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My introductory post, 2 years ago. I AM a survivor!

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Monday, 02 April 2007

Posted by: bobbi_bridgers on Monday, April 02, 2007

 I am a 34 year old mother of two (10 yr old boy, 6 yr old girl) and wife of 10-1/2 yrs. I have had limited attacks since my early 20's, though I didn't know what they were back then. Had my first major attack about 5 years ago while at work. I was sitting at my desk, working o­n the computer and the screen started going blurry. I got tunnel vision, racing-pounding heart, cold sweat, shaking, nausea, the whole nine yards. I came very close to passing out. I remember asking a coworker what was wrong with our computers? Was hers freaking out too? Of course, hers was fine. It wasn't the computer, it was ME! O­nce I realized that, I just knew I was having a stroke! My husband (who worked with me) brought me to the ER. After several normal tests, including an EKG, I came back *down* and was able to go home. Follow up visits screened for epilepsy, diabetes, heart disorders (halter monitor), everything. Doctors could find nothing physically wrong. I got my first diagnosis of panic attacks.

I guess my body and mind were more resilient back then and I was able to pull myself together and go o­n with life. I had an occasional limited attack, but never a real blow out again, until.... Fast forward to almost 3 years ago. Sitting o­n the couch, watching *Trauma: Life in the ER* (isn't it amazing what you can recall about your biggest pa?), not feeling particularly stressed or excited, when it hit me. It started with the pounding-racing heart. I swore I could see it pounding through my shirt. I called my husband into the room and asked him to feel my heart. As soon as he touched me, the rush began.

I told him I didn't feel well and immediately broke out in a drenching sweat and chills. My whole body was shaking uncontrollably. My chest was tight and it was hard to breathe. Suddenly I felt like I was going to both throw up and have diarrhea at the same time and somehow quickly made my way to the bathroom. I never actually experienced either o­ne, by the way. At this point I was hyperventilating - I was numb all over and my hands and feet were drawing up into claws. I asked my husband to call an ambulance, knowing that this was a heart attack (I smoked at the time). Our daughter was there, in bed, and my husband called his brother and wife to see if they would come over and sit with our daughter. He was then going to call the ambulance. Well, my SIL is a nurse and she told my husband she would be right over (the o­nly live 2 minutes away).

By the time he hung up with her, I had already started to feel better, so I told him not to call the ambulance just yet. Just then, my mother in law and other sister in law came in, bringing my son home. My nurse SIL and BIL showed up at the same time. My daughter woke up too. So there I was, lying half naked, shivering, sweating, a total mess o­n the floor and 7 people were all there to witness it! My nurse SIL checked my vitals, and though my pulse rate was obviously high, everything else was OK. The attack was nearing its end and I decided not to go to the hospital at all.

Then, as suddenly as the first attack happened, another came...and went, and came and went. After the third wave, I decided to let my husband and SIL take me to the hospital. In the ER, they o­nce again ran an EKG, drew blood, urine, the whole nine yards. Everything was normal, other than periods of tachycardia (fast heartbeat), which is not alarming by itself.

The doctor diagnosed anxiety o­nce again, gave me a tranquilizer and everything calmed right down. I went o­n home after that. Follow up appointments with my general practitioner tested for everything under the sun. I was referred to a cardiologist, just to make sure I had no heart problems (I didn't/don't) and was once again diagnosed with panic attacks and panic disorder.

This began a two year long experiment with anti-depressant and anti-anxiety meds, therapy and relaxation techniques. The anti-depressant meds made me feel even worse than without them - went through 6 different o­nes. The Ativan made me feel wonderful - too much so and I eventually became hooked o­n them. I rapidly deteriorated - I had a very hard time going anywhere, I became more and more housebound, I eventually quit my job and spent my days o­nline, trying to diagnose myself with everything from heart disease to MS to stroke.

Eventually, I finally came to the point where I gave in. If I was going to die, then so be it. There was nothing I could gain by worrying about it. O­nce I finally quit fighting the fear, I amazingly started to get better. I had quit all my meds, mainly because the side effects were unbearable for me. The attacks became less and less frequent, I was able to go out more and my *symptoms* gradually subsided, o­ne by o­ne.

After 5 months, I was able to go back to work and really felt somewhat normal again. Mind you, it has never completely gone away. I still have symptoms and attacks every o­nce in a while, but nothing like it was before. My worst enemy with my PAs is myself. I've become a hypochondriac. I am hyper vigilant over all body sensations, especially my heartbeat. I don't even like feeling my own heartbeat, even when it's normal. I definitely have a heart-phobia. I don't like anyone showing concern or worry about me or any of my symptoms, because it's almost like it reinforces that there's something wrong. Does that make any sense? I have contracted what they call White Coat Disease - which is fear, anxiety over doctor visits, including the dentist. Every time I go to a doctor, hospital or dentist - even when I'm there with someone else, my heart starts pounding, I shake and sweat, my vision gets blurry and I feel lightheaded and dizzy.

For the most part I have learned to deal with my disorder and can usually talk myself down. I do have some sleepless nights occasionally and sometimes, it all gets away from me and I end up panicking, but never as bad as in the beginning. Recently, I have started having a lot more symptoms and a lot more frequently. I went to the doctor a few days ago for a check up and will be having blood work done next week to check for diabetes, thyroid, etc. Physically, doc says everything looks fine and has suggested I go back o­n anti-d's. Said with panic disorder, even when someone feels good for a while, it usually eventually resurfaces. I am considering the meds, but haven't made my mind up yet.

So...that's me and my experience with panic attacks/disorder. I hope to find many words of wisdom and comfort here - which I'm sure I will. And if there's anything I can contribute, I will do so gladly. I hated feeling so alone for so long with this and I don't want anyone else to suffer with that either. It's good to be among friends. 
 Bobbi
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Comments (6)add comment

LadyT said:

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Reading your story was like me telling my own life story! Up until now they had no idea what was going on with me. I hope you still post on here cuz I'd love to talk to you.
 
November 20, 2007
Votes: +0

LadyT said:

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Reading your story was like me telling my own life story! Up until now they had no idea what was going on with me. I hope you still post on here cuz I'd love to talk to you.
 
November 20, 2007
Votes: +0

kellie said:

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I can totally relate to your story! the meds.make me worse and I have the white coat syndrome too and also can not have anyone take any concern for me or I get worse.I also seem to have times that they wax and wane.Recently for the past month things have been worse but the last 4 d I am starting to feel stronger again.Thanks for sharing
 
January 20, 2008
Votes: +0

kellie said:

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I can totally relate to your story! the meds.make me worse and I have the white coat syndrome too and also can not have anyone take any concern for me or I get worse.I also seem to have times that they wax and wane.Recently for the past month things have been worse but the last 4 d I am starting to feel stronger again.Thanks for sharing
 
January 20, 2008
Votes: +0

cherie said:

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Hi Bobbi,
I am trying to get my hospital to implement a brief intervention program for those who use the emergency room because they are having a panic attack. I'm finishing up my graduate degree in social work and would like to get your opinion on the following questions. Thanks,
Cherie :)
 
November 15, 2008
Votes: +0

cherie said:

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Hi Bobbi,
I am trying to get my hospital to implement a brief intervention program for those who use the emergency room because they are having a panic attack. I'm finishing up my graduate degree in social work and would like to get your opinion on the following questions. Thanks,
Cherie :)
 
November 15, 2008
Votes: +0

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Last Updated ( Monday, 19 November 2007 )
 


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