Late Monday night, after all the kids were asleep, I started to feel that weird combination of symptoms that heralds a panic attack. Chest tight, breathing shallow, hands shaking, heart racing. A quick scan of the medicine basket revealed no Ativan, no Klonopin, no Valium and two cigarettes.
This seemed like a good time to indulge in some medicinal tobacco. Praying to Jehovah, Jesus, Mary, and Allah (for good measure) that my kids would not wake up, I sneaked outside with the cigarette and a candle lighter the approximate length of my forearm. It took me four tries to light up. I couldn't draw breath enough to smoke it. I don't remember where I disposed of it. I don't even remember if I went out front or out back.
Next, I think I tried some deep breathing and meditating, to no avail. I'm crap at meditation. I then tried to distract myself on the Internet. Facebook, Twitter, my Google Reader, nothing held my attention.
I decided to drink a glass of Chardonnay and take a hot bath. I drank a little wine and threw it up while my bath was running. By the time I got out of the tub, I was in truly bad shape. I called my sister, Gigi, and asked her to come over. I vomited some more. I took my own blood pressure, 190/98, pulse 140. When Gigi got here, we decided together it was time to go to the emergency room.
I must have looked pretty bad, or they were afraid I was having a heart attack, or maybe it was a slow night for emergencies, but they took me directly back. First I had an EKG to rule out heart problems. Fairly shortly, I had an IV and 2 mg of Ativan in my system. I don't know how much later, but it couldn't have been long, we were on the way home. When we got there, the kids were all up and Gigi cooked breakfast.
I phoned and got an appointment with my regular doctor's office. I drove myself to my noon appointment. Without examining me very much at all, other than pulling off EKG electrodes I didn't realize I still wore, the doctor referred me for a psychological evaluation. I thought this was a bit much. I did not feel like one panic attack requiring an emergency room visit called for a psych eval, but, as the psychiatrist's office was just down the street, and psychological care is covered at 100% while Captain T is out of country, I went.
I was surprised that the first visit did not involve seeing a doctor. I filled out a bunch of paperwork and a couple of assessments, and a nurse told me they would call me with my next appointment time. I then drove home, picked up my children, and met Kim and Alexis at the park for a play date. After an hour or so, I drove back home. (I am chronicling all of this running around for a reason, and I hope you are not bored.)
I drove to Tapa's house for supper, then drove home. I spoke on the phone with Gigi, and she decided to come spend the night, just in case I needed her. (Allow me to interject here that my sister is beyond awesome.) I finally relaxed with another adult in the house, and I slept more consecutive hours than I have in years.
This morning, I tried to go about business as usual with our school day. It occurred to me late morning that I had not bathed since Sunday (unless you count my late Monday night bath, no soap involved.) I have never gone that long without washing. During my bath, I reflected on the craziness of the past few days. I had to admit to myself that showing up to a doctor's appointment unwashed, hair greasy, wearing no make-up or jewelry, with electrodes stuck to my skin, thirteen pounds lighter than at my last appointment seemed like probable grounds for a psych eval.
It also dawned on me during this time that I had gone 36 hours with no sleep, even after 2 mg of IV Ativan. I had driven over 100 miles, part of those with three kids in the van. I know what 2 mg of Ativan does to a person because I have worked in the health care field. It scared me that my body and mind were so wired up that I was not knocked out by the drug.
I have been doing some hard thinking today. I have got to let go of some of my fears somehow. I must stop walking around afraid of what will happen next. I have to figure out a way to relax my body and mind. There has to be a state of mind better than the one in which I currently live. I am going to keep my first appointment with that psychiatrist.