Vulnerability.

Shuffling exhaustion.

Drunk tired, barely coherent,
Sober as day but wishing I wasn’t.

I am here.
A place I don’t want to be.
But still, I chose to show up.

I’m sitting in the waiting room with one word on my mind. The “C” word.

I observe a swift closure of my airways. I observe my neck muscles have seized up as if a scarf has been wrapped around and around, pulled to suffocation. My first instinct is to start massaging the area of my neck where one would go in search of a pulse, as if that would loosen the grip. It doesn’t.

The next impulse is to search my head for gripping and tension, as well as drawing focus on my breath.

“Okay body.
Long deep belly breaths.
Expand and release.
Elongate the breath.”

I focus on the throbbing of my right temple when I inhale and imagine a relaxation melt in. I sense a slight panic. The migraine sensations always begin on the right side for me. I’m not ready to endure that pain. Not here, not ever.

“breathe breathe breathe.”

I am a yoga instructor, I cannot unlearn things. Of course in times of panic I would move to body awareness and breath. It’s the medicine that has saved me many times before, why would this moment be any different?

Awareness draws back into right temple. Warm, tense, but not throbbing in the tsunami waves that a migraine causes.

Awareness rolls down my head, neck, spine, stopping at my stomach. I can taste the metallic blood scented salvia, the yellow caution light before throwing up.

“breathe.”

Back to the temple,
Right temple.
Back to the nausea.

An urge to flea takes me over.
I contemplate leaving,
Pretending to get something from my car,
Using the washroom,
Anything to pull me out this moment.

Maybe I should let he nurses know that I feel like I might vomit. But that would mean I would have to pick my body up off the chair, try to refocus hazy eyes and try to sink into my voice.

I veto leaving.
I lack the strength in this moment to stand.

I pause,
Sinking deeper.

I have trust that the body’s stress response will be my fuel when it’s time to be summoned. It can’t come soon enough. The dread building in the sterile waiting room is proof that silence is the most obnoxious sound of them all.

.. What do I even say?

“how are you Kerri?”
“I’m good.”
“So what brought you in today?”
“Well. I don’t want to be here. But my brother needs a bone marrow transplant and if I can’t be there emotionally for him, maybe you can take my guilt away by telling me we are a genetic match. I would be very grateful if you could say yes, Kerri, you are a valid donor. We can start the process immediately.”


“And..?”

            “… And I have been told that I am in immediate need to get tested, as per the Cancers specialist in Calgary. I know I am fine. But he made the order as my Dad died from complications of this Cancer. And because I have ITP, well, you know, ITP being an autoimmune disorder of the platelets and well, with bone marrow… yeah you know.
“But it’s also ok not to test me. I could tell my mom what she needs to hear so she doesn’t worry- so she can focus on my brother’s recovery, and her own. She’s been sick this past year and I almost lost her twice. She’s the last family member I have, and I don’t want to be the reason her heart starts to fail herself, so if it’s a hassel, we can begin the lab tests another time.
“… Unless I decide to keep living in sweet anonymity- to travel the amongst Indian dreams, whims of a poet on a carefree exploration of the world. Perhaps once I rebuild home at UBC upon arrival, we can find out then.
“It’s ok. Trust me. I would know if I were sick. I will bring myself in immediately if I sense it. Please. I’m good. Ok?”

I am brought back to the awareness of the mimicking radio ads filling the ambience of the waiting room. I bring myself back in my body.

Right temple. A tense buzz.
Both eyes. Fire. Allergies aflame.
Breath. I can’t breathe in all the way or my runny nose will cry.
I am so god damn tired.

I heavily blink my eyes,
Gently rolling my head,
Soft like melancholy.

I want to close my eyes.
Is falling asleep in public that much of a social faux pas?

I’ve spent enough time to know the trigger of my anxiety is either my shines/ feet or neck. It’s here. My fucking neck. As if my neck pulse is guarded by enlarged flexed muscles trying to stop the heartbeat.

—   “Kerri Presslee”.

My name called rattles all internal thoughts.
It’s time. Here we go.
All the sensations in my body dissipate.
I gracefully transition, autopilot,
My greatest defense and strongest ally.

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