My feet tap uncontrollably as I find myself sitting in a waiting room at the surgery center—a gloomy health facility, yet again.
I find myself fidgeting relentlessly, trying not to heave as I do my best to accurately fill out a patient form that’s too many pages long.
The fact that I’m in a place like this for the second time today only frazzles my nerves even more, making the simple task of even holding a pen ten times harder.
It had taken me thirty minutes to get here from campus, including the fifteen minutes it took for my car to heat up enough for me to drive it. My Polo isn’t the easiest car to run, and winter only makes it that much harder.
The drive to Greenwood itself was fairly smooth, rattled only by the increasing nervousness I felt on my way here.
I tried extremely hard to keep calm, feeling my hands shaking as they gripped the steering wheel hard. Thankfully, I managed to get here without driving myself into an electric pole.
The sterile smell of the building makes me want to hold my breath until my face turns purple. My hands are trembling so badly that I’m still on page one of the patient form after ten minutes at it.
It seems like an eternity before I’m done, noting how much I struggle with filling out the sections that ask about previous medication and drug use and family history.
I glance at my watch.
Only ten minutes more.
I head over and hand the completed form to a receptionist behind a glass window, and she smiles politely at me as she takes it. She looks around thirty or so, with warm dark brown eyes and medium long hair to match.
“Doctor Templin should be done soon,” she says. “Just have a seat, okay?” Even her voice is kind, and I’m not sure if she’s being sweet because it’s just her nature or because she sees the distress written all over my face.
I nod and head back to where I was sitting. I’m even finding it hard to speak right now.
The minutes seem like eons as I sit here by myself, watching staff members in their scrubs and lab coats constantly walk up and down the hallways or bend into corridors or enter the elevators.
The morbidity I feel is too daunting, and the discomforting familiarity of being in this place makes me want to throw up.
The unmistakable sensation of bile rising in my throat unsettles me, and I have to grip the arm of the chair and hold my breath at the bitter, disgusting taste.
I feel myself break out in a cold sweat, beads of perspiration forming on my forehead, temples, and just above my lips. All telltale signs of one thing:
I’m going to be sick.
I dash to the nearest restroom and barely make my way into a stall before the remnants of what little coffee and bagel crumbs I had earlier come gushing up my throat and out of my mouth in a forced, painful strain.
I heave and heave as my stomach empties itself, and continues to do so even when there’s nothing left to get rid of.
Damn it. I knew I should’ve just skipped on breakfast.
I know better than to eat before coming to a place like this.
After several minutes, my gag reflexes take a break and I stop heaving. My brows furrow at the ill sensations I feel as I try to take in deep breaths and calm myself.
I feel my body give in and slump over the toilet bowl in exhaustion. I feel like I’m carrying dead weight, and my legs feel like heavy wooden stumps.
My temples are throbbing, and despite my efforts to control it, my breath is still coming out in short, shallow strains. I feel tears quickly welling up in my eyes, and I blink them back ferociously.
I can’t cry.
I won’t cry.
I’ve already done enough of that to last quite a few lifetimes.
I stand up, trying to balance myself on shaky legs as the bowl flushes itself automatically. I brace myself against the tile walls with hands that visibly tremble.
Blurry stars fill my sight, and I have to shut my eyes tight so that the dizziness and unease can pass. After a few moments of deep breathing, I begin to feel myself getting somewhat centered again.
I stumble out of the stall and head to the sink to quickly rinse my mouth out, putting a few splashes on my face as well. The cold water feels good against my skin, and it helps me calm down some more. I fight the urge to look up at myself in the mirror, afraid of what I know I’ll see;
A frightened little girl who, after six whole years, still can’t deal with her past.
I walk out of the restroom before uninvited memories that threaten to come rushing back get the chance to consume me. I can’t be by myself right now. As much I hate being here, I need to be around other people.
At least, for the sake of my sanity.