The Great Panic Attack of 2012

Date: Monday, August 6, 2012;  Location:  My backyard, on my porch, inside my house;  Witnesses: 3, including my husband’s best friend;  Humiliation factor=high

My mother is having surgery today.  Naturally, I’m nervous.  But apparently some parts of me are terrified, and yesterday these parts got overwhelmed and I lost control of them and of my whole system.  It started out simply enough. Just your typical rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.  I tried deep breathing exercises, closing my eyes and trying to focus on the air entering my lungs.  That didn’t work.  I got worse.

My hands started trembling and I suddenly had a pounding headache.  The voices spoke to me in rhythm with the pounding of my head.  They were all talking over one another, as usual, but today they all seemed especially urgent.  Some told me I couldn’t handle all this pressure. Some told me I was too mental to deal with the seriousness of the situation. Some told me Mom wasn’t going to make it.  Those were the worst voices of them all.

I was in the living room when all of this began, and I thought to myself that perhaps a bit of distraction would help me.  So I went outside to where my husband was entertaining his friend.  I decided to drink an ice cold beer in the hopes it might calm me down and relax me.  I thought to myself that if I were in front of company, then surely my parts would behave and I’d be able to act natural.  But that’s not what happened.  I sat down with them and opened my beer.  It felt good going down my throat, which was so parched it seemed to absorb the liquid like a sponge.  I tried to smile and make chit chat but Husband could tell something was wrong.  I told him I was dizzy and didn’t feel so good.

By this time my head felt like it was going to explode and I was seeing spots.  I had also decided that I must definitely be having a heart attack. I was having chest pains so severe that it made me nauseated.  And it was impossible to hide the shaking by this point.  I was struggling to catch my breath and sweat was pouring down my forehead.  I knew I had to get inside and lie down.  Husband was talking to me during all of this but I can’t remember what was being said.  I think he was trying to help me get a grip but it was much too late for that.  I had started having shooting pains running down my left side, which further proved to me that this was indeed a heart attack.  Obviously, when things got worse, my heart just beat harder and faster. I could feel it skipping beats. I was certain that my heart was just going to give out at any moment. But I had to try and get inside the house, out of the heat, which was just exacerbating my condition.

I remember starting to walk across the backyard, toward the house….it seemed so far away.  I was seeing double and felt like my legs just wouldn’t hold me up so it was a struggle just taking a step. I didn’t get very far.  Husband said he saw me go down. I don’t remember that part, but it seems that I sat down in the grass and started to lie down.  I think I was just so desperate for some peace, as the noise in my head was overpowering.  Husband came to my rescue and got me up off the ground and was helping me to the porch.  I remember very clearly going up the steps because everything started going black.  I knew I was going to faint, but I thought maybe I could make it to the couch. At first I had tunnel vision, then I just blacked out. The last thing I remember is Husband telling me to pull it together, that Mom was going to see and get frightened.  Too late.  She saw through the glass doors. And what a sight it must have been. Husband trying to hold me upright, me unable to stand or speak, collapsed in a puddle on the porch, my eyes rolling back into my head.  I can’t remember the next bit. I guess Mom helped Husband get me inside. I do recall hearing Mom say, “We’re going to the hospital!” but Husband assured her that wasn’t necessary.

Now when the heart palpitations and breathing difficulties had first begun, I took a whole bar of Xanax. It didn’t seem to work then, but once I was inside the house, it worked a little too well. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I just wanted to go to sleep. It was impossible for me to explain to my mother that I was just having a panic attack, that I’d be OK, that I just needed to calm down and cool off and be in a quiet space for awhile. She was freaking out which of course made me feel even worse… this vicious cycle continued for what seemed an eternity.  I’m not sure how long it took me to get calmed down, but in the end it was decided by my mother that I needed to eat something. It was evening time and I’d not had a bite to eat all day. Which I suppose is one reason I fainted. So believe it or not, after all this drama, I got taken out to dinner. It’s like I was rewarded for being mental.

I was still shaky at the restaurant, but as soon as there was food in front of me, I totally pigged out. I was starving at that point. I guess all the mental bullshit gave me an appetite.  So I ate and ate. And once I got home, I assured my mother I was feeling better, and I put on my pajamas and did absolutely nothing for the rest of the night.  It was nice to be “turned off” for a bit.  Now, today, it’s time to face the fear which incapacitated me yesterday. I’m about to leave for the hospital. My mom’s surgery is in less than 2 hours. I have a bottle of Xanax in my purse, and I’ve already taken 1 mg.  My aunt is picking us up any minute now.  I have to be strong today. I can’t have a meltdown again. Hopefully I got it all out of my system yesterday. We shall see… *crosses fingers and toes*

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