Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Have a Confession to Make

I think I'm from Mars.

Of course, I've recognized this before in the abstract. Every time someone starts talking about the differences between men and women, the "men" descriptions sound a lot more like me. But this week it hit home in the concrete when my dear friend Barb's husband had an emergency appendectomy. And Barb, she was a little put out because her husband drove himself to the hospital with a ruptured appendix and notified her once he was on the gurney and headed into surgery.

And you know, I sympathized. I really did. I understood why she was upset, and how stressful it was not to be able to see him before he went into surgery and all that. I felt her pain.

But I had a secret.

See, in her husband's shoes, I would have done exactly the same thing. It just MAKES SENSE. I can totally see, since I was introduced to the situation from her perspective, that it was a little insensitive. But I also know beyond a doubt that in his circumstances, that would never have crossed my mind. After all, just getting in the car and going was the fastest, most efficient way to get the problem taken care of.

In fact, I'm not just speculating. Several years ago when my blood pressure skyrocketed, I drove myself to a clinic fifteen miles away and then called a friend from there and asked him to pick up my daughter at school. The second time my blood pressure got dangerously high, I discovered it at work, when I walked into the bathroom saw that all of the blood vessels in my eyes were broken. I returned to my office, Googled for the nearest walk-in clinic, casually told my boss that I was going to lunch and walked to the doctor's office. It was only after the doctor said I couldn't leave the office until my blood pressure was down that I called work to let them know I wasn't coming back, and only after they decided to ship me over to the hospital that I called my family.

I wasn't trying to play hero or exclude anyone, and I didn't think I was being reckless. I just couldn't see a reason to cause a fuss, and I took the most expedient route to do what needed to be done. In retrospect, of course, I can see that there were risks. At the time, I was very focused on the quickest, most hassle-free way to take action. If I told my boss what was going on, conversations would have ensued: Did I think I'd be back? Did I need someone to go with me? Would I call when I knew what was going on? My head felt like it was going to blow open and I knew I only had a few minutes before I vomited again and I didn't want to have a discussion. I wanted to get to the doctor.

Until I saw the situation from the other side this week, it never crossed my mind that other people might have feelings about my choices. Perhaps more importantly, it never crossed my mind that anyone else might have a right to have feelings about how I took care of myself. Managing crisis mode is a very narrow state of mind.

And now I get it. I really do. But I'm pretty sure that when the next emergency situation arises, I'll react exactly as I always have.

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