Going to the doctor’s not fun–not for us and not for our pets. When our almost 16-year-old rescue dog (who’s been with M. since two months of age) began to have serious mobility problems, we took him to a veterinary specialist in orthopedics and neurology. We talked about pain relief, and I asked “What about acupuncture?” To my surprise, the vet said that some 60% of dogs with Little He’s problems found some relief from acupuncture, and he referred us to a holistic vet a few miles away.
Little He’s a nervous dog–“anxiety” is his middle name— and we expected the normal shedding and shaking in the holistic vet clinic. But also to our surprise, he remained cool and calm–happy, even, from the moment we entered.
“It’s our claim to fame,” the vet-acupuncturist told me, with a smile. “We keep our vibe calm and unhurried, and very different from a regular veterinary office.” That’s for sure! She brought out a bed for Little He and as you can see, he was perfectly relaxed. And so were we.
For an old dog to have some 20 needles inserted, well, it’s got to be a big deal. But he tolerated them well and then laid down to rest while they did their magic. When his 20 minutes were up, he was almost disappointed to have to get up. The rest of the day he was remarkably calm. Pain-free, too.
When I contrasted his response to every other time he’s been to a vet clinic, I realized that the vibe does matter. Even for dogs. He’ll be going once a week for the foreseeable future, and we can tell already it’s an outing he’ll look forward to, not fear. Which means the treatment is more likely to be effective. The vibe helps.
I don’t like getting my annual mammogram. No, it’s not because it hurts (it never has) or that I’m modest (never in a medical setting) or that it’s invasive. It’s because I’m afraid. Anxious.
Too many of my friends have been diagnosed with breast cancer and back in the early 1990s, I had a benign lumpectomy. At the time, I wasn’t even particularly concerned about it, perhaps the ignorance of youth, or maybe I sensed it was benign. But these days, looming test results are a lot more scary.
For 20 years I went to a breast imaging center that was woman-centric. Breast imaging was all it did. The vibe was calm and peaceful. The techs were good. It was affiliated with the hospital in which I had my lumpectomy, so I was reassured that they had 20 years of films for comparison. But it was almost 20 miles away from where I now live.
More than a year ago, the hospital bought a smaller hospital just a few miles from me and affiliated their imaging capabilities with the center I’d been going to. The same comparisons could be done and it was much closer to my home. I thought it would be a comparable experience.
I was wrong.
At 8:30 on the morning of my 10am appointment I got a call that my appointment was pushed forward to 11am because there was an overlap in a procedure. I wondered what that was all about, since it had never happened at the original center. I mean, how hard is it to book appointments that don’t overlap? And what did “procedure” mean?
I believe you can tell a lot about an operation by the way it’s run and this was not reassuring. When I got to the hospital, they directed me to Radiology. The waiting room was old, dated, rather shabby. Patients were being wheeled in and out. I realized that this was actually a full-on Radiology Dept, not the breast imaging center I’d been expecting. Lots going on. My anxiety mounted. I am an admitted health neurotic at this age and I didn’t get a good vibe from this. At 11:05am I got up and went to the man at the desk.
“Can you rebook me at the other center?” I asked. “I was expecting a breast imaging center and I’m a little uncomfortable here.” It wasn’t a problem. My mammogram was rescheduled for the following week.
Call me crazy, call me neurotic, call me anxious–but also call me someone who responds to a vibe. I wanted to feel confident in my test. I didn’t want to go into my mammogram questioning and more anxious that I already was. If in fact I got difficult news, I didn’t want it to be here, in this place. My intuitive side spoke and I listened. Yes, the vibe matters. I think author Lissa Rankin, M.D. (who wrote Mind over Medicine, a terrific book) would agree.
I belong to a neighborhood e-list, where I have seen the best of human behavior–and the worst. It’s been a big shock to see how mean people can be to each other and how others pile on without giving the benefit of the doubt–or even much independent thought. Sometimes, they default to the most negative interpretation of an action and the list spins out with everyone judging and weighing in. It’s Lord of the Flies behavior and it’s been a disappointment.
Oh, you’re wondering how I got past midlife without noticing that people behave in disappointing ways. Well, call me a cock-eyed optimist. The real truth is that instead of growing a thicker skin as I aged, it’s gotten thinner. More things about life sadden me than did in my youth. As one of my favorite inspirational writers recently wrote in her newsletter …”some of the certainties I held when I was younger have crumbled in the face of life’s unpredictability.” Thank you, Oriah Mountain Dreamer for putting what I feel into words.
The vibe of the e-list community has gotten off track this year and I’m sorry to see it. Because the vibe matters–especially in a community. I’ve seen this happen in online communities as well, with people weighing in on things they know little about, at least not first-hand, and with factions developing pro and con. Why? It takes so little to be nice to everyone. It breaks my heart to see such mean-spirited behavior.
Recently, a Facebook friend posted some very horrible things in response to comments from one of my other friends. It was vile commentary and I immediately deleted it. The friend who was attacked told me that the Buddha advised to “avoid negative people” and I think that’s good advice. Avoid negatives of all kinds, really.
Paying attention to the vibe is just good sense. It’s pretty clear, too, when someone’s being vile or a mean girl or boy. Very clear. And when that happens, my friend’s comment rings in my ear.
As the Buddha would say if he were here: The vibe matters.