I’m not proud to say this, but, sometimes, when I think about having panic disorder, I feel a bit sorry for myself. Why can’t I have something less disruptive and more easily cured, like say, excessive ear wax or a hammertoe? Well, I was having one of these self-pitying moments on Friday when I read Susan’s blog, and, suddenly, I found myself grateful for my anxiety attacks. Panic sucks—it really does—all that palpitating and hyperventilating is absolutely exhausting. But it does, at some point, end. OCD, however, is rough. I cannot imagine the energy it takes to constantly either indulge or defy the compulsions. It must make enjoying oneself in a public place virtually impossible.
As I write this, I am lounging by the hotel pool on the first of my five-day vacation. It’s quite a lovely facility—one of those huge infinity pools with fountains spraying all around it. Some guy is coming around handing out ice cold water with fresh strawberries floating in it and warm towels. I am intermittently reading a wonderful book and working on a challenging word puzzle. It’s as close to paradise as it gets.
Except for that child whose voice keeps piercing my reverie: “Help! Mom, Dad look. Help! Look at me! Help!” Clearly he has not read The Boy Who Cried Wolf. I glare at him, hoping to convey my contempt, and that’s when I see it: the mother of all boogers he is extracting from his nostril. He holds it up triumphantly, and I find myself silently praying eat it please eat it. No such luck. He is flicking it into the water. The very same water in which my husband is beckoning me to join him. I am going to have to wade through the snot to get to him.
I decide that, if I enter the pool from the other side, I can reach my husband without contracting whatever childhood viruses the Screamer is harboring. So I do this frenetic jig (the deck is really hot) around the perimeter of the pool and swim to my husband from behind him.
He turns to me, surprised. “Why didn’t you just get in at the stairs [in front of our chairs]?”
“Oh,” I replied. “I just wanted to sneak up on you. I was being stealthy.”
“Then you should have reconsidered the hot coal dance. Everyone was staring at you.”
He wraps his arms around me and carries me through the water. At first I am loving this—I cannot remember the last time we were alone in a pool. But then I find myself scanning the surface for The Booger. Could it have made it all the way to the other side of the pool? Is there a current in here?
“Did you hear me?” my husband asks.
“No,” I said truthfully. “I was distracted.”
“By the baby?”
“What baby?” My eyes dart around searching for a chubby-cheeked cutie to block out images of a giant blob of snot devouring me in one gulp.
“Over there,” my husband says. “Playing on the steps.”
I spot the baby—more of a toddler—sporting a diaper sagging so far down his thigh it had to be loaded. I lift my head up higher onto my husband’s shoulder and try to make my hair stay on top of my head. I clench my Kegel muscles against the onslaught of E. Coli that must surely be headed my way and try to figure out the safest way to escape this cesspool.
“Can we get out?” I plead.
“So soon? It’s so nice.”
“I know, but I’m burning. I should get out of the sun.” (and out of this Petri dish)
I close my eyes and splash toward the stairs across from Poopy Pants. As soon as I’m out of the pool, I run upstairs to shower and shampoo twice. After I’ve washed my suit in Woolite and hung it to dry on the balcony, I am suddenly so tired. All this energy spent on my pool adventure has left me too depleted to panic about my thirteen-year-old son’s first experience piloting a Cessna (did I mention I used to be phobic about flying?). I need a nap. But first, I must check the mattress for bed bugs….