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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Birth of a Business, Part 3: Fear and Doom

Yesterday, Tuesday, Heather from the Board of Health called and left a message. My massage practitioner application was in good order, except for the TB test. When would I send in the TB test? I panicked, a little, and called back: I didn't realize I needed a TB test. It turns out that it wasn't written on the application, but buried in the regulations.

I called my doctor's office and explained that I needed a TB test before Monday. They booked me in at 9:45 Wednesday, explaining that I'd need to return for test evaluation Friday. I thanked them for squeezing me in so fast. Then I called the office for which I might do contract work, making an appointment to visit them at noon Wednesday.

Last night I slept well for the first time in what seems like weeks, largely because I went upstairs before bed and explained to our Brazilian neighbors--a different set of Brazilians since the last time--that the stomping around at night was keeping me awake. Really, the way I said it in Portuguese was the rough equivalent of the following "English":

I speak only a little English. Every night, I can't sleep because you could be walking stomp stomp stomp. Please would you walk more--I don't know how to say. Less nose. Too much nose, I cannot sleep. Thank you.

Anyway, the neighbors were apologetic and I got to sleep through the night, so I guess the point got across. I was somewhat surprised that I slept so well, because I was having awake-visions of my future TB test producing a huge welt, a festering red lump of you-have-TB-ness, and all the time, all the money spent on training in shiatsu and starting a business being popped like a fragile bubble because of the disease once called consumption.

So this morning I hauled off to the doctor's office, where the nurse stuck a watery solution of dead virus beneath my forearm and told me not to scratch it, and to stop in anytime on Friday. Turns out there's no copay for a TB test. How nice that it was free.

Then I went home, ate a dosa, and showered before embarking upon my job interview of sorts. The Greek therapist who runs the office was very nice, a gentlewoman in the sense that is rare now. She was older than I'd expected. She asked where I grew up, and then we decided that the best thing was for me to give her a shiatsu treatment so she could learn firsthand. She was enthusiastic and offered me a contract, at which point my old friend Anxiety began sneaking up with his evil cousin, Panic Attack. (My CBT therapist had warned me, when I left his office from our final session, that my then-cured panic attacks might return at major life turning points: death, marriage, new career. Two out of three ain't bad.)

We agreed that I would read the contract over, decide if it was agreeable to me, and then sign it when I was ready. The Panic was kind enough not to choke me until I returned home. Breathing only made it worse, as it highlighted the constriction of my throat, so I called G., seeking a little reason. "THEY OFFERED ME A CONTRACT!" I exclaimed. "That's great!" he replied, mistaking terror for enthusiasm. "NO--I'M PANICKING!!!" I explained, frantically. "Well, have you read the contract yet?" "I CAN'T LOOK AT IT!" "OK, we'll read it together when I get home." This idea calmed me a little. We made small talk about Home Depot and thermostats for a minute, and then hung up.

I calmed myself a bit more by emailing work to say I'd take the whole day off rather than just the morning, as planned; reading an absorbing book for a few minutes; and then practicing tai chi outside. Once I could breathe normally, I went to the bank I'd carefully selected online, to open my business account.

The manager was very nice and, lucky for me, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, so I made out with both a business checking account and an application to join the Chamber. When the time came to give him money for the account, I realized my checkbook was at home, sitting on the desk. I ran home to get it--fortunately, I live less than half a mile from this bank--and felt weak and panicky again. What was I doing, opening a business checking account? I muffled the panic with a slice of whole wheat bread smothered in peanut butter & honey. (Complex carbohydrates are wonderful for panic, blanketing the gut just where the jitters arise. I do not recommend trying this with simple sugars, such as chocolate, which will only make matters worse and add fatigue to the problem.) On my way back to the credit union, one guy at the gas station on the corner recognized my car and gave a hearty wave. This simple gesture heartened me, and, at the bank, I wrote my account-opening check triumphantly. Then, feeling victorious, I went to Dunkin Donuts and bought a gift card for all my friends at the gas station.

PS So far, no welt.


Blogger Emma Goldman said...

Damn, woman! You're starting a business AND fending off panic attacks! It's hard to say which one is more work . . . I just hope you remember that you're moving your business to my city one of these days!

7:34 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Oh no, you're moving your business here. I couldn't handle the Chicago winters, and we are seriously in need of good bakeries that do things other than artisan breads. That's all they do out here. Not anything creme-stuffed in sight.

Re panic attacks: Better to float over them than to fend them off. Fending them off just makes it worse.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I'm completely awed by what you're doing, kStyle. I hope it is not patronizing to say that I'm very proud of you.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Likewise. You're a credit to everyone who pursues her dream.

And it sucks about the panic attacks. It's so inconvenient, not to mention horrible in general.

12:27 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Oh stop it, all of you. I'm blushing.

3:16 PM  

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