Not my finest hour

If I had to pick my finest hour, I would not pick yesterday between 3:00 and 4:00pm. Seeing as I’ve lived approximately 225 495 hours at the time of posting this blog (there are places on the internet to calculate such things for you), I have no idea which hour was my finest, but I can say with absolute certainty that yesterday between 3:00 and 4:00 is not even in the running.

And now I shall tell you a long story.

Yesterday I had an appointment with a specialist at 3:20pm in New Westminster. Now, I go to New West for specialist appointments all the time, but the appointment yesterday was not in the area of New West where all my other specialists hang out.

Before I left, as I do before I drive to any unknown location, I zealously mapped out my route and my back-up route. Google Maps told me it would take 24 minutes, but I gave myself 45 to account for extra traffic, and because being late is honestly one of the most stressful experiences for me. If we run into traffic on the way to a really painful medical procedure, I will genuinely be more stressed about not being on time than I will be about the procedure itself.

I’m not even kidding.

I’ve been like this my whole life. When I was in high school, Mondays made me nervous because that was my mom’s day off and since she didn’t need to get to work, my siblings always wanted to leave 10 minutes later in the morning. We left at 7:50 on Mondays instead of 7:40, which meant we arrived at school between 8:10 and 8:15 for an 8:25 start. But what if there was unexpected traffic? Or what if, as per usual, my brother wasn’t ready until 7:52? I started dreading Monday mornings on Sunday nights, that’s how much I hated even the chance of being late.

There are many more examples. You should ask Holly about the time at the Bellingham airport when I couldn’t find a parking spot.

I’m not particularly proud of the fact that the fear of being late transforms me into an agitated, stressed out, snappy person, especially since I hardly ever end up actually being late. It’s just that the possibility of being late makes me anxious. Heck, even sitting here and thinking about being late is making me anxious.

Anyway, back to my story.

I was driving to New West. The street I needed to turn down wasn’t obvious and I missed it. Woops. My back up plan was then foiled by a no left turn sign where I needed to make a left turn. Yikes. As possible get-back-on-track plans started racing through my mind, the busy traffic turned to gridlock. I was stuck. At 3:16 I started crying. My appointment started in 4 minutes and all I knew was that there was no way I could get there on time.

(I was on the 10th Avenue, by the way. Feel free to share your own 10th Avenue tragedies with me.)

Finally traffic moved enough that I was able to turn right down a side street and start heading back in the direction I needed to go, except I was on the other side of 10th and the street I was looking for doesn’t exist there. And then I was lost, but even more than that I was stressed and upset. My appointment had already started, I had no idea how long it would take me to get there, and I was in no shape to see a new doctor who I was hesitant about seeing in the first place.

So I pulled over on a random residential street and parked my car. I called the clinic. I lied and told them my car had broken down and I couldn’t make it. And truthfully, it wasn’t a total lie…my car was okay but I, the driver, had in fact broken down. And then I sobbed my eyes out for about five minutes before pulling it together (sort of), wiping my nose on my shirt sleeve (because when are meltdowns ever glamorous affairs?) and driving home.


Person crying in car spotted in New West. Wearing sunglasses – obviously suspicious.

If I’m being honest, my biggest motivation for pulling it together was that there were some parents walking their kids home from school and I was worried that one of them might call the police on me for suspicious behavior…I was, after all, wearing sunglasses, which all suspicious characters tend to do. The thought of explaining to the police why I was ugly crying over such an insignificant situation was embarrassing. What if it went on my record? It was safest to just drive home.

And that’s my story. It’s kind of sad, but it’s also kind of funny so if you find yourself wanting to laugh at me, it’s okay because now that it’s a new day I’m laughing at me, too.

As I said, 3:00 to 4:00pm on Thursday April 27, 2017, was not my finest hour.

Sure, the fact that I hate being late, especially for appointments, was part of it, but it wasn’t the only factor. Mostly I was just tired. Over tired. Exhausted. Things are just really hard right now and I’m exhausted all the time. I’m exhausted because I don’t feel well. Ever. I’m exhausted from having to fight so hard for my health. I’m exhausted from all the waiting. I’m exhausted because it never ends.

I’m exhausted from holding onto hope because believe it or not, hope can be exhausting. It’s hard to be hopeful that things will get better when things always seem to be getting worse. It’s hard to have hope that someone will be able to help me when everyone is at a loss. Hope is tiring right now.

Tiring, but still important. Still necessary. And still worth it, even when it takes all of my extra energy, and even when it means melting down in my car and missing an appointment. And even though I’m tired from being hopeful, I’m not tired of being hopeful. There’s a difference. Hope is wearing me out, but it’s also what’s keeping me going. Life is like that sometimes. So I keep hoping.

And I keep laughing, especially at myself.

I’ve rescheduled my appointment for next week. My sister helped me figure out another route. I’ll probably leave an hour early to be safe. And hopefully I won’t meltdown in my car. No promises, but I’m hopeful.

Exhausted, but still hopeful, and that’s all that matters just now.

P.S. I have put a box of Kleenex in my car for future such incidents, just in case.

23 thoughts on “Not my finest hour

  1. I am so sorry it was so stressful for you…hang in there. I figure we live pretty close to each other…and since I see that you like tulips I just wondered if you had been to the tulip fields , between abbostford and chilliwack. There used to be only a few but now there are lots , tour buses now go there. The ones right outside chilliwack are so pretty right now. Anyway I hope you were able to enjoy the great weather today…..hugs.

  2. The anxiety-late thing is SPOT ON. When I was 15 minutes late for work (because come on, while that’s still late i’m not in school anymore so it’s not like I’d get into detention for being more than two minutes late), I couldn’t bring myself to talk to my boss for the entire day (which was weird bcos she doesn’t micromanage these things so it’s not like she would have ostracised me for it – so it was a very one-sided not-on-talking-terms haha)

    Which also means yes I internally yell at myself things like YOU HAVE 15 MINS TILL WORK STARTS AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT WILL TAKE TOO LONG BY NOW and WHERE are the cabs?, but also WHAT’S THE POINT when even if I get a cab in two minutes it will take twenty to get there AND I WILL STILL BE LATE AND the world will hate me (etc. The only reason it sounds so exaggerated and crazy is cos that’s exactly the crazy, shouty brain conversation I have with myself when it happens. Heh oops.)

    That and I cancelled a psych appt at 8am on Tuesday, bcos .. I woke up at 8. And to get there would be 8.30 quickest which meant half the appointment gone. So I just headed to work directly (I don’t usually make such early appointments but in view of a public holiday on my usual slot + doing this out of work hours = 8am appt then head to work after. GAH) obviously not made for 8am appts …

  3. So many of us peas in this pod! When I get the chance (and it’s appropriate), I make a practice run to find where I need to go. Sometimes I can’t do that but when I can, I do! Take a deep breath and know you’re not in this alone! We’ve all missed appointments, had stress over this, had to, um, create a story to explain our guilty conscience in missing them, smiled, taken another deep breath, and carried on! Gentle hugs ❤

  4. Catherine: You are not alone in needing to be early. I try to get everywhere at least an hour early and even then I have moments like you did. I find driving in New Westminster daunting and I honestly believe the city planners have designed the roads so that people just keep driving until they have left the city. It is a deliberate attempt to keep outsiders out of New West. At least that is my take on it. Thank you for sharing. I have tried using GPS and sometimes it works well and others are a disaster. Even an hour early doesn’t help when you have no idea where you are and how to get where you need to go. I once drove to Seattle for a music concert and after spending 90 minutes in the pouring rain trying to find the house, I called the host and cancelled and drove the 4 hours home. I shed a few tears over that event. Best of luck on the next trip to New West. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  5. Oh Catherine I can so relate about being late for anything that I have to go to, especially appointments. I hate driving in New Westminister as the parking is bad. If I have an appointment there I give myself over an hour. You always amaze me by your perseverance to stay positive even when life is just hard. Lise

    • And around the hospital most of it is parallel parking! The horror haha. My car is tiny but I only feel safe if there’s a space big enough for a giant truck!

  6. Big hugs! I suspect that you’re upset not because of missing the appointment per se (you were hesitant about it in the first place so postponing that stress could be a temporary relief), but because being late goes against your values and in turn challenges your sense of who you are. Reliable, organised, polite, respectful Catherine who is never late. Even the most reliable and organised people are late sometimes. Reasonable people recognise that events occur beyond our control and mistakes are made – we are human (not robots) and things happen. We can’t control everything. The receptionists at the clinic are probably used to people running late or cancelling appointments. It’s part of the job so no worries about them. They are not going to judge you. The easy fix is just what you did – you let them know at the first opportunity (that’s still tespectful, polite and all those things) and made a new appointment. Lovely that you could get another so soon.
    I’m so sorry that you are feeling so weary. You are wise to recognise your exhaustion (emotional and physical) as the cause of your meltdown. It’s okay to put your hope aside for a short time to acknowledge your emotional exhaustion and grief, to rest and be less demanding of yourself.
    The anguish of illness is like nothing else. Thinking of you and wishing a turn for the better. You deserve a break. Hugs, Jodie xx

    • Yup, you got it. It just goes against my values! And makes me feel rude. I hate being an inconvenience. Sure makes it hard when you have no choice but to be an “inconvenience” when your body goes haywire and you’re stuck seeing doctors all the time and spending time in the hospital. After reading your latest post about needing to be an independent patient, I can’t imagine this is something you relate to at all 😉

      • I can relate to you, Catherine, in that I like to be on time also but my energy levels and adrenaline reserves have been so low that I cannot afford to endure unnecessary stress.

        In the past, I would have stressed about being late whether it was my fault or not. I used to feel embarrassed about being late and while I still don’t enjoy it, I don’t waste precious energy beating myself up about it or worrying about what other people think.

        When there are so many battles to fight, it pays to pick and choose those which are worth your energy and forget the rest.

  7. I have a fear of being late too, and my husband just goes with the flow. I need to get there in time. I NEED it.
    I hope you have no incidents on your way to you next appointment.
    Happen is a good thing. We need to be hopeful. Never give it up.

  8. Oi vey. Those moments do truly suck. I once got lost in ‘da hood’ proper on my way to a meeting in downtown KCMO. Scary and horribly frustrating. I was an hour late- should’ve just gone home.

    Here’s to hoping!

    • Ahh so stressful! An hour late…I probably would have burst into tears as soon as I arrived haha. Or felt the need to overcompensate for my lateness by being extra competent only to actually be annoying 😛

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