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My medical phobia shows signs of remission

“FEAR: False evidence appearing real”

— Unknown

OK, so I have White Coat Syndrome. My cheeky blood knows when it’s being checked out in a medical facility and runs amok.

Following the appointment, they do a retake and always find it reined in. I won’t belabor the details of why I think this is true for me, but I know it’s common. I’ll confess. Fear of medical ills has prevented me from going for regular check-ups as I get along in years. When I was young and healthy, I didn’t mind. But now I’m older and healthy, so?

I tend to subscribe to managing physical woes with diet and exercise changes rather than pharmaceuticals. I’m a healthy eater. In fact, I have a big, big beef (local, grass fed) with prescription drug companies, the lawyers who love them, and doctors who see no other recourse.

I’m definitely not saying there is never a need for them, I just believe that the human body is wonderfully made and has the built-in mechanisms to heal when given the right ingredients and lifestyle. There are plenty of studies to back me up.

I had gone years without a proper going-over just because I believed I might have something like the heart disease or diabetes my grandpa had or Goby’s high blood pressure, or hoof in mouth disease, or any one of a rainbow of diseases I see people struggling with in slow motion on TV commercials. I had no logical reason for thinking I had any of these ailments, just a vague specter of gloom about it all. I didn’t have a primary care provider, what we used to call a family doctor. Looking for one who leaned toward a holistic approach without being a fanatic (another fear) seemed like looking for a hypodermic in a haystack.

Then I called Complete Care Health Center right here in Eagle Point because I liked what I’d heard and seen about their approach to wellness. I made an appointment with a nurse practitioner, Bronwen Erickson, for primary care. The day I arrived for my appointment, I was nervous and fidgety about all manner of imaginary scenarios — a side effect of writing fiction. From the moment I walked through the door my mood brightened. The woman at the front desk and others working there smiled and looked relaxed and happy in their surroundings, not frazzled as in some medical offices.

Their music did not intone blandly, “Welcome to a medical facility, a counter-reality to everything comfortable and relaxing, while trying like heck to make you relax.” There was a large screen showing videos of our beautiful, natural surroundings. And the waiting room was not crammed. Michelle showed me into the examining room at my appointed time.

She was friendly and easygoing as she employed the dreaded cuff, but my blood pressure bolted and I began to feel light headed. I saw before me a future of pills and ills. I am a wienie and I know it, but I’m confronting the issue. During the exam and consultation with Bronwen, an exchange occurred, as in, she listened to me and explained things thoroughly and in a positive, hopeful manner. BP was tamer after that.

You won’t catch me writing about medical issues often, but this experience marked a change in my outlook. I faced a blood draw that I had long avoided because years earlier a fledgling phlebotomist had seemingly tried sucking blood from a turnip, except the needle was in my arm. It took her at least 20 minutes to siphon three measly vials of blood. I escaped by passing out. But this time around, at Quest Diagnostics in Safeway, yes, Safeway, the draw was a brief non-event. All those years of dread combined with knowing what I should be doing potentially caused more damage in terms of stress than my life-long potato chip addiction.

I faced my fear and I’m ready to take on the world along with some dietary changes. Just don’t make me quit coffee, please. No!

— Peggy Dover is a freelance writer. Email her at pcdover@hotmail.com.