Janet Sheridan: Test anxiety creates unnecessary stress
August 20, 2015
All through my schooling, I tested well. When other students complained of sleepless nights, sweaty palms and nervous stomachs during finals week, I remained smugly silent. But lately, I, too, suffer from test anxiety because now a test means having my vein stuck with a turkey baster, my bottom exposed to strangers, or my bosom squeezed to a crepe.
I especially dislike going to see a specialist for a more obscure test.
My stress begins when I receive multiple forms with 200 questions to answer before my appointment. It escalates as I spend an afternoon recording the cause of death for each of my ancestors and whether I'm depressed or have bladder-control issues. Then it soars when the in-take nurse asks me the same 200 questions and ignores the forms I completed in advance as ordered.
The first test is a weigh-in, which I take fully clothed in winter garb, including boots, with no time to discard my everything-I-might-need purse. I'm then told I've gained weight. A height measurement follows. The nurse notes my height, looks at my chart, and announces that I'm shrinking. Finally, she takes my blood pressure, shakes her head in concern, and asks if I'm stressed.
Listen, Honey, during the last five minutes, I failed three tests and learned I'm short and fat with high blood pressure. In addition, the doctor will soon ignore my forms and the nurse's notes and repeat all 200 of the same damn questions I've already answered twice. Then he'll order another test. Of course I'm stressed.
Sometimes, preparing for a test makes the test itself seem like a birthday party.
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Worse, after each test, the true agony begins: waiting. Comparing the discomfort of being tested to the anguish of waiting for the results is like comparing a poke from a mosquito to a rattlesnake bite. Every second I wait, I know I have colon cancer or breast cancer or skin cancer or glaucoma or so many bad teeth I need dentures.
Not to mention stress and high blood pressure.
Sheridan's book, "A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns," is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at http://www.auntbeulah.com on Tuesdays.