I just came back from a business meeting in another state. A small group of us went. We stayed at different hotels, and we agreed to meet up half an hour before the meeting to make sure no one was late. The meeting was in a city with good mass transit, so my boss encouraged us to take the subway to get to our meeting. It would be “less complicated” and cheaper.
I had a terrible, no good, very ADHD time getting there. First, I got lost on the way to the train. Big surprise!? Then, the train readers weren’t taking credit cards because of a malfunction, and I never carry cash. Using cash means I can’t track my spending on my statement, which is a recipe for frivolous ADHD spending. The only ATM around was one that needed a branded debit card to enter before business hours. Guess who isn’t a Bank of America customer, and thus couldn’t use her own debit card to unlock the doors of the 24-hour ATM? I was on the verge of panic when a passerby finally took pity on me and unlocked the door with her card.
After being reduced to begging strangers to get out their debit cards (and after I’d already decided I was okay using Uber and not getting reimbursed, only to have no drivers accept my fare), I finally got on the express train for my thirty-minute trip uptown.
I felt a familiar rumble in my guts. I typically follow a low-FODMAP diet, and I minimize or eliminate foods I’m sensitive to or allergic to in general. I follow a rotation diet for my allergies at home, but on business trips I don’t touch even a single bite of anything risky. It makes for a very restricted diet, but it usually keeps me gastrointestinally safe through high-stakes meetings. I kept to my diet religiously during the trip, but, before the trip, my diet had been worse than usual. In preparation for an upcoming GI test, I have been eating more of one of the things that do a number on me (wheat). I’ve had a celiac blood test in the past, and it was negative. However, since many of my symptoms match celiac, I don’t eat enough wheat with my moderate allergy to have another blood test be valid, and I’m having a related procedure anyway, my GI recommended a gluten challenge. I’ve been putting my GI system through intentional torture, and I guess my system was biding its time for revenge. I’m sure the anxiety involved in obtaining my train ticket also didn’t help.
By the end of the trip, I felt some serious urgency happening. I practically ran off the train, and I luckily found a Starbucks bathroom almost immediately. Even after all of those mishaps, I had left myself enough time to handle them, breath and freshen up. I even had enough time to buy a coffee and calm down enough to hide how rough my trip had been. (A big thank you, by the way, to any Starbucks employees who read this post. I love Starbucks baristas. They never give me grief when I use the restroom before making a purchase. They don’t know that I am incapable of walking into a coffee house without buying a coffee. They are always taking a leap of faith when they offer me their restroom code before I am an officially paying customer, and I am deeply grateful.)
I was still half an hour early even for the early meetup time. I’ve learned the hard way that I will either be painfully early for everything, or twenty+ minutes late for everything. I look at the time Google thinks it will take to get me to an unfamiliar place, then I add an hour (more if it’s an important meeting). The story of my life – ADHD, IBS and old-fashioned comedically bad luck – has taught me that success at work means assuming something stupid will happen. I plan accordingly.
I arrived at our designated meeting spot at 8:10. We were supposed to meet at 8:30 to finish prepping for the 9am meeting. When I arrived, my boss was already there, but I was the first of my colleagues. I got brownie points for being dedicated (har har!) Thank God, because I think I need them.
I know why I left so much time to get to the meeting, but sometimes I wonder about my boss. Realistically, my boss was probably judging us by whether we’d be merely on time. Realistically, I’m incredibly glad I wasn’t the last to arrive. I’m sure it was a test. Yet…
You know how you are supposed to calm public-speaking nerves by picturing your audience in their underpants? For the duration of that meeting, I decided not to think about my boss judging people by their arrival time or the stakes of the client meeting. I decided not to think about my recent struggles at work. Instead of panicking about what could have happened, I decided in my personal mental narrative that my boss had arrived early for the same reasons I did. I think it helped. It’s easier to use my coping strategies and to keep a lid on my RSD when I’m picturing my boss frantically racing to the toilet.
Oh, and the meeting, after all that, went fine. Whew. Now let’s see how my system handles a week’s worth of low-fiber diet, followed by fasting, followed by a barium flush. My colonoscopy prep starts next week. I’ll update my readers if/when it sheds any further light on my IBS + fibro-or-whatever-it-is symptoms. I honestly don’t know what to expect on that front. If my doctor did find evidence of inflammation, would he tell me right away? Or would I have to wait for a follow-up visit?