Like many patients, I detest going to doctors — especially since cancer entered my life. Whenever I’m in my oncologist’s waiting room I want to bolt out of there, jump in my car, and careen out of the parking garage. It really doesn’t matter that he’s a wonderful doctor and person. I just want to escape.
I also experience panic overdrive when I’m with other doctors, though less intense. I wonder, for example, will my gynecologist find ovarian cancer? Why am I in my mastectomy surgeon’s exam room so long? And the time spent in my internist’s waiting room seems unusually long — giving me way too much time to think about “what-if” scenarios.
I struggle to keep fears at bay.
After all, I expend too much energy in a world of medical memories, anguish, and possible flashbacks. When a doctor’s appointment is over, I feel like a wild animal finally freed from a cage into its wilderness home. And I’m always grateful I made it through another mental crucible.
Despite my tendency toward medical escapism, you might be surprised at what I’m about to say:
I’m too attached to my physicians.
I don’t want to be with them, but I want to live physically near their offices. This is an oxymoron, but there it is.
When I was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, I drove a half hour from home for each doctor appointment/treatment. I realize that some people have even longer commutes, but for me, the commute time was discouraging: I was driving myself to these exhausting appointments alone.
When my then-husband and I split, I knew how important it was for me to be physically close to my medical team. So I moved to an apartment that was a 10-minute drive from the hospital and my physicians’ offices.
And for years, I enjoyed the proximity of my doctors — as long as I didn’t have an appointment with them, that is.
I just liked having them around, nearby, just in case of an emergency, like a recurrence.
I had plans to stay in this apartment until retirement at the very least. It had everything I wanted and needed: proximity to my physicians.
But it also had a hefty price tag.
Rent skyrocketed right before I received my daughter’s referral from China. I could barely afford to live in the apartment by myself, let alone afford all the costs involved with parenting.
So one month before I traveled to China to get my daughter, I moved into a small house in a drastically cheaper suburb, where we live today. While this has been our financial and lifestyle salvation, I feel we have paid a price: we are now a 45-minute drive from our hospital and doctors. That’s without the famed Chicago traffic.
Still, I realize that, relatively speaking, our doctors are close.
But I still experience separation anxiety at times. My 10-minutes-from-doctors apartment spoiled me.
While I wish I could live closer to my doctor’s offices, I realize that living farther away might be a blessing in disguise. I have no medical memories in our suburb. And that is liberating. Besides, doctors leave their practices and retire. Nothing is forever, and this can be a good thing.
How important is it for you to live close to your doctors’ offices?
How do you handle anxiety in your doctors’ offices?
Tags: doctors, physicians, proximity to doctors, stress and doctors