Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Comfort of Same

I laugh each time I walk into Crane's office. It never changes. It's like walking into a place trapped in time.

I don't remember what it looked like when I first started seeing him in 2000. I vaguely remember grilling him from a hospital bed during one of several transfusions needed around that time... but the office in the building he shared with a few others is a blank... well, outside of the waiting room and another therapist's dog who hung out there. I was disappointed when the dog didn't join him in the move later that year. I think Stephanie was downright pissed. Somehow, the idea that he had a dog in his office made him slightly more worthy of talking to sober.

In the eleven years since Crane moved his practice, nothing has changed. Occasionally a new stuffie appears on the chair by the door. It's piled high after all these years and the Eeyore we gave him is buried under the top layer. Beyond that and the height of the gravity-defying stack of charts on his desk, it remains the same.

I could close my eyes now and describe the entire office in detail, right down to the placement of the books.

I laugh at the sameness but recognize now the comfort in things that remain constant.

I used to laugh in surprise whenever Lyn would tell me weeks in advance of any change to her office or decor. It seemed silly to me to feel anxiety over something so trivial as the placement of a couch.

Then I walked into the local church-run free clinic.

The community need is so great and the program so new, each time I enter the building it's a whole new ballgame. The procedure hasn't been the same twice. If I went to the clinic on a more regular basis, perhaps it wouldn't be so jarring... but I sat there last night, scribbling this post in my notebook, waiting for the dentist and fighting anxiety because I'd been separated from family. I had to sit in the front row, with Charlie and Becka in the back because they weren't seeing the dentist. Seating people according to their need was a new one and one I hope doesn't last.

My constant wasn't by my side and so the continued change of the program was disorienting and disconcerting. I was so serious about getting out ASAP that if the little old lady who kept trying to pity her way ahead of me kept it up, I was just about ready to lose my Christian Witness.

It was enough to be in such pain and not know if they would be able to help that night... the newness of the procedure was wearing... as was feeling like I had to fight grown-ups over basic concepts like waiting in line and taking turns.

We got there at 4:45. The oral surgeon didn't arrive until almost 7:30. I was the last of the four people they saw last night and it was nearly 9:30 before they could see me. The pain got so bad I ended up leaving Charlie (who gave up his need for mine) in the waiting room while I went to hide in the car. Actual crying is rare enough for me. Doing it in public wasn't an option I was willing to consider, so to the car I ran.

Now it's all over, I can think about how hard it was to get through last night... and next time we go back I'll try to remember that despite the long wait and how different it was, I've never been turned away or treated poorly there.

And I'll take a deep breath and get through it.

But I won't laugh at the concept of sameness again.