I was sitting on the exam table waiting for my doctor to do the polite knock and enter that they must teach in the first year of medical school. The large white sheet of paper that they could use as a table cover at a Maryland crab house was crinkling under my butt. I was wearing shorts. My legs were dangling over the edge of the table, the skin on the back of my thighs was sticking to the red vinyl table covering. I was sweating. I was nervous.
Knock- Knock. The door swung open. Dr. Christina smiled as she entered the room.
Dr. Christina was by far the best medical professional I have ever met. She was my doctor for the past few years. She did everything right. She did not talk down to me. She did not judge me. She took her time explaining everything to me. You could tell that Dr. Christina loved what she did. And what she did was treat the patient and not the symptoms or the disease. She treated people.
Still smiling Dr. Christina said hello and placed her laptop on the counter, and turned to shake my hand. I felt like a little kid with my legs dangling off the table so I scooched off the exam table to shake her hand. My bare legs rubbed against the vinyl.
"Uh, Hi. That wasn't me. I mean it was me, but it was my legs rubbing the...not a..uhmm. You know..what I mean." I stuttered as I shook her hand.
"I know." She said. "So what brings you in today? How is the Sertraline working for you?"
Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Basically it balances the chemicals in the brain.
"It seems to be working. I feel a lot better, less anxious." I said. "But that is one of the reasons why I am here. You know how I am allergic to all kinds of drugs? Well I do not think I am allergic but I need to ask about some possible side effects."
"Ok, like what?"
"For someone who is experiencing panic attacks and anxiety and some social anxiety I think my, uhh, issue is causing more anxiety. The Sertraline is definitely making me feel better but if the side effects out weigh the benefits then I need something else."
"Why you think it is due to the drug." she asked.
"It has only been happening since I started on the meds."I replied.
"Ok. What are your symptoms?" She reached for her laptop.
"Ok. I can feel my heart racing right now. I feel, this is difficult. I wouldn't really call it a symptom."
Some of the medical terms and explanations in the following paragraph have been changed to protect the innocent, those easily embarrassed and various word searches. This is what I explained to my doctor.
My body is constantly ready to go camping. My tent is ready almost all the time. Even if I go camping, and I really like camping, my wife does not like to camp that much, but even when I am done camping, my tent is ready. I could be sitting at my desk at work and all of the sudden I have an urge to go camping. My tent is ready. My tent is ready for a few hours at a time. And it is not like I am thinking about camping. I am not looking at camping websites. It just happens. It happened in the grocery store the other day. I started freaking out. I almost went into a full panic attack. My body just thought I was ready to go camping. It is really embarrassing me and causing me all kinds of anxiety. I know this is not a bad problem to have because I sure there are people out there that cannot even get a tent. I just need to figure out why. Is it my brain? Is it my body? Is it the meds?
People who have chemical imbalances sometimes question what is real and what is just in their head. This is the worst part about about anxiety or mental issues. This is why people do not discuss it. It is tricky.
When I finished explaining my face was flush, my palms sweaty.
Dr. Christina smiled, "It's okay. The usual side effect is the opposite of what you are experiencing. But there are rare cases of this. But we need to rule out other possibilities. I need to take a look"
She snapped on a blue rubber glove.
Thank god I did not feel the need to go camping right then.