the coolest I have ever been: a story about anxiety

The coolest I have ever been is the day I had eye surgery on my left eye. When I left the hospital with one pupil normal and one dilated, I looked the closest to David Bowie as I ever am likely too unless Tilda Swinton and I are in a horrible accident together and the only way to save one of us is to put my brain in her body.

But I digress.

I bring this up because the follow-up make-sure-you’re-healing-and-not-going-blind-instead appointment was tentatively dated to a time when I was immersed in the heavy production period of a film school would-be masterpiece. I cancelled the appointment and never remembered to reschedule.

Four years later it’s been something of a nagging itch. Did my eye heal? Or am I slowly going blind? Will Pirates in Space be the closest I’ll ever get to my Paradise Lost?*

The coolest I have ever been is still not this cool.
The coolest I have ever been is still not this cool.

So obviously the healthiest way to deal with this was by ignoring it. And so I continued to ignore it. Because things like doctors and dentists and optometrists give me inexplicable and near-intolerable anxiety.

Same with banks. They all make me feel like I’m being judged. Like, while flipping through a decade-old copy of Highlights for Kids in the waiting room, the receptionist is weighing my organs and placing them in canopic jars while cackling maniacally.**

Somehow, the bank teller knows I purposely buy the slightly more expensive organic milk and in her eyes this mismanagement of funds deems me evil or, worse, childish. “Pay into your RRSPs!” She will forewarn as the camera swoops into a low angle and the sky darkens.

Anyway.

So I’m moving to another country in a month and what went from well-intentioned plans has turned to cowering in a corner pleading to a silent entity to not make me have to talk to anymore strangers with advanced degrees.

I began with the rationale that these anxiety-inducing encounters will only be worse if undertaken in a foreign land, so I might as well get all those nagging itches scratched as soon as possible. However, it’s amazing what cold, squidgy rationalization can do.

Suddenly, there is nothing wrong with me. So what if I haven’t been to the dentist in several years. I’m going to Britain, land of bad teeth! I need to fit in!

But alas. I ran out of contact lenses. Sure, my eyesight has worsened in the last four years but I was always afraid of that second appointment I never had. But I sucked it up. I booked what I thought was a really quick prescription-taking eye test.

But this optometrist, he had a sixth sense for bull-shitters. Like Karl Pilkington’s alter-ego, the optometrist swooped in and called “Bullshit!” on my hand-wringing denial of any further concerns.

A set of eye drops later, he calmed my fears. I am not slowly going blind. No holey retinas here. This leaves me pondering the nature of my medical professional-related anxiety. I always fear the worst, but hate seeing someone about it, even if I know they will calm those fears.

What the hell, brain? Should I get you checked out? But then I would have to see a psychiatrist, which might just be the worst possible thing in the entire world. Do you have a disorder? Or a chemical imbalance?

Am I crazy? Or just totally normal…? Wouldn’t that suck.

Oh well. At least I’m not John Milton.

__________

*Apologies for the pretentiousness of a Milton reference. Apologies, apologies all around.

**Oh wow. More pretensions. Was that a reference to ancient Egyptian beliefs of the afterlife? Why, yes! It was! But with a little pop culture witch behaviour thrown in for added offence.

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