Friday, March 14, 2014

Nothing to Fear, but Fear Itself...and Doctors; Don't Forget Doctors

"The only thing we have to fear is... fear itself." Or so said Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

Ready for bed, and smiling, but that's because the light's were still on.

When I was a little girl, I think I would have begged to differ with ole FDR. There was much to fear in life; I even had a list. I was afraid of the dark, tight spaces, dentists, mice, the TV show Dark Shadows (but I had to watch it, every day), monsters under my bed and in my closet, dying, and the one thing that sent me into hysterics: doctors. 

When my teen years hit, I added to my list: public humiliation, rejection, unrequited love, loneliness. And I was still afraid of doctors.

I have a fading memory of being in the waiting room of Dr. Amowitz's office when I was three or four, and Danny was still a baby. 

"Denise, no one is going to hurt you. Come out from under the couch." There were two sets of eyes peering at me in my hiding place, my mother's and the receptionist's. I was crying. As I recall, the word "NO" was coming from my lips. Frequently. And loudly. It took two grown women to drag me from the waiting room to the examination room. I could be obstinate when I wanted to be.

There were two things that worried me about the doctor's office: having to pull down my pants for anything other than taking a bath or going to the bathroom ALONE, and having hypodermic needles anywhere near me. I was very modest as a child, and being sensible, I avoided pain whenever possible. I figured my privates were called that for a reason. There was no need for anyone exposing them, and that was that.

I'm sure some well-meaning doctor's wife, Dr. Amowitz's one assumes, thought a display of Norman Rockwell's painting "Before the Shot" would look charming in one of the examination rooms. I hated that painting. To me, it just confirmed that adults are not to be trusted. They convince you to drop your pants, and before you know it, someone was coming at you with a shot. I was a kid, but I was no idiot. Doctor's equaled nudity and pain. I wanted nothing to do with either. No, thank you. 

To make matters worse, my little brother Danny had NO fear of doctors OR shots. "I'll go first, Mommy," he would say. My mouth hung open in disbelief. I didn't know if he were brave, or just an idiot. I went with idiot to console myself. 

Eventually, Dr. Amowitz moved away, and a new doctor came to town. Dr. Gordon K. Leonard. The young doctor was tall, slender, and very handsome. It didn't matter. He was a doctor, and therefore, not to be trusted. I pitched a fit every time I had to go to his office, too. 

I eventually overcame my fear of doctors and needles. It was after having my first baby, and being in so much pain that modesty was the last thing on my mind. Remove my clothing to deliver the baby? Yes, just get this over with. Throw my legs up in the air so nurses and doctors can get a better look? Sure, why not. Do I mind if a physician in training observes? Not at all, the more the merrier. You want to insert a needle over a foot long into my spine to take away the pain? Sounds wonderful. A woman who has been hauling another human being around inside of her for nine months will agree to anything during labor and delivery, if it will get the baby here sooner, and without any more pain.

What about that list, my childhood list of fears? I'm sad to report the only items that were removed from the list were doctors, and monsters. As an adult, I am learning that FDR may have been on to something, though. 

If fear is not knowing the outcome of an event, there is very little of which to be afraid. Roosevelt was just reminding us that fear squanders our resources of the present moment. It robs of our peace of mind. We only have this moment; to fear some unknown of the future is a waste of our precious now. I'm learning that once I release my being afraid of the unknown, there is very little left tfor me to fear. I'm working on it, letting go of fear, so that I am not controlled by it. Focusing on the present moment, which is real and known to me, is the only sensible thing to do. 


  1. What a great story! I thoroughly enjoyed this one!

  2. Loved it Denise and like the larger font too. I just rolled through your story very easily with you (felt those same feelings of doctors when I was a kid, even caused an accident once so mine shot himself through the lip instead of me.) You made this come alive with great description. Really enjoy your writing.


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