Am I the only person that constantly has this thought. I can’t do anything without thinking what if? And it’s the what if thought in retrospect that I’m referring to i.e. something happens, and after the event, all I can think about is what if this or that had happened?!
So it’s happened with two very stressful situations that I’ve encountered in my life lately and that’s what’s got me thinking…is it really healthy to harp on these type of thoughts!
About 2months ago, I attended a work course at a hotel in Sandton. It was a course held over two days – on Thursday and Friday. In typical Sandton fashion, I sat in some serious traffic on my way in on the Thursday and so on the Friday, I left home at the same time not expecting there to be hardly any traffic. Murphy’s Law (bloody Murphy can seriously drive me insane!), I arrived at the venue about half an hour before the course was due to start. I decided to sit in the car and surf the net on my cellphone as I had nothing better to do at that time of the morning. As the parking lot was empty, I had reversed parked and so I could clearly see the entrance driveway to the hotel (I was parked in the first parking next to the driveway) as well as the driveway leading from the entrance up to the main door of the hotel. Angels were clearly watching over me as I turned off my radio as soon as I had parked, jumped out of the car, fetched my bag with my cellphone in it and proceeded to sit with both front windows rolled down busying myself on my cellphone. About 5minutes after I sat back down in the driver’s seat, I looked up and saw one of the hotel security guards running about 2metres in front of my car toward a storage door directly opposite the entrance gate. I was just thinking how strange it was and wondering what he was doing when I saw a man with a balaclava over his face and a handgun in his hand running after him. I cannot explain the fear that ran through me then. Fear that I’ve never felt before in my life. I sat paralyzed in the car barely able to breathe as I thought about my various options of what to do. The first thing that went through my mind was that I was going to die! So for what felt like hours – but was probably all of 2minutes – I had thought of three different options to get out of the car and into what I thought was safety. Just as I was about to make a run to the main door of the hotel, I looked to my right and saw two mean running with very large guns past my car and to the entrance gate. At the entrance gate, there was a Mercedes A-class (yes, a MERCEDES, not a little jalopie!) waiting – the getaway car. I felt like I was in a movie as I watched the three gunmen run toward the car, struggle to get in (the driver had forgotten to unlock the door) and then drive away leaving the parking as if nothing had happened. They didn’t once look my way, clearly focused on their task at hand. I jumped out of the car and sprinted toward the hotel doorway only to find a lady practically laying on the floor in tears. I stood behind a wall at the entrance and burst out crying. You know that crying that happens where you can’t even catch your breathe?!?! She ran towards me and the two of us just stood there crying together obviously in shock, as the staff at the hotel slowly started to come out to investigate what all our commotion was about. I later found out that the other lady crying was the gunmen’s target. They robbed her – at gunpoint – stealing her wedding ring (which she estimated was valued at around R200,000), her watch and her cellphone. From talking to her and the hotel manager after the incident occurred, it seemed as if she was a target and as selfish as it sounds, I actually thanked God that they had specifically come there for her because that’s clearly why they weren’t interested in anything else and more specifically, not interested in me! I mean, they ran two metres in front of my car and didn’t so much as glance my way. I left the venue pretty much immediately and went to see a counselor at work. As I sat there talking to her, I realized that the reason why I was so shaken up was not really because of what I had seen (okay, maybe it had a lot to do with it because really, what happened felt like a movie…three guns plus a balaclava kitted out gunman is enough to seriously scare a person!!) but mainly because all I thought about thereafter was what if? What if I had decided to jump and run or drive further into the parking after I’d seen the first gun wielding man? What if one of the guys had looked in my direction and seen me? What if I had jumped out my car to get my handbag 5minutes later? Nobody had touched me or come close to me – in fact, other than being a big frightened, I was really not affected at all by the situation but the what if’s just about drove me insane!
This past Saturday, I was in a similar mindset although very fortunately, not in the same situation. When I arrived home from work on Friday, Ethan felt like he had a bit of a temperature – not a fever as such, but just warmer than usual. I took his temperature and it did read a bit higher than normal but he’s been sick on and off for the last three months since starting crèche, so I assumed that the temperature was the start of him coming down with something or other. Later on in the evening, his nose started to run and his temperature returned to normal after a dose of Calpol but he was complaining that his head was sore. I immediately assumed that it was a sinus-ey headache as his running nose was getting steadily worse. I told the hubster when he got home that we should just monitor it and that I wasn’t particularly worried but that I did think it strange for a child his age to be complaining about a sore head. Saturday morning came and our little dude had full blown flu! Once again, he complained about a sore head but I brushed it off making a mental note to keep an eye on it but not panicking too much. After picking up dinner that evening, we arrived home only for Ethan to complain again (almost in tears at this point) of his head paining. And it got worse from there. I sent my mum a message and she agreed that it was strange but just to monitor it. Then he started clutching at his chest in pain, crying and my stress levels hit the roof when he started projectile vomiting EVERYWHERE!! Now, Ethan’s not a “vomiter”. In fact, I can count the times he’s vomited in his three years of being alive on one hand just about. So the vomiting would not have particularly worried me, but coupled with the headache, I was beside myself. So we rushed him to the emergency room at the hospital at my mother’s strong suggestion – thank God for a mother who can give advice when needed…the hubster was literally running up and down the passage in the house absolutely clueless as to what to do – I don’t blame him though. I think it was probably the most stressful situation we’ve been in with Ethan! So after going through triage, Ethan seeing a nurse and a doctor and being examined thoroughly (1.5hours later!), we left with the all clear. The doctor checked for meningitis and there were no symptoms indicating that it could be that. Since the two vomits at home, he hadn’t vomited again and he was able to keep water down after they’d given him a suppository so the doctor was happy to let him go telling us to keep a close eye on him. While driving to the hospital, I remember bursting into tears and the hubster asking me what was wrong! REALLY, I couldn’t believe it. But I’ve realized that guys and girls are just not wired the same and that situation showed me just that. While he was driving as carefully as he could but as fast as possible and discussing which route we should take to get there…all I could think about was what if it’s serious?, what if we waited too long to take him in? what if he needs to be hospitalized? what if something happens to this child???? I couldn’t think of anything else.
I remember my mum telling me over the phone (after the gunmen incident) that the last thing I should think is “what if” because it’ll drive me absolutely mad. I was safe and sound, nothing had happened and replaying the scene in my mind and thinking about what could have happened would just make me feel worse than I did but I just couldn’t help it.
Am I the only one that thinks like this – is it normal???