The Gyno meets Ikea.

I have an article I'm supposed to be revising so I can start on my way to a successful journey towards tenure... But I'm finding it impossible to focus. This morning was a "stug" - my friend's therapist's word for a sudden turn of unexpected grief.

But I should have expected it.

Had to go to 8th and Spruce at Pennsylvania Hospital for my obgyn annual. Joy.

Annuals are bad enough, but couple that with the proximity of Penn hospital to my old stomping grounds, plus the fact that the freaking waiting room is where Mike and I sat happily gazing down at my growing pregnant belly, eagerly awaiting a visit with the doctor for us to get to hear that crazy fast "swooshing" sound of a heartbeat...

yeah - fucking horrible is right.

So, they took forever to call me back to the exam room. 45 minutes in that waiting room, on the verge of tears, heart racing... thinking how just 3 years ago we were in there together at the "beginning" of everything. The beginning of our married life - the beginning of our family... Goddammit.

So, I'm waiting and waiting and finally they call me - but not to see the doc... just to fill out their freaking form.

Fucking form.

Do you drink? If yes, how much and how often.


Do you smoke? If yes, how much and how often.

double shit.

Marital status.

I f*cking LOVE that one.

Do you suffer from depression or anxiety disorders?


So, I'm now confronted simultaneously with:
a) my grief and anger that Mike is gone when he should be here.
b) all my bad habits and "flaws."


By the time I got back into the examination room, I was a mess in my head. I was literally lying there waiting for the doctor, dressed in my stupid gown with the lil' sheet over me saying out loud to the pink venetian blinds, "I want to leave. I want to leave. I want to leave. I want to leave."

Then the doc came in. She's new - i had never seen her before 6 months pregnant. So cute. My age and so sweet.

"So," she said, sitting down on the stool, "how are you?" head tilted to the side and eyes wide.

"ok." I lied.

deep breath followed by tears.

"I have to apologize right away. I feel so emotional in here. My husband died last summer and this is where he and I would come while I was pregnant and check on the baby and get excited about our seemingly endless future. So, I'm falling apart here."

"Oh my god." she whispered.

"I know. It's ok. I'm ok. Usually. But I hate being here. I hated that form. Your form? you know? the one that highlights all the bad things you're doing? Like drinking and smoking and not exercising and ..."

She nodded.

"I'm not where I was three years ago. The form asked about breast self-exams... I don't even shower every day, let alone do breast exams. I've barely got it together. I mean... I do have it together. My son is ... amazing. I love my job. I'm good at my job - at least the teaching part. Research doesn't seem to happen because I'm too busy trying to take steps to be a functional being."

I breathed long enough to look at her face.

She was crying.

"I'm so sorry, " she said. "I'm right where you were just a few years ago. I can't imagine. I just can't imagine."

Sometimes it just feels nice for someone to again validate that fact. It may be my reality. But it's... unbelievable. It is simply fucking unbelievable.

So, confirming what I had just lectured about in my "persuasion and communication" class on Tuesday - I sought solace in the consumption of goods. I went to Ikea. Yes, I know I didn't fix anything "real" by shopping... but for a little while I fooled myself into believing that the purchase of a new duvet cover and bins for Bax's toys could help me reconstruct my sense of self.

Did it work?

Well, I stopped crying.

But now I feel guilty that I shopped. Plus, now I feel like I need to upgrade other things in my house to match the new and improved duvet and toy bins.

Curse you, empire of conspicuous consumption!


Anonymous said...

You are a wonderfully gifted writer! You are able to capture the various colors of emotions with humor and it's apparent to this reader [and I would hazard a guess, probably others :) ], that you more than "together!"

Shortly after Mike's death folks commented on your dignity and grace. You keep putting one foot in front of the other...you smile, laugh, and cry....you are beautifully human.

Many many *positive* thoughts and blessings to you!

CryssyeR said...

I have been reading and never know what to say - anything I offer sounds so trite. I did want to comment, though, on your total honesty and courage. To open up like that to a sort of stranger (ok, one that is looking in places a stranger should never see, but I digress) is such an amazing thing to me. I would have totally shut down and just go through the motions. You spilled your guts and let it out there. Amazing.

Offering many prayers for you and your son!

beth said...

I too just purchased a new duvet cover for the bed in the guest room - it is quite satisfying, isn't it? Although I think I have you beat, because that room doesn't need to be merely "upgraded" - one wall needs to be completely repaired and the whole room needs to be repainted because of the freaking water damage. Yeah.

You are so strong, you know?

Love you and thinking about you - what an experience. When can we come over for a little BBQ before it gets cold?


Anonymous said...

I hope you're having a better week this week Danna. STUGS can be so draining, but when you're on the other side it feels like you're just a little bit stronger because you MADE IT through to the other side.

The poor doc never saw that train coming. She now knows that the simple "How are you?" really isn't such a simple question, right? Better to say to someone like you or me, "How are you today?"

Hang in there. Or as Winston Churchill once said, "When you're going through hell, just keep going." You're the master of that! Amy

Anonymous said...

Nothing like taking off your pants for a stranger to make you feel vulnerable and exposed. (We have one exam room at work that I've dubbed "the pit of despair" because for some reason I make everyone cry in there.) I miss you terribly and wish we were around to catch you during these moments--or at least buy you a glass of wine.
smooch. michaela

Anonymous said...

Don't ever, EVER feel guilty about shopping. It is the hunting and gathering instinct kicking in to ensure survival--and emotional survival is just as big as physical survival.

God, I love shopping. It is so soothing.

We're out here, still thinking about you and checking in. Hugs to you and Bax,

Megan Hollinger

Anonymous said...

I look at it like this...you have this amazing power to cut through the bullshit with people and touch their souls.

"How are you?"
"Oh, fine."

With you, there is nothing trite; real stuff comes out during these STUG moments. Stuff that has the power to stop people in their tracks and look around and really really experience life.

This power of yours changes people for the better. We recognize what's important and what's not.

I know you never wanted this power. None of the superheros wanted their gifts. But you are using this power wisely and are doing great things in this world.

Much love and many thanks.