I went to my cardiologist yesterday for a follow up to an appointment, which was a follow up from a mishap last year when I fainted for no apparent reason, and fell and hit my head. I seem to still be terrified at the doctors' offices, even though I have managed to surround myself with some pretty hip characters. My internist is smart (and also very attractive) and a great doctor. Her office is polite, sharp and timely, she has all my scripts, and I have no problems with her staff at all. My endo has the personality and accent of a disgruntled ex-communist, but I really feel that she cares about me and my health. She's super conservative and proactive almost to the point of being a little bit of a pain in the ass. My retina specialist is a fellow gumba, very hip, and has helped me with my eyes and has been crucial to me over the last year with my tiny little prolific on-disk retinopathy. My cardiologist is a young guy, a gumba too, he is fun and although he's not too familiar with type 1 treatment issues, he has seen a lot of T2 complications and deaths; he is a great heart guy, if not overly pragmatic. I talk and joke with all of them – everybody (except the endo) laughs, and I think the endo would laugh more if she "got" my innuendo and figures of speech.

Here's my malfunction: I have full blown anxiety attacks when I see any of them. My blood pressure jumps 10mm diastolic and 15mm systolic if I sit there long enough. I almost always have to change my undershirt after an office visit, and I almost always feel sick. WTF? 31 years of this and WTF?! Mentally I know THEY work for ME. I know they are helping me, I know and I am not ashamed that I have diabetes, I know all too well what complications can do and how and why they help me. I know how important it is for me to go and see them. I willingly go to all my doctor appointments…but why does my old brain think I am going to die when I am in there? Why does an office visit get hijacked by the sheer terror of that experience and where the heck does it come from?

Views: 7

Tags: anxiety, doctor, office, visit

Comment by Debbie on March 17, 2009 at 9:23am
Awwwwww,,,,,the old white coat syndrome!...I dont know why that happens but it does to alot of people. I dont know if it stems from the shear trauma of when we were little and had our first doctors appointment. Some big stranger coming at us with all different kinds of instruments we have never seen before, hands all over us. The dreaded shot?The fear of the unkown? Even as we grow older and know they are our friend, I think that that ole fear of the unkown still gets us. I think for some reason we feel vulnerable and intimidated and are on the edge waiting for a suprise dx's that we didnt know we had. Or maybe its cause they know us too well and we cant keep anything from them. We all like to be modest. I am friends with my physician both work related and personal, but every time I step in that office,,here goes the ole anxiety and when he walks through that exam room door,,,,give me a tranquilizer..lol. I just call it fear of fear. Geesh what is wrong with us! So Joe you are not alone!
Comment by Yvonne on March 17, 2009 at 1:12pm
Joe,

Could this be from echoes of a previous traumatic moment in a medical office? I have high anxiety at my internist's office but no where else. This internist is located in a town where I used to live. I'd barely moved there when my life went from good to (temporarily) a train wreck. It's not that I moved away, I feel like I escaped from that city. My story is a lot like yours - my blood pressure rises and I get anxious just sitting in the waiting room.
Comment by Joe on March 17, 2009 at 6:09pm
=) thank you Debbie and Yvonne!
Comment by Kathy on March 17, 2009 at 8:19pm
I get anxious just driving by my clinic, even if I have no appts scheduled. I try not to look at the building complex (but, of course, always do). This weekend I had to go to Urgent Care for the crud and by the end of the 75 minute wait was a near basket case.
A couple of years ago I went to see a psychologist at the diabetes center. I told him that when I got off the elevator I felt death was chasing me. He looked at me as if I were completely nuts in the head (Well yeah, buddy, that's the reason I'm here).
It would make like so much easier if I didn't have this issue with apointments - if they didn't loom an ruin my peace fo days ahead of time.
Even after an apointment, I am still anxious until I get out of the building. Like if I have to pick up something at the pharmacy, I think that I nurse will come down and find me and say that they found something dreadful in one of th lab results.
And I have the blood pressure deal too. So, I just started keeping my own records at home. The doc loves it.
Comment by debb on March 18, 2009 at 6:44am
doctor's appointments don't bother me, but i go completely bonkers if i have to drive somewhere i don't normally go. it took me years just to get my license. i live in the boonies so local driving doesn't bother me...too much, but tell me i have to go somewhere else and you better be driving cause i won't.
the reason???? near as we can figure when i was around 4/5 my dad was teaching my then 16 year old sister how to drive. we were all in the car and he told her to make a left hand turn into the neighboring farm driveway. she drove it right into the ditch. straight on. my dad didn't stop yelling for two weeks. after that i would have nightmares, one that plagued me for most of my life was me driving in circles in a big parking lot and not having any brakes. i would wake up in cold sweats. you would have thought that demons were after me. three months after i got my license my husband put new brakes on my car. he forget to put a clip in and i lost my brakes. there were two school buses in front of me. i took the curb rather then hit a bus full of kids. i learned then that the reality wasn't near as bad as the dream, but i still don't like to drive.
Comment by Roman on May 10, 2009 at 10:30pm
Joe,

Oh boy do I know what you're going through. The problem with me is that I'm scared to have my blood pressure checked! Doctor's offices don't normally scare me that much (which is comforting considering I'm a medical student lol ) but the second whoever is in there to check my blood pressure starts the procedure, I FREAK OUT. I get the whole nine, palpitations, feeling trapped, shallow breathing, and consequently the rise in BP. Mine has gone up quite a bit from just anxiety attacks at the doctors office, although its usually my systolic that jumps up. If i come home and use a BP machine, I'll get the first results kinda high if I'm still anxious, but as I calm down they shoot down into normal range. I find that the more comfortable I am with the people, the better off I am with my anxiety. Also, the quicker they take my info and do the tests, the happier I leave. If the person takes forever to take my BP, i have time to freak out. The PA that i see now does it super fast, before I have a chance to really get worked up :)

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