Thank you, Doctor

5.13pm. So grateful. Trembly. God I love the NHS. I phoned at about 2.50. Doctor called back for a phone appointment at 3.30. Explained chest pains and heart palpitations, she said you’d better come in then for a check. Real life appointment at 4.50. ECG was so quick, so brilliant, friendly lovely nurse, talked about the dilemma of what bra to wear for an ECG as she stuck stickers and wires on my chest and ankles.

She printed out the squiggly lines of my heartbeats as I got dressed and then she brought me upstairs to this next waiting room before Dr Williamson will see me. It’s totally empty here. 7 empty chairs against the walls where there’s usually 20 in rows. Last time I was here in February this room was packed. I love how covid-safe it is now. My breathing is warm and clammy on my cheeks under the mask, condensating my glasses.

Just so grateful that medical health experts are available to me, once I have the guts to phone. It’s been a month of chest pains and a week of heart flutters. Just call the doctor, it is their job. My last few months working on the support helpline has shown me that it’s OK it is to ask for help. There is a person who’s day has been organised so she can look at my heart. Why do I always feel like I don’t deserve doctors, that it’s too much of a bother? I live in a country where my taxes pay for my doctor to care about me and have time for me and I am so very grateful.

Not even nervous of the result. Just relieved to have it looked at. Knowing they’ll know what to do if anything needs doing. Stress headache now. Fair enough. Also my flippery heart was mostly still but during the ECG it performed some mild flutters. Catch that, I thought to the wires. Catch those fluttery bits and show the doctor what’s wrong with me.

1814. Every time I walk out of the doctor I’m grinning. It’s just anxiety! Woohoo. Let’s celebrate the fact that a horrible work environment is filling my body with irregularities and frightening pain, and not some actual heart condition.

I love you doctor Williamson. She said such wise things, smiling with her eyes above the half of her face covered by a surgical mask. She asked if anything stressful had happened to me in the past few weeks? I told her where I work. She understood immediately (it’s been all over the local press). She explained that when you’re scared your body responds with anxiety as if there’s a lion. That’s what adrenaline is for. And with a lion, you’d run away, breathe a sigh of relief and then your body would regulate again. When it doesn’t go away you have this constant fear response and your body manifests it. Could be in the bowels, the head, the heart. And so we need to find ways to look after ourselves, do something different and distracting. Exercise, gardening – weeding is great for getting stress out – or art projects. And look forward to your holiday and take it properly. Switch off work as much as you can. And avoid caffeine and alcohol. Because it might not normally be a problem but when your body is already flooded with anxiety, a single cup of coffee might take it over the edge. Also, when you notice something a bit odd in your body, you pay so much attention to it that it seems worse than it is. And then the anxiety goes up and it gets worse. Just take it easy, try to switch off the problems at work, and take care of yourself.

I wanted to hug her. I said if there was a tripadvisor for the surgery I would leave a review. I couldn’t shut up about how grateful I was, and I was grinning under my mask as I pumped a load more sanitiser on my hands and walked out of the building.

SO. SO NOW, seriously, this little routine I’ve been trying to keep to look after my mental health needs to become a little more serious. The six daily Miracle Morning techniques have expanded to ten now (eleven if include my newly discovered need for laughter) and I will set about a renewed commitment to the process tomorrow. Exercise, eat right, meditate, thank, affirm, visualise, read, write, be kind, plan, laugh.

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