Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Sara and Melissa Talk About...Facing Our Fears

We've been running a column series (for over two years now!) to get more personal with our readers. This month, we're talking about facing our fears. Lots of characters have to rise to this challenge and we have to do this in real life too. 

We're always open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them.

Sara Steven:

Thirteen months ago, my husband purchased a food sensitivity kit for me, for my birthday. It was a really nice gesture, considering I’d expressed interest in the kit for quite some time. I can still recall the excitement I’d felt while slipping the lid from the rectangular-shaped box, eager to start my journey into figuring out why certain foods lead to what I call “flare ups,” potentially contributing to my recently-diagnosed EoE (Eosinophilic Esophagitis). But after reading through the instructions and eyeing the tiny white and blue lancets, I immediately placed the lid back on the box and walked away. 

Courtesy of InnerBody

I walked away for over a year. 

The box sat on my kitchen island for a couple of months at first, sometimes covered by other things that my kids or husband would set aside–which I was fine with. No one noticed. But then my husband did notice, and asked me when I planned on taking the test. Which prompted me to remove the box from the island, finding a better home for it on my desk in my bedroom. 

I repurposed it as a coaster for my tea mugs. Or a placeholder for documents or various writing projects. I saw it every day, the food sensitivity kit, but I left it there, knowing full well I’d get to it later. Or the next day. Maybe next week. Sometime soon.

It wasn’t until last month when my stepmom had come to visit and had heard the story of the infamous sensitivity test and that I had yet to use it, that I had to revisit actually going through with it, and using the damn test. But it was just so hard. Imagining the lancet poking through my finger, drawing blood, made me sick to my stomach. It took me back to those painful memories of my youth when I was forced to have a finger poked in order to test my blood for this, that or the other–memories that did nothing but only increase the unease I felt. I knew I needed to “suck it up” and go through with it, or I’d never get results, but knowing that didn’t make the fear go away. It only increased the anxiety I felt. 

My stepmom encouraged me to take the test–she might have badgered me just a bit, but I knew the time had come to just do it. I stuck my hands under warm running water, one of the tips offered within the instructions, shaking them at my sides to get the blood flowing downward. After a few minutes, I sat in a chair while she held my hand, my husband drawing my attention to him and not to the lancets. I won’t lie and say I didn’t feel the poke on the right side of my ring finger. I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t freaking out. You have to let the blood from your finger drip down onto the paper they provide that collects the sample, and knowing it was MY blood made me queasy. I tried hard to focus on what the end result would be, which would be potentially discovering food sensitivities that bug me. And I kept my eyes closed the entire time.

Afterward, my finger throbbed a bit. The kit provides a bandage, so I wore my badge of courage for the rest of the day. You know it’s a big deal when your eleven year-old pats you on the back and commends you for your bravery–he’d been one of the most vocal about trying to get me to take the test over the last several months. I’m glad I eventually took the test. I’m glad I received my results. I’m glad I did it. 

I don’t know if I want to use a lancet again, though. They still kind of creep me out. 

Melissa Amster:

A couple months ago, I wrote about my older son learning how to drive. Last month, we went on a road trip from DC to Chicago and he did most of the driving. I was really impressed with how well he took to the highways and expressways, as I could have never done that at his age...

When I took Driver's Ed in high school, there was this really mean instructor who used to intimidate me every time it was my turn in the seat. I somehow got stuck being the only one in the car with him for learning how to drive on expressways. It was the most frustrating and upsetting experience and I came back to school in tears from it. After that time, I was terrified to get on any highway or expressway and took back roads whenever possible. (When I got my license, I was thrilled to flaunt it in front of him...)

When I was turning twenty-one, I wanted to go to The Neo-Futurarium in Chicago for my birthday, to see my favorite show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. A friend had driven me there a few weeks prior and I paid extra attention to the roads he was taking (we didn't have Google Maps at the time). He was supposed to take me again for my birthday, but something came up on his end and it didn't work out for him to go at the last minute. So I decided that if I really wanted to get there, I would drive myself. I went out of my way to go to the highway entrance that he showed me and managed to find my way to the theater and then back again. It was exhilarating driving on the expressway and it somehow felt totally natural. After that time, I was no longer scared to drive on expressways or highways and that served me well for driving to and from college that fall. If only I had been that motivated a few years earlier, my life would have been a lot easier. 

Back to the present, it was definitely scary giving up control of the car to my son for his first time driving on the highways and there was one or two times where I was gripping the side of the car. However, he did an amazing job and I'm glad he feels comfortable driving on highways and expressways now, instead of feeling like he has to wait a few years.

Tell us about a time that you faced your fears.

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