Legal Chest Pains


I have been worried about my heart the last few days.

Having PVC & PAC activity is always disturbing but it seems a little different lately. More episodes, stronger extra beats or like this morning, two quick episodes of sharp pain with them.

I am sure I have had pain in the past. A faint memory is lying there but I can’t wrap my full attention around it.

When you have sharp chest pains and you are someone with “health anxiety” (the polite term for hypochondriac) then it sets off all sorts of warning alarms that I have mentioned in past posts.

For those not familiar, it goes a little something like this:

Minding my own business

Pain or dizziness – something out of the norm – could be a twitch or twinge

All systems stop in their tracks while the mind and body “listen” for anything else to happen. If it does, that occurrence is analyzed fully and completely.

Analyzing an occurrence goes like this:

What was THAT?

It was a…..<insert symptom here>

I wonder if that is a problem!

<Insert symptom here>

There it is again!

Okay, it was a sharp pain. It was in the center of my chest.

OH MY GOD ITS A HEART ATTACK

~ Launch all systems GO evaluation~

Blood pressure cuff – on and inflating (please be normal, please be normal….)

PulseOx meter attached (DON’T look at it for 10 seconds because it is always off while it calculates. DON’T LOOK YET)

Blood pressure results – within normal ranges (Thank goodness….)

PulseOx within normal limits (Thank goodness)

Pause……

“I wonder if I did them right.”

Relaunch check of symptoms

Within normal ranges

“Oh thank God! But…what is that pain? I’ll just look it up on the Internet….”

FAIL

As someone with health anxiety (don’t be rude, that is what we are calling it. YOU can be a hypochondriac…I am NOT!) searching the Internet for what ails you is the kiss of….well…..anxiety or panic…we CAN’T say the other word or it provokes nervousness.

If you are not in a full-blown attack then, you will be within a few minutes of clicking and sifting through the best terrorizing medical information the web has to offer.

The thing is? We KNOW this yet…we do it again and again.

I did it this morning after my bout of chest pain. “I can’t go to the doctor so I almost HAVE to rely on the Internet, don’t I?”

Um, no but that doesn’t stop me.

I sit down on the edge of my bed facing the window. This is where I go when I start having anxiety. That SHOULD be my first clue but it never is.

I bring up the search engine. “Tell me what my death sentence is Dr. Google” I almost say as I begin my sifting.

One thing I have learned is to stay away from WebMD as it will ALWAYS tell me absolute death is impending. Paper cut? Can become infected leading to death. Hang nail? Seek emergency medical attention as you may die.

We stay away from WebMD but Mayo Clinic is my golden child of the “What am I dying of today” world.

Mayo Clinic tells me the facts but almost leans toward not telling me enough. They always throw in when to seek medical attention but it doesn’t seem as ominous as WebMd does.

So far it could be spasms in my digestive track, PVC/PAC activity just causing pain or…brace yourself, it could be anxiety.

So, I launch another round of vital checks and determine that if I am going to die today, I need to accomplish something worthwhile.

Instead, I start writing.

What I have learned over the last year of my life is that I have become a VERY anxious person. I was always a Type A personality before but never full of twists and turns like I have now.

My previous employer shares much of the blame of the creation of the mess we all see before our eyes.

Years of being treated poorly and differently than my peers took its toll but nothing like the last and final month of my employment after returning from FMLA. The torment elevated to amazing new heights as they clearly felt the need to retaliate for my absence and then plotted my departure.

I have YEARS of excellent service to that company and needed time off to put Humpty Dumpty back together again because I was torn down from all of your games and demands and you couldn’t get past the time off I needed so you termed me? Makes total sense.

I am being told that my life will be better without my involvement in that company, in that department and certainly in that toxic environment but while I wait for that “bliss” to hit, I am left worrying about medical insurance, life insurance and of course, the almighty dollar to pay my bills when I did everything you asked me to do.

One of the things about the culture I worked in was that they pushed “We will provide you with all of the tools you need to do your job effectively” yet when I reminded them that I don’t have the tools, I was written up. When I didn’t quit as they thought I would, they fired me.

 

As your employee you promised me that you would lead me with all stops removed, to the type of manager you wanted me to be. I did as asked, when asked and usually much better than I was asked to do it, and then you let me go?

That just doesn’t seem ethical. Considering the source, that isn’t a shock.

So today I am fighting my way through the worry that the after effects of your poor and tortuous treatment of me have caused permanent damage.

I pray. I hope and I know that God will take care of me but I also hope that I don’t “go” before I have something important to leave behind. I am not ready and hope God allows me the chance to do something of value for Him, and me.

 

 

 

 

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Old worries like to visit


I generally move about my day trying to keep an eye on the anxiety. I greet it with a professional nod and try to keep going.

Anxiety/Panic are like that co-worker who likes to invade your space. It gets too close, has eaten onions and ass for lunch and smells like it hasn’t showered in years. It stands super close and spits as it talks but wants to cling to you during a very long and intense conversation that you would really love to avoid any part of…..but, you’re stuck.

Keeping a friendly but impersonal distance is best but not always possible. You don’t want to hurt its feelings and cause it to lash out so you try to be cordial but you sure don’t give it time to chat.

My anxiety is bossy and controlling. When its low on the charts, I feel it lurking but I am able to stay pretty functional while I am at work. Then….

Its time to come home. Its quiet. There is less to do and fewer distractions. That annoying co-worker lives with me and even though I continue to be professional and respectful, it likes to come in my room, take over my private time and causes me to spin in circles trying to ignore its presence. It all but jumps on my bed and throws my things on the floor!

But, I manage to keep it to a distance. Annoying, present but a little subdued.

As I climb my way through my days, I find myself returning to one original fear that cannot be confirmed or denied. On February 25th, it will have been one year to the day since my anxiety/panic took hold and insisted we were soul mates destined to be together every moment of every day.

They say that the longer it has been since you functioned without the intensity of anxiety/panic, the harder it is for you to recall what it was like before fear ruled your world. I would have to agree to a point.

I look back and recall literally living in my bathtub. My current water bill reflects as much with HUGE spikes indicating the comparative usage that I am now paying an arm and leg for. What was I to do? I know water is a precious resource but it was the ONLY time I could get some relief.

The bathroom was my safe haven. It was quiet. It was secluded. It was a place I could talk to God without interruption. My family was and is wonderful when it comes to leaving me alone when I am in the tub because I would honestly be in there for hours.

I would beg God to help me. I would argue that I can’t be any good to Him or anyone else if I was paralyzed by this world gripping torment and fear. I insisted that I wanted to do good things in His name, if he would just allow me to rid myself of this anguish.

No, I wasnt lying. At least, I truly do not think I was. My sincerest desire IS to do right by Him. God has been there and I have had first hand experience with His help. There is nothing that can shake my faith. I might get angry. I might demand that I be cured and I might insist that I can’t continue to believe without relief….but He and I both know it isn’t true.

Over the last two days I have been listening to a Podcast by Tara Brach. The one I was listening to was titled “Remembering What Matters” and several parts of it struck home.

Intentions. What are our intentions when it comes to dealing with others or even ourselves?

I can say that I am human and humans….well, we know they suck. They are self-involved and sometimes just say or do things that are mean or without any reason other than to be difficult.

As I am listening and agreeing, I was almost run off the road by a self-absorbed driver. I wasnt the only one.

I became so angry! I sped up just to get next to her to waive my hands like “What the hell!” and then I continued on my way. When she sped up, I sped up. We played this game for a few miles until we turned off onto another stretch of road. I then slowed down to trap her behind me and between the other cars.

All while I was listening to the Podcast “Remembering What Matters”. She slowed down and went around the other cars and kept going. I stopped being a jerk.

As I drove to work, I wondered to myself “What the hell!” I wondered why I had to make an already upsetting situation worse. She was a terrible driver and I honestly pray that God protects those around her (and her as well) because she just changes lanes, she doesn’t bother to see if anyone is in it first. (Yes, apparently still a tad irritated by the whole thing…Im a work in progress!)

I wondered if I was just destined to be quick-tempered now. My fuse used to be SO long. I was so easy-going for the most part. Of course, once the fuse was used up, well, look out, but it took a very long time.

Since this panic and anxiety, I am quick to react in the car or at home. At work, I think I have to hold things together so tightly that it oozes out in places where I am not required to have as much control. But…..

Then I feel bad. I feel like a failure. I feel like I could listen to a million podcasts or books on “tape” and be just as much of a jerk without them.

So, I had to apologize to God for being a road rage jerk. I apologized to myself for being so intent on “proving some point” that I really, proved nothing except I have such a LONG way to go it is overwhelming.

So of course today, I had a few moments of health anxiety and continued snippyness toward my employees and my family.

Once I got home I realized I wasnt feeling that great. A bit achy and perhaps a very mild touch of a sore throat and then…….

That burst of worry.

Through this time I have had recurring worries that the reason I am having so much difficulty is because I delayed treatment for what was likely a bat bite. It took me about 3 weeks to actually place a call and get in so in my Health Anxiety mind, perhaps that time was my undoing and I am suffering the slow take over of my mind by Rabies.

What do Health Anxiety sufferers do in the early stages of their affliction? Well, we Google. We Google the SHIT out of our worries. We search and search for the meaning to this and that.

Since this Rabies concern has been on and off for almost 2 years, I have gathered an arsenal of information from the CDC, Mayo, WebMd and The World Health Organization.

Flu like symptoms well, today, check. In the past I held my breath for more confirmation.

Headaches. I have had one on and off for the last week. Never mind my stress at work is off the charts and I clench my shoulders like I am getting ready to take down a linebacker.

Sore throat. It’s not quite sore but there is something there. It COULD be sore….but again, my ears have been bothering me a bit the last week so….

Anxiety and aggitation….well….yes. Yes I do and ON goes the light and the engine starts to rev.

I feel achy. I feel like MAYBE I am getting the flu. I have a headache, I may or may not have a sore throat and I am always agitated.

Once the symptoms come on its 2 – 10 days. So….as you can imagine….for the next 10 days I am going to be waiting for it all to end.

While I do, I ponder. IF I AM really going to die, how do I want to spend the last 10 days?

Do I spend them in a job that I dislike working for people who treat me poorly? Do I spend it keeping my position running fairly smoothly while they run me into the ground? Do I spend my “last days” chasing that dollar for a life I “may” not have?

The answers settle in. No. No I don’t want to do any of those things. I want to be free from a place that makes me feel bad every moment of every single day. I want to enjoy listening to the birds sing and watch as the sun rises or sets. I want to sit back and wonder how I ever allowed myself to fall into that trap……but…….

My family would need the life insurance policy. They would need my last wages and savings…..

So, I sit blinking as the birds fly away and the sunrise/sunset disappear leaving the darkness that I have faced for pretty close to the last year.

I try to reason with my semi-irrational fear but as we all know, there is no reasoning with Crazy.

I introduced you all to Crazy a while back. Crazy does what she wants and is very difficult to deal with. Crazy thinks, walks, talks and acts the way Crazy wants and God help you if you get in her way.

So, Crazy is insisting that I have Rabies. Crazy swears that when I die, THEN they will all know that what she has been saying ALL ALONG is true….SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH ME!

But

I don’t have a fever. It is winter and I spent the last day cold. I havent slept well because I was afraid to miss the alarm. I ache because I am so tense at work I could be a diamond factory. I have headache because I swear my body is trying to expel my head from its base. My ears and throat may or may not be sore because…..its COLD AND FLU SEASON and NO ONE WASHES THEIR HANDS OR COVERS THEIR MOUTH WHEN THEY SNEEZE OR COUGH!!

I have had anxiety because I truly think I was on a rollercoaster of fight or flight. I had many many unique and volatile situations transpire one right after the other for more than a month. I do belive it created a vortex that led to the mess you read before you now. I think our bodies can be conditioned to produce adrenaline. I think our system gets confused and is ready to go at any given time because that is what it has been ready to do for quite some time, we just don’t have external reasons for the survival mode.

Its funny because I recall very vividly the day that I decided I was no longer going to fret or fear about obscure possibilities or perceived threats.

I have always been a hypervigilant person. I was raised in a hypervigilant time and with separate but equally hypervigilant parents. Everything was a possible threat to my safety. Everyone and everything so I became a hypervigilant adult who part-time jobs like nighttime security officer or working with troubled and sometimes violent people. It clearly gave me an external reason to keep an eye on everything around me.

The day I decided I wasnt going to worry so much, I was concerned about some car or some person. I reasoned out the likelihood that it was a true threat and I left it alone. From that moment on, I havent been that same person….externally.

Within a few weeks I was depressed over work, anxious and felt I needed a little medical intervention. I had taken the medication as prescribed and that was it. It was all over. I had a bad reaction and I was off the charts with Panic and anxiety from that moment on.

My work aggravated it. My boss propelled it. I was a victim of a silent force that I couldn’t see or pinpoint. I was at its mercy and it ravaged my soul like an inferno.

But

It HAS gotten better. Yes, I fear that I actually have Rabies but there is a part of me that knows I will be here in 11 days, 689 days and 1354 days….if God deems it appropriate.

Crazy has had to work with me. She so badly wants me to start pacing, bathing and crying over the possibility of this terrible disease but I deliver the ultimate blow every time she throws it out there………

If I am going to die of Rabies, there clearly is nothing that can be done. No vaccine, no medical intervention……nothing. Once it takes hold, I wont even know what is happening. I have to believe God has a built-in safeguard for one’s ability to process what an awful thing is happening and if there is a small chance that I am wrong, then I will have moments of clarity and know that it is almost over and this world that I fear so much will be behind me.

You see, it has never been the actual passing of my life that has caused me the greatest anxiety, it has been the worry that I will know it is happening and I didn’t want to deal with that.

Once on the other side, I know God is waiting. I know that He will welcome me and that I will be at peace.

Health Anxiety is something that doesn’t reason well and doesn’t make a lot of sense. We become afraid of everything from over the counter medications to germs. Everything is catastrophic. Everything is leading to THE END.

It is the one outburst that Crazy can have that will get some attention regardless of how big or small and no matter how much I remind her of what I have said above, she wants to find that little hole of doubt and exploit it.

So fellow sufferers, you’re not alone. You are never alone because each of us in our own ways can identify with another. We all know that pleading look or pale moment. We all know what it feels like to have the room swoon or the pit of our stomach lurch at the mention of our triggers.

For those with Health Anxiety, we all know what it is like to do a constant scan of our health, our bodies and our feelings looking for one small obscure feeling that is out-of-place and we will search to find a reason for it, even when there likely isn’t one.

We could all be PhD’s with the tests, symptoms and treatments we have looked up in our time with Health Anxiety but we still can’t quite heal ourselves!

So, I am off to the bath to subdue Crazy before bed. The Rabies battle wages on and I could use a little quiet from her screeching ways.

 

Meltdown


Epic. Catastrophic. Over the top.

Those can describe yesterday.

I was doing….”Okay”. I have been fairly okayish many days. Not fine, not free, just….okay.

Christmas started out rough. I had disequalibrium which just scares the Crap out of me. However, I’ve learned taking ibuprofen helps a great deal which leads me to believe it is indeed swelling in my neck causing the floating, pre-fainting feeling. I get it badly when I look down a lot or am turning my head side to side like walking in a store looking for something. I also get it when I tense, which is what I do. I often feel like my shoulders are stuffed inside the base of my skull.

So, Christmas with the family went well. I was proud. I was good at work yesterday morning. Half day. Was headed to see my friend who is in her final stages of cancer after but had a chiropractor appointment first. I figured my neck is my problem, I would start being proactive.

We meet. He takes xrays, we do a minor quick adjustment and I’m out the door. I feel better….then, tingling creeps into my cheek. I joke about getting ready to have a stroke….then it creeps down my neck into my left deltoid, forearm and wrist.

I go see my friend. When I arrive, her dog runs to me and I pet her. I stand there figuring out who and where everyone is at, as I always do. Her son comes around the corner and….something is different. He comes over to me. He looks distant. Dazed. He says “Didn’t anyone tell you?” No, tell me what? Did something happen? “You don’t know?”

I feel sick. I sure know now.

Is she gone? “I can’t believe no one told you”.

Me either.

I’m so sorry. Are you okay? “Not really.” I know. I’m sorry.

He walks away. Dazed. Her other son comes around the corner. Same look. Shit. It’s true. She’s gone.

Indeed her sister. Same conversaton. “I’m sorry, I thought you’d see it on Facebook.”

I don’t get on her Facebook. I was at work. I don’t get on anyone’s Facebook.

“I thought you knew”

I keep hearing that, but clearly, I did not. I saw her the night before. As we were alone, I talked to her.softly. She can hear. She knows what you’re saying. She can only respond with restlessness.

“You made it to Christmas. You’re amazing. I know you did that for your kids. You’re amazing. Now, its up to you. You’re free to go tomorrow, the next day or never. You get to decide. I promise I’ll take care of your sister and watch over your boys. I’ll do it even if she fights me. So, if you’re tired and want to go….go. Its okay. We sure don’t want you to but we know this is miserable for you. We want what is best for you. Always.”

She died the next morning and no, no one told me.

So, I head home. Dazed. Numbness in my face and left arm. I start to fret its really a stroke.

I get home, have lunch and order the food I was to bring back at 6.

I feel worse and now I’m starting to panic. I recall the doc doing the wrist strength test. He repeated my left one three times, clearly concerned. It stuck in my thoughts. I wonder what that means.

I Google. Epic mistake.

I run into a blur about chiropractic adjustments on the neck causing stroke. That’s it. All alarms start sounding. Stroke. A MAJOR trigger.
The alarms become louder.

Vertibral aortic dissection is what I diagnosed myself with. It’s something that can happen after a neck adjustment. I read a case study on a 38 year old male. Went in after a month of headaches. Had an adjustment and then immediately had balance and speaking issues. Waited an hour in the waiting room before driving home. Had to be driven home from work the next day and by day 3, was headed to the ER for major issues and a long not totally unresolved recovery. Smoked 20 packs a day. No other notes.

That was it. I’m going to have a stroke. I call the doc. Leave a message.

By now I’m checking pulse ox and bp like crazy debating driving to the ER.

I Google like mad. 5th common reason for stroke. More common in young and middle age. Sneezing, picking up something too heavy….blah blah.

The doc calls back. Questions about both arms, one arm, which, oh left. Dizziness? Room spinning? Vision issues? He sounds relieved. Thinks the nerves are irritated. He will take a loom during my appointment tomorrow.

We hang up.

Um, not going. Thanks.

So, I had to cancel the food and call my friends sister. There is no way I can drive clear across town in rush hour while having a stroke.

I let them all down. I promised to take care of them, and right out of the gate….I failed.

Distraught. Pleading, praying, bartering and begging…..

I spent the next 4 hours in a state of chaos and agony. Utter despair. Bawling. Hating myself. Hating who I’ve become. I should be morning my friend. Praying for her and her family, not wollowing in my Crap!

My spouse is helpless. Probably sick of it. More guilt.

I woke up this morning. Still guilt filled. Still forlorn. Still sad.

Still here.

12 days SEEMS like longer


I looked at my posts and saw July 29th as my last one. Unless you count the one hung up in drafts, but that’s gone. I thought “WOW!!” Thinking it was like a month or something. “I am REALLY doing better!” I looked on the calendar. Okay, maybe not AS well, but 12 days is good.

I neglect to include the 10 minute melt down out of the blue Sunday. It was 10 minutes. I argue that it shouldn’t even be included. But my mind disagrees. Whatever. It controls EVERYTHING anyway, I guess its right.

I forget about these silly moments spent fretting over stroke. It’s being anxious, not in a panic. It shouldn’t count either.

In reality, I am doing better. I think about earlier this year and remember that nasty closed in fear from hell I fought every minute of every day and want to hug God for letting me get away from it.

A quiet hot bath is my coping mechanism when panic is out of control. I was in and out of the tub so much I should have had fins.

I take one, maybe two a day now. Not usually because of terror but because being clean matters and I decompress a bit.

I’m mostly off my blood pressure and pulse ox monitoring. I do it once in a while but not all day every day like before.

I still Google health worries but not as many, as much. However, right now I’m fretting over stroke…again.

I have a new eye twitch with some mild numbness in my left eye. Some mild numbness near my ear and cheek. It automatically creeps to stroke.

My health is very good. I have next to no markers FOR stroke and always suffer tight neck, shoulder and back muscles. I get Twitches with stress and my water and diet have faultered this week. I had a pinched nerve in my back that had a mild numbing in my face and arm. I’ve irritated it and that could also be a source as I feel the tension and strain in the same spot. If I stretch it and isolate the area….twitch and numbness. All signs point…..

Many OTHER reasons to engage that are NOT stroke related…but…to me, stroke is on my radar and that’s it and I’m anxious.

My spouse has finally found s job after months of trying! You would think a huge weight was lifted but until the work weeks get going and I hear its enjoyable or at least tolerable, I worry. It’s in leasing which is a no mercy field so again, until we establish that closing ratios are not a big push, I worry.

Leasing gives you maybe 6 months to survive if you are not a seller. My spouse is NOT a seller.

So, I hope this is a place that shares the closings so my spouse will still be employed years from now….

I have started seeking solid leads to employment out of my department but within my company. I have an app out right now for another position. If I am not chosen, at least the execs know I’m looking and maybe that will spur a positive change for me.

I was exposed to the Senior Director (whom I’ve known for years but until we mini bonded over issues with the director or some concerns about the company, she didn’t have a very favorable reaction to me, which I am sure was by design of the director), working with her was fun. I was also with the Senior Directors sibling who actually hired me years ago. She hated me (still can). The Director was there, my boss (who follows after the director like a mean girl fan club) and my co-workers.

I dreaded it all last week. It actually was good for me.

I had one incident where my boss was deliberately being an asshole to me in front of everyone but I’m trying to blow that off as her trying to impress the Director.

The Director was awkward but not over the top as she has been. She bum rushed me yesterday to pay me for boot camp. So weird since she tells people how terrible I am…

Anyway, it was enjoyable and good in that we were all exposed to each other so maybe the myth of me being what the Director has told everyone can be torn down.

So, its time to start my day. I’m supposed go be off but have to go in to work. I promised my spouse the Farmers Market and immediately felt pressure because my spouse wants to make a plan for the day. I am still not on solid ground.

When I expressed that I wanted to do the market and needed to drop in to work but more than that felt like being pressured, I saw clear irritation. When I addressed it, I was told everything was fine. But, we spent the rest of the night pissy.

I can make a few plans now. But not an entire day. I fear ruining the day with an attack and having to come home.

I get that my spouse starts work Monday and I can see that shopping is what the true desire is but honestly? My spouse has SO MUCH shit that my bedroom looks like a wreck. We have one room I can’t use because clothes and crap is all over.

I used to keep things neat but there is so much, I gave up.

My spouse is like Pigpen from the Charley Brown strip. Messy, unorganized, verging on hoarder.

Sometimes I wonder how much money we’ve spent shopping for shit we don’t need. I also know my spouse is much warmer when we shop and is chilly when we don’t. I’m told that I’m imagining things, but I’ve tried it out. It’s true.

I don’t like shopping. There is too much extra in this house. If that were all gone, my spouse kept things tidy and we needed something then fine.

So, as anxious as we were to start the day yesterday, we are still asleep.

I wonder how spouse will do next week when we have to be up for work….