Doctor’s Orders

Yesterday I spent my morning waiting for and receiving several routine tests at a hospital clinic. I sat in a walled off area with about ten other women, all dressed in matching pink robes, all going through the same protocol that women of a certain age are supposed to do once a year. In today’s world, the scene was perfectly normal, a public service announcement for self care.

Only nothing felt normal. I was there for the second time in two weeks. The first time I rushed out before they could tell me that I needed more and different tests. Even though I knew this was a common issue for me, there is always that inkling of fear. I could see the same vague, underlying tension on the faces of my fellow patients as they played on their phones and stared at fashion magazines. The purpose of this test is to determine if anything is wrong and no one wants anything to be wrong. Yet, there is strange comfort in knowing if anything is wrong, these procedures may catch it early enough to cure.     

In spite of the ominous anticipation, it occurred to me how grateful I am to live in a time where there are so many routines around physical health. Mornings like this force me to consider if I have been neglectful in taking care of my body and what I could do better. I extended this thought to other aspects of my life. Do I have the same rigor around my social, emotional, mental or spiritual health? Is there a scan that tells me I need to be more kind to others, or create more quiet time to meditate, or wonder at ideas bigger than my office? If I do start to slide into defeat and melancholy, do I know the signs? Can I catch it early? And what then? What are my methods of healing mind and spirit?

After a very busy, very intense few months acclimating to a new position in my company, I am realizing that I may need a more holistic check in. I am not sure what this looks like. I don’t have the doctor’s orders, the pink robe, or the diagnostic tools that will help me assess how I am doing. I have never been an expert at identifying and responding to my own needs. But sitting in the waiting room, working furiously to catch up on emails with not one but two devices, I noticed that the woman next to me was reading a real paper book, turning the pages slowly, one by one. She seemed more peaceful than the rest of us. She was taking this time for herself – physically and mentally – instead of perceiving the appointment as an inconvenience. Perhaps the pause in her day was as preventative as the test itself.

I keep a bottle of vitamins next to my computer screen at my desk. At some point during the day I randomly remember that taking one would be a good idea and I do. It is such a small thing, yet I am silly proud every time I swallow. This week I am going to find one other thing I can do for my well being: listen to one song, read one page, crochet one row, send one thank you note, sit quietly for one minute. I want to capture the same imperative that I feel for medical recommendations – to keeping my whole self intact.

My tests turned out fine, it just took more time to determine. Apparently some parts of me are rather dense. Duly noted.




Pandora spends most of her time tinkering with bits of words, fabric and yarn. She lives in Chicago with her husband and a pug. She has two grown up sons who have many adventures.

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8 Responses

  1. Liz says:

    I really love this, Pandora. I love the idea of holistic self-care, and trying to be in tune with myself enough to figure out which part of me is in need of some care. This seems silly, but I’ve been meaning to schedule a haircut for six months now (my last one was 18 months ago…). You’ve inspired me to make the call right now.

    • Pandora says:

      I am so happy you are calling!! Now you made my day!!

    • Jenny says:

      Ha ha Liz, I just got a haircut the other day that I’ve been putting off for months too. It’s funny how such a simple thing can make you feel so good, but be so hard to accomplish at the same time.

  2. Cruelest Month says:

    Just scheduled two needed appointments. Thank you for the self care reminder!

  3. Jenny says:

    Great reminder Pandora! I love the analogy you created with routine medical scans because I think our bodies are so technologically advanced in their ability to notify us when we’re not caring for them well enough. So often we override the warnings they give us. I love your simple ideas of checking in with ourselves.

  4. Rachel says:

    “This week I am going to find one other thing I can do for my well being: listen to one song, read one page, crochet one row, send one thank you note, sit quietly for one minute. I want to capture the same imperative that I feel for medical recommendations – to keeping my whole self intact.” I want (and need) to do this, too. Thank you. And I am so glad your tests came out ok.

  5. EmilyCC says:

    I love this…why aren’t there better diagnostic tools for our mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being?

    • Masako Barrowes says:

      Emily, I have asked the same question many times. I think, may be because our mind, spirit, and emotion would not die from severe pain, injury, or illness. We tend to neglect to care for it while we are aware of our mortality of our bodies and desperate to survive from anything.

      Pandora, I loved it. I love the way you ponder in life. I love the fact you are checking yourself! I believe also that the early detection or preventative measure for any problem (breast, viral, depression, fear, etc, etc) would be a way to go. I might write a thank you note this week. Thank you.

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