Today I wasn’t feeling very brave, at all. I had to go to a place I wasn’t familiar with, via a mode of transportation I wasn’t familiar with, to a physical therapy appointment with people I haven’t met, who don’t necessarily speak English – and I didn’t know what they were going to do. Or how painful it might be. Or how long it would take.
Social anxiety FTW.
To give myself credit, I had done research with the info I had. I knew a little bit about lumbar traction and what it entailed. But there were lots of options. One included an inversion table – which the thought of made me start to panic.
Time to suit up.
Underwear and sports bra. To ensure comfort and flexibility.
Clean pair of yoga pants.
+10 armor +5 intellect (they had pockets)
Geek t-shirt – 1 size larger than necessary. Hides the curves I’m not comfortable with and is slightly longer. Says “If you don’t understand this shirt, you don’t need to be talking to me anyway!” whilst simultaneously saying “You like my shirt? We can be friends”
+ 10 armor + 10 charisma
Mustachioed Korean socks. Conversation starter, comfort, and culturally appropriate.
+10 intelligence + 10 wisdom
Comfortable new balance shoes. +10 armor
Bag of holding (contains notebook, city map, cell phone, charger, headphones, keys, t-money card, pens, and a chocolate Binch cookie for emergencies)
+10 armor +10 wisdom
Sweatshirt (just in case)
So I prepare myself for battle.
I take my anxiety pills. I made my husband hug me. I had a charged phone and a map, and I repeated the bus directions. I also have the address to catch a cab if needed. I leave an hour before my appointment. I can do this.
I put my headphones on and turn on my happy play list. I can’t hear anyone and I don’t care anymore if people are staring. My feelings of bravery increase.
I walk into Starbucks. I order my soy mocha. Yes whipped cream. I remember to give them my points card. I give them my money. I take my change, and wait for my drink. A soy mocha with soy whipped cream. I drink for at least 10 seconds to increase my health and mana levels. Also to get the “well caffeinated” buff. Plus chocolate = very yes.
While I walk to the bus stop, I see a guy on a motorcycle waiting at the crosswalk with me, to cross the street. Because that happens here.
I laugh. I take a picture. I feel braver. I get on the bus and recognize it’s going the right way. The bus speaks English (not the driver- just the bus). I feel braver. I cut the music to make sure I can find my stop.
The hospital is huge, at least 7 different giant buildings. I’m dumped out in front of one I don’t recognize.
I walk in and through and thankfully they staff TONS of people who can direct you, and even walk you to where you are supposed to go. I ask for help. I breathe slowly as it takes 4 people to understand me and show me the right way. My English centered brain is frustrated. The building is called “rehabilitation clinic” in English. How is that not clear when I say it?
Bravery -10. People can see me. They are judging me.
A lovely woman shows me the way. I check in to the place I think I’m supposed to be.
Her kindness is amazing. She clarifies that out this door, I walk straight for about 2 minutes to the large building up ahead. She smiles. I feel reassured slightly.
It’s in the building I was in before but a different place. Same nurse is at the desk. She doesn’t look like she remembers me but I just think I saw you 2 weeks ago, how many overweight blonde Americans do you see regularly?
Bravery -5 I clutch my bag of holding to my body.
She tells me I’m supposed to be somewhere else and points. Another lovely woman walks me over there. I try to check in. They ask me for my hospital number. I don’t have one. (WTF is a hospital number?)
Several people ask me for my name, look confused. One woman makes a call. Tells me it’s the international clinic on the phone and hands me the receiver. I start to talk. I can’t understand the person on the end.
Finally in the middle of this a therapist walks up and says my name. Checks my apt time and asks me to wait. Everyone else says “sorry.” I guess for the confusion?
I sit and wait.
And then I meet Timothy. My therapist. He is funny and he loves learning new things about English.
I start to feel better. Bravery increases.
He does a good job of answering my questions about what my therapy will include and how it will work. At one point I ask how long I will be in traction. Partially to set myself mentally for how long I will be constrained and if I should listen to
Music on my phone. When I ask, he asks me why I want to know, immediately. I’m taken aback because it seems like a normal question. So I say “I’m just curious”. He says “ah! Curious ok. This part is maybe 18 minutes, then this part is 15
Minutes and then this is 20 minutes- so total time is like 1 hour. Probably less”. I’m not sure what kind of answer he expected me to give. Maybe he wanted to make sure I wasn’t on a timeline. – anyway. I asked him if it was ok to listen to music on my phone. He laughed and said, of course! It’s not jail here! You can do what you want.
I love Timothy. He handled the awkwardness of having me lay down and strap me in, also having to ask my weight and then realizing I had to convert it to kilos for him. He said several times I could just whisper the number, which I appreciated. He joked a little more. It was appropriate and professional and I liked his candor. He explained that he thinks Americans are funny and interesting and he has one patient who is British (English from England) – and he is boring and his face is always serious.
He handed me an emergency button and told me if I needed help to push it and it was for a bomb. Which would explode when I pushed it and help would come.
I want him to be my new best friend.
The rest of the session was awesome. He was great. I’m excited to go back tomorrow.
Tips for bravery: wear the right gear, bring the right tools, have chocolate, and coffee.
And you might just find an awkward portmanteau along the way.