My father-in-law had a cardiac cath today, so Mister Man drove himself and me (as the resident expert and chief hand holder) to Rollingindough General Hospital where they were doing the cath. Mister Man’s mother then promptly developed a weird epigastric pain which was probably anxiety induced, or maybe the result of too much spicy sausage the night before; but, being highly suspicious of weird epigatric pains, especially in women, I shuffled her off to Emerg.
All is well. Mister Man’s father’s left ventricle is all shot to hell, but it isn’t anything we didn’t know before; the mother-in-law is fine too.
The thing is, I spent the day shuttling between Emerg and the cath lab, and every time I stepped into the Emerg, and heard the familiar sounds and saw virtually the same equipment — I mean, emergency departments look pretty much the same anywhere — a huge wave of anxiety crashed in. I think I was having a bit of a panic attack.
This was really, really bizarre, because I don’t even work there. It was like I was having anxiety by proxy. Is there such a thing? Vicarious anxiety?
And do I actually have this much stress when I go on shift, but don’t notice it because it’s familiar?