You know the smells that take you back to a particular point in your life? Or remind you of a particular person? Burt’s Bees Beeswax & Banana Hand Creme, triggers thoughts of my dad.
I usually put this on my hands right before I go to bed. I love holding my hands up to my nose and taking a deep breath. It’s kind of a way to say goodnight to him.
Yesterday, I was reminded of another smell that transports me to another place, and it’s one I don’t like. The smell of hospitals or medical labs.
I thought I was Ms. Tough-Woman-Strong-Pants, visiting the lab yesterday, thinking—no big deal—I believed I was strong.
The lab is in my oncologist’s office, and is one of those places with a waiting room behind the door of the main waiting room. The main room is filled with bald cancer patients, some carrying portable oxygen tanks, waiting for their torture appointments. I’m made to wait in this room until I want to cry and make a mad dash for the door. Why are so many suffering? Could this be my future?
Just as I was prepared to flee, my name was called. I was hoping the process would be quick and I could get out of there, only to find myself sitting in another waiting room, further into the bowels of the office. A place consumed with the smell of antiseptic and fear.
One of my personal coping techniques to temper anxiety, is deep breathing. Obviously, a hospital or lab is not a place this technique works well for me.
Frankly, my anxiety took me by surprise, I was only having blood drawn. Needles don’t bother me, it’s the smell—the smell I link to panic. I know the source, and thought I had conquered that fear a long time ago. I had to buck up when I became pregnant, and obviously I survived the blood draws every time I turned around, the poking, prodding, and nights in the hospital. My world didn’t end, and nothing bad happened. In fact, just the opposite–we were blessed with three unique little humans.
Apparently, I link the smell to a new fear—cancer. A fear I thought I had control over.
While in the second waiting room, I could feel the sting of tears while drawing in a deep breath.
Tears of defeat.
The process of one step forward, two steps back.
I found myself staring at a painting of a flower. I examined the placement of light on the petals, as if it were shining in the morning sun. I thought about photographing a flower like that, and how I could reflect the light to create such a beautiful photo.
My name was called again, and my mind became occupied with the number on that dreadful scale, repeating my name and birth date–reminding me of my age, my blood pressure results, answering the cancer type questions, and getting poked—which I didn’t feel by the way—bonus!
I went home. My world didn’t end, nothing bad happened.
I’m trying to be proud of the fact that I didn’t spend the last two months stressing about this time of year. I’m amazed that my mind found an alternate source to keep myself semi-calm. Scans are a regular part of my life now. Learning to deal with anxiety is a stinkin’ pain in the rear. I don’t want anxiety to be a regular part of my life anymore.
I won’t be revealing the place that the smell of tequila takes me, but I’m thankful that I have more good smells sending me to wonderful places, than I do bad smells.