The Twenty-Five Hour Panic Attack

I really appreciate the readers of this blog, old and new, and I am thrilled when I receive comments.  I try to respond to each one personally and visit your blogs as well, so I want to apologize for not keeping up with that the past few days.  I am having some major panic issues, or else I’m dying (just kidding…maybe…I hope!)  It started while I was exercising Thursday evening.  I was at a moderate pace when I began feeling that familiar tightness in my chest.  I began slowing my workout down so that I could stop and rest because it felt like a panic attack was about to happen.  Within seconds it was a fullblown attack, which feels exactly like a heart attack (from what I have read and been told).  I struggled to go get some Tums (for the indigestion and nausea that comes along with the attacks) and a Klonopin (reserved for the worst ones) and worked on calming myself with my breathing exercises.  I tried to imagine myself floating on air, light and careless. Usually all of these things combined ease a panic attack within 10-20 minutes, but this one just kept going.  I stumbled into the bedroom to wake my fiance (not due up for another couple of hours for his night shift) so he could watch our son and try to calm me down.  At this point I was beginning to worry a lot.  What if this really is a heart problem?  After all, I was exercising, maybe I overdid it.  Maybe I am dying.  Maybe I need to go to the hospital.  I tried to voice my concerns to my fiance, but I can’t talk during these attacks so all I could do was softly gasp out words like “dying!”  and “hospital!”  Douglas has had a lot of experience seeing me like this, so he wasn’t worried at all.  He just kept telling me to breathe and to remember that I am strong and I will get through this.  When it was time for him to leave for work and the pain had still not eased off, he brought me the phone and told me to call if I needed him.  

I gripped that phone to my chest all night, in such mental and physical agony.  Why has this not stopped yet?!?!?  Should I call Douglas?  Should I call an ambulance?  Obviously, if a “normal” person was having chest pains this severe, it would make sense to seek medical attention; it would be stupid not to!  But when you are a mental health patient with a history of panic attacks, it feels more like a matter of crying wolf. I know how it goes with this sort of thing at the ER.  First of all, I don’t have insurance so they wouldn’t be real gung ho about helping me anyway.  Any tests they run would be cut down to a bare legal minimum, and then at the least little peep that I have a mental health condition, they would convince me it is, indeed, all in my head and send me home.  Of course, I would still get a bill for thousands of dollars, a nice little award for me being scared enough to wait hours in an emergency room for nothing.  Yay.  That’s really what I want to go through when I am either having a panic attack (as usual) or my heart is about to explode.  

So, I did not call the ambulance.

And I did not call Douglas because I knew he was working and he knew the condition I was in when he left me, and if he decided it was safe to leave me alone (well, with our sleeping child beside me in the bed) then maybe I should just trust him.  

I was still in the same condition when he got home the next morning; I had wafted in and out of sleep the last two hours of the night, but had otherwise been completely awake and in pain.  I finally, after 25 hours of this mess, started feeling better Friday evening.  I was very thankful for this, not only because I was exhausted and tired of the pain, but I wanted to be able to enjoy having my girls home this weekend.  I had to take it easy as far as physical activity and stressful situations, but fortunately they all got along very nicely this weekend, with none of the usual fights.  I have felt a lot of tightness in my chest here and there, but when I laid down for a few minutes it would subside and I could resume what I was doing before.  We had a lot of fun with some art projects and flying kites.  It was a truly great weekend, even with the fear of a rebound attack.  I am going to try to find a doctor to see me about this soon, ideally this week.  In the mean time, I will attempt to keep calm and carry on.  

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