Back to the present. I’m in Dr. Penelope Penguin’s office feeling a wee bit defensive, and quite frankly resentful as I take a seat across from her. The worst of it is, I’m paying uber dollars for feeling this way. Bummer. But I don my best southern belle persona, the kind that bleeds exquisite manners, but ditch the mint julep, southern accent, and crinoline skirt.
She introduces herself well, though. Ah, but she should. She’s a therapist for criminy’s sake. Mercifully, we quickly move beyond the awkward, starry-eyed stage. (It also helps that I’m a very open, friendly type person. Talkative, that’s me. Talk, talk, talk).
Within five minutes, I think I’ve discovered two things. One, she’s highly educated and articulate. That’s good. And two, she’s soft-spoken, oozing layers of compassion. Doubly good. Plus, appearance-wise she kind of blends into the wall, which gives her a rather humble look. Although I guess she could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But I’m just not sensing that. And I’m usually pretty good at distinguishing psycho from normal. However, just in case, I keep my psycho detector radar up.
It occurs to me to wonder how I’m coming across to her. Probably she’s relieved that she doesn’t have to dangle a pair of pliers in front of my mouth to elicit answers to her probing questions. Well, but see, here’s the thing. Talk’s relative. So, the kind of talk I tend to indulge in, is the kind that advertises cheap, blue-light specials. But, on the other hand, I do wrap my cheap in gilded paper, and Dr. Penguin appears to be quite impressed with my ability to toss out words like a juggler riding a skateboard.
At any rate, the forty-five minute “hour” goes by very fast. In that time, I tell her the most important stuff about me. Like, how pissed off I am at Dr. L&D that I had a terrifying near-death experience. She nods her head sympathetically and says something like you’re probably experiencing some degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She briefly explains what that is, before jumping into the why’s and wherefore’s of breech births and the trauma that can arise from an unexpected cesarean section. In the process, I learn all I never wanted to know about labor and bad deliveries. It turns out that Dr. Penguin used to be a mid-wife. By the time she finishes talking, I feel like I could be a mid-wife too. If I wanted. Which I don’t. Ever. Ever. Ever.
Eventually she winds down and asks me if I have any questions. I want to say, Well, no. You said it best. Damned if I’m not ready to apply to medical school. But I chicken out and shake my head, instead, and she smiles warmly. “Ok, then, in our next appointment, we’ll explore PTSD more fully, and I’ll give you some tools to cope with it.” She stands, I stand. She smiles, I smile.
And I’m off. Into the wild blue yonder, feeling blissfully relieved that I’m not crazy, that I’m really normal, and had a perfectly normal reaction to trauma. Nearly dying two times in one’s life is really traumatic. In case you didn’t know. It won’t take long for Dr. Penguin to fix me.
“Says you, Lizzie.”