Sheila Quairney: “Just Relax”

“Just relax” murmurs the doctor soothingly as she attempts to probe tender bits of my anatomy with something alien, cold and rather unpleasant. Relax? Seriously? I think to myself, trying and failing to unclench my jaw, and other bodily parts.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we, rigid with fear and tension, willing ourselves into a sense of detachment and pretending that this invasive procedure is happening to someone else and not to us.

Whether it’s swabs up noses or needles in jaws, it’s not exactly pleasant, is it?

We try desperately and without much success to imagine we’re on a desert island, or floating down a river, or up on a cloud, when the reality is that we’re imprisoned on a chair, or a couch, at the mercy of a determined medical practitioner. The hitherto unobserved ceiling becomes an object of great interest to us, as we watch with impotent and horrified fascination an abseiling spider drawing ever closer. At least it takes our mind off whatever procedure is happening to us. Maybe there’ll be a fire alarm, or a very minor earth tremor will hit Bay Street, and we will be reprieved, from both the spider and the treatment. We can but hope.

Whatever part of the body it is, subjecting ourselves to possible pain or discomfort at the hands of dedicated and very capable doctors, nurses and dentists brings out the latent coward in most of us.

Our inner five year old wants to wail “Mummy, don’t let that nasty woman hurt me!” while we grit our teeth (dental equipment permitting), try to breathe out slowly and put into practice all those relaxation techniques that seem so effortless in Yoga classes.

We know it’s for our own good (we may even be voluntarily paying for it), we know it will soon be over, but we don’t like it. We’re embarrassed at being so pathetic and tell ourselves sternly that this is NOTHING compared with what people who are really ill are going through, that we should be ASHAMED of ourselves for making such a fuss and it’s for our OWN GOOD.

But it doesn’t make it any easier….

Time to ‘fess up – I was for many years one of those Yoga teachers who played soothing music and talked in a low monotone to lull my classes into a semi-dormant state of relaxation. It’s easy, isn’t it, when you’re lying on your mat in that dark room with nothing to disturb your peace of mind. I’d mentally transport my class to warm sandy beaches, or cool mountain forests, or favourite places and we’d all think beautiful thoughts. But put me on that doctor’s couch or dentist’s chair, and all my years of practice and training go out the window as I frantically wriggle my toes (as advised by a long-ago dentist) and try – and fail – to let go.

I’m a real wimp when it comes to medical stuff. I’m the sort who faints giving blood, and never ever wanted to play Doctors and Nurses. I close my eyes during the gory bits in movies and would have to be dragged kicking and screaming to watch a hospital reality show.

How to Enrol

On-line: after bookings have opened

On-line enrolments are preferred as this significantly reduces the amount of back-office work for our volunteers.

  • Login to the website.
  • Go to the Courses & Enrolling page.
  • Scroll down to find the course that you are interested in.
  • Does the course have spaces available?
    • Click on the course name to go to the booking page.
    • Click on “Book for this course or event”.
    • You will receive a confirmation email.  Please check your Junk/Spam folders as these automatically-generated emails often finish up there.
  • OR is the course shown as FULL?
    • Click on WAITLIST.

Paper Enrolment Form: before bookings open for First Semester

  • Obtain a paper Enrolment Form either from the Office or by printing an online copy available here.
  • Complete the paper Enrolment Form and submit it to the Office.

The start date for acceptance of paper Enrolment Forms for first semester is published on the U3APP website and in the e-Bulletin. Enrolment Forms received before this date are treated as though they had been received on the start date (ie there is no advantage to be gained by submitting early). On the start date and thereafter, paper Enrolment Forms are numbered in order of receipt.  Paper Enrolment forms are processed by U3APP volunteers on the same day as on-line bookings.

If your enrolment is successful, you will receive a confirmation email.  Please check your Junk/Spam folders as these automatically-generated emails often finish up there.

If your enrolment is unsuccessful,  you will receive an email telling you that you have been waitlisted.

Via the Office: after bookings have opened

  • Contact the office in person, or by email or phone.