It happened on a regular night, right after dinner. My hubs was still at work, and I had just gotten my son down for the night. All of a sudden I started to feel a little anxious, which is not completely abnormal for me, so I went about my nightly routine of washing bottles, straightening up, decluttering. But I started to feel strange and my arms went tingly and my legs felt unsteady. I felt a little lightheaded.
“Something’s not right,” I said to myself. I got this tight feeling in between my shoulder blades and it was pulling at my chest. My hands were sweating and my heart started to race — like out of my chest race!! I felt like I was going to pass out. It only took about five minutes to consume me, like a rush of something wrong, and I started to panic!
I sat down and tried for about five more minutes to talk myself out of this feeling. “I’m fine, you’re fine, calm down, deep breath”. Then I started thinking, “I am by myself with my kids. What if I am about to pass out? I can’t let that happen.” I called my best friend, luckily she lives right down the street, and I told her I did not feel right and could she come down quickly? Literally, I think she was at my house in 30 seconds.
When she got there I told her in more detail of what was going on. She told me to sit down and take some more deep breaths. It was getting worse. I could not make it stop! I had zero control! I could feel myself blacking out. She took my blood pressure, and it was high. My blood pressure is never high. In fact I am normally knocking on “do you have a pulse” kinda blood pressure. I told her I just didn’t feel okay and was afraid I was having a heart attack. She said I didn’t look right, so we called 911. It just felt like it was getting worse. The tingling, the numbness, and I could literally feel my heart trying to come out of my chest. “I am 36 and having a heart attack, this can’t be real!” PANIC….PANIC…PANIC! We called my husband, and he immediately started to head home in a panic as well. This was not my normal!!
I had horrible thoughts of not being okay going through my head. “Don’t pass out, don’t pass out! Please don’t let me die!” Rushes and surges of a tingling feeling kept coming over me! My peripheral vision was blurry. I was simultaneously FREAKING OUT and praying to please be okay. I felt like something is seriously wrong! “Nothing can happen to me. My kids…my husband…my kids…my family!” I just wanted the paramedics to get there and tell me I was okay and fix it.
When they did arrive, I still felt like I was going to pass out, but was fighting it off. I told them when they walked in actually…”I am going to pass out”. They started to ask me all these questions of how I was feeling, how did it start, all while putting those round sticky monitors on me. My mind was all over the place. I was worried about my autistic daughter getting out of the house with all the opening and shutting of the the door. We have to lock the door every time someone comes in because of the risk of her wandering off (read my blog “The Worst” for a little insight on that). So, I told the paramedics how I was feeling, and they just really kept me talking. And I slowly started to feel better. And one of the paramedics looked at the screen and said “there you go”. My pulse started to slow down. He looked at me and said “You are having a bad panic attack!” I asked for reassurance because it was a little hard to believe, “I am not having a heart attack?”, and they said “No ma’am, I don’t believe so,” My blood pressure and pulse rate continued to go down. The continued reassurance from them immediately started to make me feel better. I cannot express enough how awesome, understanding and sweet these rescue workers were! He told me that if I would have passed out, my body would have reset itself, and I would have been okay since it was panic and hyperventilating! And then I of course started crying. I am thinking “Great Shelley! Now you are crazy! Let’s just add that to the resume!” I apologized continuously for calling 911, and they of course told me I had done the right thing, but I was SOOO EMBARRASSED! And I still did not feel well! A little like I had been hit by a freight train, but the panic, the fear and the physical symptoms had vastly subsided!
From the beginning of the panic attack to the end probably lasted an hour. I was POSITIVE I was having a heart attack. I was more scared for my health than I have ever been! But it was panic, with very real physical symptoms. I just was so upset, and could not find the understanding that my body and mind were not in my control. I repeated to the paramedics and everyone who had rushed to our house how sorry I was. I could not get over how stupid I felt at this point. Everyone kept telling me I did the right thing that I had nothing to be embarrassed about and to just relax. But that was easier said than done! “Ughh Shelley!” I said to myself. “Seriously? 911?”……(face palm)
I have never had a panic attack before this. And I absolutely had zero understanding of what an actual panic attack felt like or how severe the physical symptoms were. This was not just a little anxious feeling. And I can assure you, anxious doesn’t touch the feeling of a panic attack! I felt debilitated! I felt fear! I felt scared! And now, even with the embarrassing feeling, I know I did the right thing! And let me be clear, you are not a crazy person if you have experienced this same scare (more than several times). You are not in control when they happen, and you have to give yourself a break and try not to scold yourself too much for the times you seek out help when they happen. You did the right thing! You never know! You should especially never ignore those symptoms if you have never had them before!!
I followed up with my doctor. He did a stress test just to be sure of my heart health, and we discussed where to go from here.
I would like to say that was my last panic attack. I would like to say that because of the awareness, I have been able to shut them off completely. But I have had several since then. I am getting there and getting them at bay, but unfortunately it is not something you can just turn off and control. This is hard for my type “A” self. Not being in control, and having to wait it out, it is nerve wrecking in itself! I have to give my husband props here. He has been such a trooper and calming force for me! He knows me so well, and just sitting next to me for a few min (or 45 lol) really does help when I have had my panic attacks since then. Which I am happy to say are getting much better. Oh, and my massage chair, I have to give props to it too! No lie, we have had it for nine years, it has been folded in a closet, and I never knew how much I loved it until now!
Like I have said before in past blogs, I am an “everything is going to be just fine” kinda gal. I juggle all my stress in life and do my little pep talks, and they help, but sometimes your body disagrees with you. Stress can really harm your body. And we all have to learn, we have to take care of ourselves. I know we all “know” this, but you have to really do it! I am continuously having to MAKE myself work on me! We only get this one body, we only get this one chance to get it right. Life is precious, and we have to take the steps to be healthy and take care of our bodies, no matter how you chose to do so, in order to be able to enjoy, live and take care of our own loved ones. I had really lost sight of that.
Now don’t get me wrong! I haven’t turned into a complete health nut over night, but I am taking steps to be a better, healthier me! At a pace I know I can be successful at. It is soooo hard too!! I am not that person who wakes up ready to run 10 miles and be pumped about it! I want to eat like a frat guy pretty much all the time! I loved me some energy drinks (I have now not had one in a month….which is seriously like a Christmas miracle). And I like my “big girl glasses of wine” on the weekends. Sometimes on a Thursday too, whatever! But all my little vices, a little genetics and lack of paying attention to my body, lead me to a physical place I don’t want to be! Of course we need to let our hair down, but moderation and a healthy life style are key.
From now on, I will continue my baby steps, I will take better care of me, I will listen to my body, so that I can take better care of my loved ones! Because the more healthy I am, the better I am for them! I know how scary these are, and unfortunately I know that I can still have them while being healthy, but I can reduce them, and I can give myself reassurance that I am okay. I have literally been scared into trying to be healthier. But I can do this, I can feel better, I can punch stress and panic in the face. And ya know what, so can you!
Lots of Love,