Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Speechless in Student Health Services

For the past few years, I have gradually developed some kind of psychological reaction to the Student Health Services. For the first few years, I have developed some kind of situation-specific anxiety attacks when I am in the Student Health Services.

Because of two minor physical concerns, I went to see a doctor in the Student Health Services today: my wrist has been hurting—repeated motion injury—and there is something wrong with my foot.

When I walked in the door, I felt fine and was able to greet the receptionist. While I was sitting in the waiting area, reading some magazine about health and soul, I started feeling a sense of light headedness, feeling that I was about to pass out, and had trouble breathing.

Being a seasoned veteran of anxiety attacks, I decided calm down by closing my eyes and imaging myself to be on the beach of the Hawaii islands. This sort of worked because, by the time the doctor called my name, the light headedness had gone away.

At the beginning of our meeting, I told the doctor that I have developed some kind of speech impairment specific for the Student Health Services. When it occurs, I would let him know and would need to communicate with him using pen and pencil.

I then showed him the problem areas and he examined them.

For a while, I was able to eloquently respond to his questions and describe to him how my wrist problem came about. Then, at some point, as he was talking to me about the repeated motion injury on my wrist, I started having the feeling that some thing had started to sneak up and lay weight on my chest.

I tried to say something, only to realize that I was starting to lose my speech ability. I was still able to talk but just at a really slow rate. Gradually, I started to lose the ability to speak in sentence. Rather, I had to pronounce words one at a time. Eventually, my voice was all gone. In other words, my mouth would be open like I am saying something but nothing would come out from my mouth, except for laughs. It was from that time on that I started communicating with the doctor in writing, rather than via speech.

On my way out of the door, I saw the receptionist again and another lady who was also on duty last Saturday when I came in to seek some suggestion from the nurse and made the appointment today. They both saw me loosing my voice last Saturday and both realized that I had lost my voice again today.

I started laughing at myself and they laughed, too.

My voice gradually came back minutes after I walked out of the Student Health Services. The first thing I heard myself said was…”Oh, my God!”

Actually, the loss of vocal ability occurred a few times when I was meeting with my therapist and psychiatrist; however, the attacks have been taking place each every time I put my foot into the door of the Student Health Services. The first time it happened, the Health Services actually called in a therapist for emergency intervention. Of course, none of us (this therapist, my therapist, my psychiatrist, me, the physicians) could provide a valid diagnosis based on the DSM IV. What about the intervention? Paper and pencil will do as long as the health professionals allow me to write. lol

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