I always thought that when I grew up, I would become less fearful. Adults always looked like they had their shit together whereas I was afraid of not only real things--the possibility of strangers hiding behind one of the emaciated trees on my way to school--but unreal things too--what if aliens had somehow replaced my father with a replica of my father when he went into CVS and the person getting back in the car is really an alien who is going to yank my still-beating heart straight through my chest wall?
The night before my injections class, I was giving myself a pep talk that I learned from watching The State. Captain Monteray Jack was lecturing on something and during the Q & A session, and one of the students asks a "what if" question and Captain Monteray Jack responds, "what if my nose falls off and I can't smell? What if my pants fall off an everyone's looking at my weiner? You deal or you die."
I take sound advice wherever I can find it.
I tucked in the ChickieNob and Wolvog and came into the kitchen just in time to catch a black blur whizz into the living room. I took a different route into the room, jumping up on the sofa to survey the area. When I didn't see anything after a minute or two, I placed one foot tentatively on the floor and a mouse ran out from under the side table and skittered down the tiled hallway, darting behind the purse I left by the front door.
I screamed and screamed.
I called Josh and left a frantic message on his cell phone even though he was an hour away and wasn't going to be able to help me. I would have called our neighbour, but I couldn't bring myself to go into the kitchen to get his phone number nor was I going to be able to bring myself to walk towards the front door knowing the mouse was somewhere in that vicinity. So I called my mommy and daddy.
"Dad, I just saw a mouse," was all I gasped into the phone before I heard him sigh and say, "I'm getting in the car."
I spent the next hour waiting for him on top of the sofa, too scared to step down.
I've never been a particularly daring person, but I really couldn't wrap my mind around my reaction to this mouse. I stood on the sofa, trying to talk myself out of it. I had been thinking about getting a hamster for some time--what's the difference? In college, I would let my friend's pet rat climb up my arm, pretending I was the drug dealer from that 21 Jump Street episode where Johnny Depp infiltrated the teen drug center, moaning to anyone who entered the apartment, "I've got rats." In Milan, I stood in front of the duomo and let a man fill my hand with dried corn so that dozens of pigeons descended on me, covering my coat as if they were giving it the gift of flight. And what are pigeons except rats with wings? I never thought I'd react this way to a mouse. And as I write this, I am still twisting around in my chair to survey the room every minute or two. Glue traps are everywhere and the wall has been sealed with steel wool. But we still haven't caught him if he's still in the house.
I am having the same bashfulness over my fear of needles. I get blood drawn all the time and it's nothing. I don't stress about it beforehand. I just go and do it. What's the difference between a blood draw and a Follistim injection? What's the difference between a pet hamster and a mouse intruder? I can see my reactions are irrational and yet I still can't do anything about it.
The class contained three other couples. We learned how to draw the medication into the needle together and then were taken one by one out into a separate room to give ourselves the injection in front of the nurse. She asked me to go last so she could check on my medication order since it changed due to my higher FSH. When we were the final couple in the room, I was murmuring quietly to Josh and looking out the window and I may have had a tear or two escape as I explained how stressed I was between the mouse and treatments and work. The nurse returned to the room for a moment and looked at me incredulously. "Are you crying?" she asked in a tone that conveyed that it was not okay to be crying.
"Yes," I answered, wiping my face quickly.
She closed the door and went back to the other couple.
When she returned, she briskly went through my instructions and decided I didn't need to do the saline injection because I had already done this before and knew what to do. It was like getting a pardon from the governor. I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I could just do my injection at home in my usual wussy way with my ice cube. What's the difference? I get through it and if I believe it takes the pain away, why not do it?
As we were packing up, I told her about the mouse as an explanation for the earlier tears--see, too scared to even admit my real fear--and she confided in me that she was worried that I was crying over the injections. Sometimes, she confided, people were such babies about it. But I had been through treatments before and a vaginal delivery of twins so she knew "I was made of tougher stuff."
Except I'm not.
I'm the patient you just described--the baby who was so worried about starting back up with injections that she threw up this morning (to be fair, my usual response to stress is to vomit. I'm like Stan on South Park. When I developed hyperemisis gravidum with the pregnancy, I really wasn't sure at first if it was intense morning sickness or my pregnancy anxieties coming back up through my mouth). Who cried a little bit about putting a needle into my stomach even though a needle in my arm barely bothers me. Who stood on a sofa for an hour last night because she saw a mouse.
It feels like as I age, I become more fearful. Fearful of the real things--what I could lose, the worst that could happen--and the unreal things--killer mice who will attack me right when I'm getting into a blog post or nurses who remind me that if you want a baby, you deal or you die.