouldn't have wanted to go into a situation where I was going to go under anesthesia with resentment to a doctor. Instead, he came into the room when we first saw each other, and just threw his arms open and apologized for the wait, and told me that everything had been crazy -- that people hadn't prepped right, that he'd found tons of polyps, that people were insane because of the storm, that he had plenty of time for me and he was completely rested and he was going to do a thorough and careful job. None of this was cavalier -- just real and engaged and actually reassuring.

But here's the thing. I'd been experiencing a pretty high level of anxiety about the hurricane all day long. I would rather be pretty much anywhere but New York City for an emergency-type event -- probably because I have dealt with dozens of power outages in the country, but have never had to deal with them in the city. Also, I feel trapped in New York, because it is, in fact, an island. Whereas the places I would like to go to for this storm are surrounded by fields and orchards instead of rivers and oceans. But I felt that the anxiety I was feeling went beyond the impending storm -- and it wasn't until I was sitting in the waiting room for way longer than I should have that I realized that it wasn't only the storm that had me feeling anxious. It was that I was about to go under anesthesia right before a storm -- the ultimate helplessness -- and didn't know when I would be done, and how I would feel, and if I would be able to go buy batteries afterwards, or if I would need to be home asleep, and in fact how it would be go get home, and if I would have a bad reaction to the anesthesia (sometimes I do and sometimes I don't) and really irrationally, what if the hurricane came while I was under? -- which there was no way it was going to do, but the earthquake had struck while I was in the same doctor's office, so it sort of made sense that I was afraid of that -- and also, I sort of wanted to drive away from the city Friday night to avoid the storm entirely, but they warn you not to drive for 24 hours after anesthesia, and -- well, of course I was feeling a little bit of helplessness. Of course.

Once I figured that out, I realized I had to just chill out, let go, and trust Dr. Mentsh would take good care of me. Also, that I could buy batteries and Band-Aids on Saturday morning. He did take good care of me, and although I was quite loopy when I came to, I eventually got unlooped enough to go home, and even to go out looking for batteries. And guess what? There were none. Anywhere. (Well there were plenty of AA and AAA, but I already have a ton of those. I was looking for C and D batteries. Flashlight batteries. Also, flashlights because ours are ... you guessed it ... mostly in storage. Also, my dear Ellen reminded me that after the flooding in Hoboken a few years ago she sent me a disaster preparedness kit -- with candles and a hand-crank flashlight. And where is that? Agh, in storage!) But the interesting this is that I didn't feel all anxious about this. I felt frustrated and a little concerned, but not anxious, which validated my theory that my anxiety of the impending storm was partially displaced.

And so I watched some episodes of The Big C (now she's a swim coach!) and hit the sack early, with plans to find light in the morning.


  1. I'm sending love and light to you, Jenny. I hope that you have all the preparedness you need by now. That all goes easily and well, that you are surrounded by love and you are safe. I love you.

  2. Of course you felt helpless- and so glad you are self-aware enough to understand why and soothe yourself (and hopefully be soothed by others). Not sure if I missed something but hope endoscopy isn't for anything too serious and that you come out all clear- XOX!!! L

  3. Thanks to both of you. We ended up just fine, and truly, as soon as I was fully conscious, I wasn't nervous about the storm. Lori -- I have undetectable ferritin levels (it's iron storage) -- along with some GI issues, and they needed to see if I had GI bleeding (they discovered that I don't) which is the most common reason to have such sever anemia.