Dermatology officeI’d been dreading the appointment.

At least I knew what to expect. Thanks to my fair skin and the countless hours I spent back in the 1970’s and early 80’s, marinating myself in baby oil and air-frying myself on an aluminum foil blanket, my dermatologist and I are buddies. She’s removed so many skin cancers from me that Todd and I joke that her lake house must have a Becky Ramsey suite.

“It’s no biggie,” I told myself as I drove to her office. The procedure was nothing, really. It’d take a few minutes and then it’d be over. The End. No worries.

But my brain is really, really good at imagining things. So good that I’ve ended up on the floor in all sorts of medical facilities, my head between my knees. Ask my grown kids. Each time one of them had to get their wisdom teeth removed, I’d warn the nurse at pre-op, “I’m squeamish, so just give me the information on paper. I’ll read it at home. Don’t actually say the words.” But they’d always say the words. I’d slide down their wall while they’d scurry around, searching for a wet cloth. One day I’ll write a book called SQUEAMISH. I’ve got plenty of stories to share.

Thankfully, I’ve learned how to keep myself safe. I tell the nurse I’m squeamish — and I don’t count on her believing me. “I need to lie down during the procedure,” I say before we even get started. “I need a cold pack and a fan pointed at me, if you have one.” That’s when she says I’ll be just fine, that it’s all in my head. “Oh I know,” I say. “I know it’s all in my head. My head’s super great at making me faint. I wish it wasn’t but it is, so if you’ll just hand me the cold pack…”

I was ready to say that last week. A new nurse walked me to the room. “I need to lie down during the procedure,” I said.

“Sounds good,” she said. “Would you like a cold pack? How about I get it for you now, before you even get numbed up?”

I nearly jumped off the table and hugged her.

“I’m going to get you some ice water to have on hand,” she said. “You just let me know when you need it.”

By the time my doctor came in, I was fully reclined on the paper, my pants leg pulled up, my sock off, a fan aimed at my face and a cold back behind my neck.

“WHOA!” she laughed. “Are we taking off your leg or something?! A cold pack AND a fan?!”

I felt a little shame rising. I felt a little ridiculous. NO, I told myself. So what if I’ve got a feisty vasovagal response? It’s good to be a sensitive person. A person who notices things and thinks about them. I’d skip the squeamishness if I could, but I can’t. Maybe it’s a superpower somehow or maybe it’s not. But it’s who I am. I deal with it.

My doctor laughed again. “You’ve even got a glass of water?”

“It helps,” I said. “Remember? I’m squeamish.”

“I’d say,” she said.

I looked at the nurse. She smiled at me. “Would you like some water?”

It was icy cold. So nice.

I came home with 5 stitches, a set of wound instructions which I didn’t read until I was lying down, and a love and appreciation for my smart new nurse and all the folks who notice and care–not just for my leg, but the whole person attached to it.