Tag Archives: anger

Working too hard can give you a heart attack-ack-ack-ack

18 Apr

March was a rough month for me. I brought it all upon myself but that didn’t make it any easier. The head technician at work took the month to go tour around Asia, and I volunteered to cover his shifts. This meant a month of working 6 days a week and close to 60 hours. Add on top of this cat sitting, dog sitting, studying for my final semester of school and this led to a life limited to work and animals. Work wasn’t the most joyful either. I had to work with Dr. Z who is quite possibly the most difficult, arrogant man in the world. But he signs my paychecks, so I have to grin and bear it. We also took in a precious little pug puppy who after weeks of intense nursing passed away, leaving me devastated but too burnt out to even think of sitting down and crying.

At night I would come home (sometimes to cat/dog sitting clients’ apartments), eat, shower, study as much as possible, and maybe allow myself a bit of time to write in my journal or read. The exhaustion of a long day would overcome me as I turned out the light. This is when my heart would start to pound. I could feel it in my ears, in my hands, in my feet. Breathing would become difficult. It felt almost as if I was drowning. I’ve been having nighttime anxiety attacks for the last 3 or so years, but those were maybe once every other month. This was happening every night. I became accustomed to listening to Buddhist podcasts I had downloaded. I used them to slow down my breathing, to let go of anger, to breathe loving presence into myself. But night after night, there it would be, my pounding tell-tale heart. As my anxiety attacks became worse and more frequent, I found myself almost unable to focus on the teachings. I could hardly even focus on the words the teachers were saying.

Then one night, toward the end of the crazy work run, I left work and on the train home thought over the list of things that I had to do: catch up on schoolwork, update blog, clean the bathroom, book flights to San Francisco. But as I walked into the door of my apartment, I said fuck it all and changed into my workout clothes, grabbed my boxing gloves and went to the kickboxing center. Every muscle in my body felt wound up, and I guiltily walked into the room, knowing my instructor has noticed that I haven’t been in to work out in a month. He just smiled at me though and said welcome back.

The workout began. Running, jumping jacks, burpees, crunches, planks, and the millions of varieties on all of these. But unlike other times when I have worked out, I moved with an intensity, with an energy burning inside that I was unaware of. When we got to the point in the class where we got to punch and kick the bags, I went crazy. I hit and kicked harder than I knew was possible. With each swing I thought of all the things that have made me angry, disappointed, frustrated. I saw the face of Dr. Z and punched with each condescending thing he has said to me. I thought of the puppy dying. I thought of people shoving me on the train. I thought of every moment where I tried to breathe through an emotion instead of confronting it.

I felt a light tap on my shoulder, as my instructor told me class was over. I was dripping with sweat, breathing heavy, every muscle in my body shaking.

“Good workout today, champ,” he said to me. All I could to was nod and try to catch my breath.

At home in the shower, I felt elated. I felt ready to take on the world. My mind was awake and refreshed and clear. I thought of things I wanted to write, places I want to go, paths I want to go down. I felt like I could deal with it all. “Bring it, world. I can take on anything.” And that night, my heart stayed calm as I slipped into sleep with ease.

I love Buddhism. I love what it teaches, but I can’t help but disagree with this idea of sublimating anger and negative feelings. Maybe I’m not doing it right or I’m approaching it wrong. Maybe my crazy workout fits in with Buddhism. I didn’t take my anger and put anything negative into the world. I didn’t hurt anyone, start a fight, say something that I might later regret. I did nothing but strengthen my body and improve myself. But it had to come out. All that anger. It didn’t go away with breathing.

Life is back to a beautifully healthy balance now. And my workouts have stayed intense. Maybe they are a form of meditation in themselves. A way to exist in the present moment, to feel alive and aware and connected. To confront the truth. Maybe sometimes the truth is simply that I’m angry and that’s okay.



13 Nov
All American Girls Professional Baseball League: Rockford Peach for Halloween

All American Girls Professional Baseball League: Rockford Peach for Halloween

Last Wednesday was the final game of the 2014 softball league I play in. The MTA conspired against me and both the trains I took to the field were running late. I showed up to the field as the first inning was starting, running to our dugout in time for my teammates to tell me that I was next up to bat. I try to stretch my arms a bit before stepping up to the plate.

I knew the team we were playing was undefeated, and since I was late I wanted a good look at what the pitcher was throwing. So I let the first ball fly past me.

“Strike 1!”

It was. But now I knew what I was looking for, that same smooth pitch over the plate. But the next ball she threw was a bit outside, and I don’t like to reach. However…

“Strike 2!”

Hmmm, didn’t agree with that, but whatever. Deep breaths, Wilson. Wait for yours.

“That bat is made for swinging, honey.” I hear from a gruff voice behind me. I turn around in horror, expecting this snide remark to have come from the opposing team. Instead I saw the elderly umpire snarling at me in a creepy smile. Furious, I try to lock back into the pitcher. She throws a ball, which again, looks a bit outside. Yet…

“Strike 3!” I was out.

I walk to the dugout and ask if I can play at second as I’m a bit ticked at the umpire and don’t want to play catcher and be in his proximity. The following inning, I did play catcher though, firmly resolved to not speak to this umpire. After two outs, one of the team’s best players comes up to bat. One strike. Two strike. Third pitch… he hits it foul. I extend my arm to my left and dive into the dirt, using my other hand to lock the ball in my mitt.

“OUT!” I hear the roar of my teammates cheering for me, and I smugly think to myself, “How’s that, honey?” But I say nothing and jump around in excitement with my teammates telling me how proud they are.

A couple of innings later, I’m back up to bat. I’m one and one at this point. After my questionable strikeout, I hit a good single. You see, I’ve been doing a lot of kickboxing lately. My body is stronger. My upper body, my core, my legs. I can feel the strength growing in them, and it feels amazing. My hitting has improved so much. I’m making good contact, and I finally finally have a wee bit of power behind my hits.

So there I am. First pitch is a little high, but I swing and miss.

“Sweetheart,” I hear behind me. “You need to step with your front foot. Step with your front foot, okay?”

I don’t turn around. I just face the pitcher and silently scream in my head. I don’t need this stranger to tell me how to bat. I don’t want him to tell me how to bat. All in all, I’m doing just fine on my own. I’ve gratefully accepted advice from friends, boyfriends, flings, first dates in the past, but all solicited, all with me starting the conversation of how I can improve my batting. This man doesn’t know me.

Finally my pitch comes. I hit it hard. I make it to first, and in a perfect yet imaginary world I hit it like Ken Griffey Jr., running to first base with bravado, looking over my shoulder to say “Don’t ever call me sweetheart again.” But in the real world, I keep my chin up and run as hard as I can focusing on making it in plenty of time.

Later at the bar, my teammates congratulate me on a good game. I tell them about the comments from the umpire, and they likewise respond with disgust. But they also claim that maybe a bit of that rage was good for me, they joke about calling me honey/sweetheart before every at bat. I laugh.

But I’d prefer they not. Unless you’re someone I’m romantically involved with or you’re my mother or a good friend comforting me in a difficult time or someone who has earned that familiarity with me in some way or another, please don’t.

Urgent Care

7 Sep

When this situation happened to me a couple of days ago, I was mildly annoyed and uncomfortable, but the more I think about it, the more upset I become.  And when I’ve told co-workers and friends the story, the look of horror on their face has made me realize how much worse the situation was than I realized.

I’ve been sick. A week or so ago, my left submandibular lymph gland became swollen. Last weekend my ear started hurting…a lot. By Wednesday this week, I was sent home from work for “looking like death” and feeling dizzy and nauseous. By Thursday I decided it was time to see a doctor. I walked to an Urgent Care near my boyfriend’s apartment where I had been staying the night before. I was taken into a children’s exam room, walls covered with Toy Story stickers and sneaker scuff marks on the walls. A nurse look my vitals and asked me some questions about my ear pain.

About five minutes later, a doctor walks in. He doesn’t introduce himself. He doesn’t even say hello. He walks up to me, stands about a foot from my face.

“Your eyes are puffy,” he says to me.
“Oh, that’s not why I’m here. My ear hurts.”
“You have dark circles under your eyes.”
“I know. I’ve had them since childhood. That’s not why I’m here.” He lifts his hand to my face and runs his fingers along the skin under my eyes.
“We are in the same boat, you know. I have rings under my eyes too. I know what it’s like.”
I sit there silently, confused as to why he’s talking about this. He goes on for the next 5-10 minutes telling me about different products from Clinique that he has used and that I should use. All I can think about is how much pain I’m in and how all I want is a prescription to fix it, some advice on what I can do to make it better.

Once he finishes my makeup lecture, he finally looks at the notes the nurse took and grabs an otoscope. Not to look in my ear mind you. He comes over and asks to look at my throat. I open up and say, “Ah.”

“So do you use cucumber or ice packs or anything?”
“On my ear? No. I’ve put a warm towel…”
“No, your eyes!” he interrupts me.
“Oh, no. I don’t. I put makeup on sometimes.”
“Do you…not care?”
“No, no I don’t.”
He sighs and turns away from me, “It’s just that most women CARE about their appearance.”
I sit there feeling awkward, reminding myself in my head that at least my boyfriend thinks I’m pretty. It can’t be all that bad.

He comes back over and uses his stethoscope to listen to me breath.
“Well I think you have a throat infection. I’m going to give you an antibiotic, take some advil, and you’ll need more vitamin C this winter. Oh, and get plenty of sleep. I’m not going to see you in the club at 4am tonight, am I?” He turns to me and smiles.
“I don’t go to clubs.” I mentally decide I hate this man.
“Okay, come with me, and we’ll get you some prescriptions.”

I follow him to his office where he writes up the prescription. THEN, he goes on the Clinique website and starts showing me the products he thinks I should use. I’m not paying attention. All I want is my prescription so I can start taking care of the ear that is throbbing with pain.
“You know, these products would only cost you about 60 bucks and they’ll last you like five months. It’s an investment you really should make.”
“Can I just have my prescriptions?” I say coldly.

Three days later. I don’t feel better. My ear is throbbing. I get out of the subway after work to go to a different urgent care. I walk by this one and see him standing outside. I’m so furious. I’m also incredulous at how unprofessional the whole experience was. How dare he critique my appearance? I rolled out of bed and went to a doctor’s office in pain, not to have my makeup criticized. I wish I’d said something.

Ear Cropping

17 Jul

People always ask me if my job is sad, or if it is hard to deal with the losses. It is. There’s no doubt in that. But most of the time, the animals are sick, tired, old, and they are ready to go. It feels natural.

But last Saturday, one of the cases we saw really got to me, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

We had a new puppy visit, a dog who had been picked up from the breeder the day before. Usually, these are happy appointments. Who doesn’t love an awkward and cheerful puppy? They jump all over you, they squirm, they get a confused look on their face when we take their temperature for the first time.

This puppy visit was a doberman. Doberman puppies are adorable. They have massive, club-like paws and soft muzzles. Unfortunately, they are often wearing the funny hats pictured above. Dobermans were originally bred to be guard and attack dogs. Owners started cropping their ears, so that attackers wouldn’t be able to grab onto them during an attack. Since then, it has become an AKC (American Kennel Club) standard for the breed. So the snobs of the world insist on keeping the tradition alive for appearances sake.

So nowadays, at the tender age of 7-12 weeks, doberman puppies (this is done in a couple of other breeds as well) are taken to a vet to have 2/3 of their naturally floppy ears cut off, stitched up, and taped to a Styrofoam cup on their heads. This is in hopes that their ears will eventually stand up on their own. If they don’t, further surgery is required. Again, let me reiterate that this is done for purely aesthetic reasons to comply with what the AKC says a doberman should look like.

So on Saturday, I held the sweet Doberman puppy while Dr. R cleaned the pus from the ear wounds and tried to remove the tape as gently as possible. The puppy screamed in pain and wiggled in my arms. It broke my heart. Hearing a puppy cry is always a sad, sad moment. But this stung especially, because it was so unnecessary. Dr. R explained to me that it is all because of the AKC’s standards and that most vets refuse to do the ear cropping procedure, herself included. It is even illegal in many European countries.

It’s so senseless. I brought the newly bandaged puppy back to her owner. She was texting away on her iphone. She had a Louis Vuitton purse on the chair next to her. And I was bringing her back her newest accessory. Of course, it wasn’t my place to say anything. But all I really wanted to know was, aren’t floppy ears just as adorable? Isn’t this just as fashionable?

Quality Advice from Dr. G

27 Apr

SPROUT! I want a Brussels Griffon. I want one real bad.

The above dog has nothing to do with this post, other than the fact that I took it at work, and this story also takes place at work. Honestly, I’m just trying to lure you in to read my blog, because I’m sly like that.

So the worst part about working in Veterinary Medicine is the people, the clients that inevitably come with their dogs. Ironic, right? People get into this field, because they want to spend their day with animals. Yet so much of the time is spent dealing with people. And people, in general, aren’t that pleasant.

Some people are wonderful though. Like Dr. G. He’s my favorite doctor at our clinic. He’s older, so a lot of us call him “Pops” which has always been a goal of mine…to have an old man friend whom I call Pops. He’s a lifelong Yankees fans, so we’re always discussing our teams. He continuously attempts to bring me to the dark side, make me a Yankees fan. With other Yankees fans, I find this sort of thing annoying; with Dr. G, it makes me smile.

He’s also the only doctor that doesn’t lose his temper, that doesn’t freak out at clients, never blames any one else if things go wrong. His interactions with clients are legendary. For example:

“Dr. G, is my dog going to die?”
“Well, yeah, one day. We all are. I just don’t know when your dog will die.”
“What am I supposed to do?!!?!”
“Stop worrying about your dog so damn much.”

He’s the only one who can get away with saying this sort of thing.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a client who was persistently calling the front desk, driving us all insane. She was sobbing about how her main vet had left the practice, how someone in her building told her the food she fed the dog was garbage, how she was a single mother and couldn’t afford vet bills. Basically, she called to complain about things that don’t concern me, and I can’t fix. She just wanted someone to whine to.

Finally, she stopped in to the clinic and demanded to speak to a doctor. She was crying and yelling, but she didn’t want an appointment. We only had Dr. R and Dr. G available. Dr. R was doing an emergency emesis, so I approached Dr. G. He rolled his eyes and said, “Oh, these fucking idiots.” Then he straightened his embroidered scrubs and asked, “So, how do I look?” I gave him the nod of approval, and he headed out there.

20 minutes. This woman ate up 20 minutes of an important man’s time. She ranted. She cried. She whined. He sat there. He nodded. He told her his food recommendations. It did not look like fun.

Eventually she left, and I followed him back into the treatment area.

“That was amazing, Pops. I don’t know how you handled that woman for that long.”
“Let me tell you something I learned a long time ago,” he began. All of treatment turned to listen to the wise, old doctor. “It takes two people to argue. One person can complain and cry and scream all they want, but if you sit there calm, you aren’t in an argument, you aren’t upset. The second you raise your voice and give in to anger, they’ve won. They pulled you into a fight. So I listened to that woman’s crazy rant. And even though I sat there for 20 minutes and could only think, ‘Go fuck yourself, you crazy bitch,’ I didn’t say it, and she didn’t get to win.” All of treatment erupted in laughter and applause.

I lose my temper with clients every once in a while, but I’m really trying the Dr. G method of dealing with it. It really does work. I’m not as good at it as Dr. G is, but I suppose I have 40 odd years to perfect my craft.