Sooo close to normal

When we are operating at a level closer to normal, I think we always have an eye over our shoulder. I do.

I’ve had a good few weeks. Long stretches where I walk with my eyes straight ahead, not looking inside to see what that blip was.

I’ve had my moments, don’t get me wrong. Moments I’ve had to reassure myself that my heart is healthy, my blood tests were normal and my EEG/MRI were good….but I’ve been able to make it a pause in my day and move on.

I’ve had 3 workouts without a meltdown a few hours later because my heart skips around. That is epic.

So when I was hit with panic last night, I was unprepared, sort of.

I had such a good day with my spouse. We decided to rent a movie. It was about a woman becoming a bondsman. Half way through the movie, I start feeling anxious. My flight response is to hop into the tub. I was SO wanting the movie to be done.

Once it was, I made a beeline for it. I cried because I didn’t realize a movie with some violence would knock me back so far. But it did.

On come the heart flutters and pounding. Breathing was stressed. What is that pain, what does that cramp mean…

Like clockwork.

My spouse felt bad because the movie was their pick. I felt bad because it was a shitty ending to a great day.

Through the night, I’m not sure if I kept waking up with pounding skipping beats and panic (I never have before) or if I was dreaming I was. I don’t feel I’ve been up all night….strange.

So this morning, I’m back to the bath, back to laying in my bed for a while mustering the courage to get dressed for work. Praying, reading positive quotes (which I do daily anyway), and wondering if I’ll keep this monster caged so I can get through my day.

I know I’m not clear back at the beginning. I feel stronger than that, but I also know I’ll never proclaim I’m “cured” because I believe it’s always a work in progress.

Like I’ve said before, I think God must have a plan that involves the lessons I am learning through all of this. I refuse to believe He would allow me to be in this much (i know, its far less right now) agony for no reason. It HAS to be for the greater good.

Maybe someone who has lost hope will stumble across my babbling and know they are not suffering alone. Maybe it will help them find more strength and press on because there are SO many of us out here….it’s not a unique ailment. It sucks, but the things we feel:

Skipped beats
Pounding beats
Fear for our health and subsequent fear for our lives
Feelings of difficult breathing
Raised blood pressure (for those that have been cleared medically, this is controlled by our minds)
Feelings of dread or doom
Feelings of intense fear/worry
Feelings of unreality or being a witness to happenings around us
Fear we will jump up, scream and run around doing embarrassing or harmful things(I had this early on. VERY terrible feeling!)
Fear of being left alone
Planning routes to be close to medical assistance

These seem to be the most common but there are more.

They are scary. Can be terrifying and debilitating.

But, they are common. I’ve felt them. Not all, but many.

The thing that helped me the most was addressing each and every medical worry. I have a great GP whom I can talk to honestly about my concerns. Yes, it costs money both for insurance and personally but my thoughts, and his is this:

If we run all the tests you are constantly worrying about and they come back good…you can check those off your list. It also let’s you know if they do find something (like my PVC/PACs) what can be done about it.

My blood tests showed a higher than preferred glucose, creatinine and magnesium level. Why am I not freaking out?

Because I hadn’t eaten. I only had a sports drink before the test. High in sugar, high in magnesium. I had been taking tons of hot baths (epsom – which is magnesium) and likely not hydrating enough which would bump the kidney function test (creatinine) to 1.0 instead of .05-.09.

I’ll repeat the test in a few weeks and likely will be fine.

I’ve changed my diet to exclude a lot of processed sugar (difficult in our society) and have sadly had to skip my occasional Starbucks coffee. I don’t drink pop or have caffeine. It causes my heart to bounce and why bring that on!

I’ve also found that much processed and natural sugar can push anxiety and panic. I’ll eat fruit in moderation but don’t eat much else with sugar. I feel better without it. I feel elated when I have it, followed by not feeling so great. I prefer to feel better and ration the times I’m willing to feel crappy for a treat.

I take a multivitamin and drink a lot of water. I’m obsessed with proper hydration because for years, I have been dehydrated. I perform better hydrated. My skin looks better and I drop weight pretty easily simply by drinking more water. (cutting sugar didn’t hurt!)

I take time to shut down electronics. Put away my phone and get away from television and distractions we have all clogged our lives with.

I pray and list the things I’m grateful for.

All of these things have helped me calm my panic and anxiety attacks down. I’m at this moment in life, not inundated with one right after the other like I had been.

Reading about them helped too. But staying away from worst case scenarios would have helped too. It’s human nature to read what COULD be. It makes what IS feel worse because we will now be on high alert for those other things.

Educate yourself to the point that you know how they biologically and mentally/emotionally work, read things like my blog and others that have been or are going through it so you know you’re not crazy, seek medical advice/assistance and then stop.

Too much knowledge or reading provokes more attacks. I’ve done it. I had to stop because it was pushing more along. Once I settled into my knowledge I have, I’ve done better.

Google is helpful AND detrimental all at once. Stop yourself just short of reading other people’s horror stories. They may have contributing factors they are not sharing or be aware of. Your symptoms may be similar but, they may have more things provoking them than you.

I got an email from a lady that started out telling me that we were alike, before her stroke…

After terrifying me, I found she had many other contributing factors that would have caused her stroke. That moment I heard what had been said days before. You can read too much. You can OVER educate yourself into panic attacks.

I was done. It helped.

Yes last night and this morning is a little setback. But I know I’m not headed back to the beginning because I’m ok. I’m healthy. I was doing well and just over estimated my abilities at the moment. However, I did finish watching the movie, cried a moment and went on. Not as sure as before, but I’m still moving ahead. It is moments of panic vs. total panic like before.

We need to see the progress. Even when we have a setback.


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