Have you ever been afraid to do something that you know is probably easy to do, and that you know is really, really stupid to be nervous about? Does everyone have these silly little fears, or is it just me? I have worked with poor little nursing students (a generally abused and terrified group) who were actually trembling as they were about to hang an antibiotic under my watchful eye. “Let’s stop a minute here and think,” I would say. “You’re nervous about hanging this antibiotic, and I know these things are scary the first time. But what really could go wrong? We know we have the right patient, the right medication, and we know that she is not allergic to it. What could be a problem, other than spilling the whole thing on the floor? If that happened we would just order another bag.” They would realize that all would be okay, and would proceed fearlessly until the next task, when terror would overtake them again. They were operating within reason, however. One reads so much about what goes wrong with medication delivery in hospitals, and the students have fear drilled into them in nursing school, with teachers constantly telling them how easy it would be to harm a patient.
So I am not talking about reasonable fears, or even things like acrophobia, which seems to me to be an innate inherited flaw. I can blame my mother for that one. She and I share a sickening terror of heights. No, I mean really dumb things – like putting new ink in your printer. For years, Rebecca was in charge of all things technological, and she took care of this job, while I was lost in admiration for her mechanical skills. After she moved, she still would do it for me, but finally decided that I needed to be more independent and do it myself. So what was the problem? How can I say? I just really, really, really didn’t want to do it. Rachael said she would do it, but then we had to rush off somewhere and she didn’t get it done. Ana said she would do it, but we forgot. Rebecca refused absolutely. She said, “Just look at the instruction booklet. That’s what I did.” The implication was there - “What’s the big deal, you dodo?” However I had visions of secretaries at my job making some little slip while trying to replace the toner on the copy machine, and ink dust everywhere. Stat calls to housekeeping, engineering, and earnest discussion as to whether to call an emergency chemical spill. And this more than once!
Well, it looked like no one was going to do it for me, so several weeks ago, I got out the ink and the instruction booklet, stared at them, but was paralyzed by inward doubts (and pictures of ink dust everywhere.) I just could not bring myself to do it. I got everything out several more times, but sine success. Finally, today, I thought that I had accomplished absolutely nothing in the last few days, and had better do something. So once again, very determined, I got it all out again. I convinced myself that printer ink and copier ink were very different. I read and reread the directions, and thought about the worst thing that could happen. Not much really, except ruining the ink and having to buy new. So….. Voila! Triumph! And it was so easy! What a silly I can be. But I am happy now that I can print again.