The Stuff of Life: Embracing the Fear of the Form Post Divorce
This is when you know you have really MOVED to a new city-- when you have to find a doctor. More specifically, when you have to find a dentist because you have a throbbing toothache and your life long dentist is 300 miles away. (Actually, finding a dentist in a new town was easier than finding a grocery store-- everybody knows a dentist.)
Married. Widowed. Single. Divorced. Check One.
Here is what struck me this week... I am actually not afraid of the form anymore. You know...the form. As in medical forms. New patient forms. Health history forms. Endless pages of more information than I care to share, mostly with the doctor, feeling like a school-girl wondering if I have the right answers.
But I think I have finally evolved...yay for me! For the first time in the many years since my divorce I can complete the forms efficiently and confidently. Damn, I might even pass this class.
These pages of medical forms used to paralyze me. It wasn't the weight or height. I am always 135 pounds and 5'6." Or at least that’s my go-to answer. It's been on my driver’s license for 30 years! It wasn’t even the the smoking or the alcohol sections that stumped me.
It was the very first line after my name. The part in big bold letters. For most people it is a simple question. But I sat numb. It's the question that reads “Please circle: MARRIED. WIDOWED. SINGLE. DIVORCED.”
I just couldn’t circle DIVORCED. That wasn’t me.
I seriously used to leave this blank. I couldn't circle the word DIVORCED. I just couldn't do it. This was not me. Truthfully, I felt more WIDOWED. And then I dreaded the fact of being SINGLE. I would sit with that pencil and clipboard and stare at those words -- terrified that I couldn't choose a description. Who was this person?
I reluctantly skipped that section…only to be hit with the next line: EMERGENCY CONTACT. I am clearly failing this quiz. Who the hell is my emergency contact? It was always my (ex) husband. Now who? And what’s the etiquette? Do I have to ask a friend for permission first? Oh my god, do I have no emergency contact? I would sometimes write in a random number of a friend, praying that if I got hit by a bus they would answer the phone and not be on vacation in Italy that day.
I would shamefully give my half-empty form to the nurse. I didn't know the answers. The questions seemed too difficult.
Making Peace with Myself and the Form.
But here is the evolving part of the dreaded form. Yesterday I opened my email from my new fancy Chicago dentist. And, whoa…those forms don't scare me! Sure, there’s no clipboard and I’m answering in the privacy of my home. But, eight years post-divorce, the answers are coming easier. The less evolved "me" would not have even opened the attachment.
Ah hah, I realize gleefully. I am DIVORCED and I am SINGLE. I think I will circle two! I have an EMERGENCY CONTACT!
In fact, I have several. Feeling like an over-achiever I wrote in all of the phone numbers (it took up two lines) for everyone in Chicago: my daughter, brother, sister-in-law and lifelong best friend. I am going to get an "A" on this paper for sure! (And If I get hit by a bus one of them will most definitely show up.)
I must admit -- I did leave the smoking and alcohol section blank. "Sometimes" wasn't one of the choices. It was just YES or NO. Neither applied. I left it blank. And, of course, I am still 135 pounds and 5'6".
I can't wait to give the nurse my papers.
I've got this….one form, one day, at a time.