featurebanner_labcoats_opedAMBER LOVE 01-FEB-2014 Most people know that I’m pretty vocal on social media, especially Twitter. The microblogging however is not always enough to express a fully formed thought or even not-formed thoughts that are sprayed in my mind like a thought-log going through a woodchipper. On those occasions, I take the extra time for typing out what I can in longer form.

I’m not asking for your advice.

This morning, at what I consider “stupid o’clock” for a Saturday, I went to see a family doctor finally regarding back pain because yet again, I torqued my spine and hips by barely doing anything. I was lifting cartons of milk and shelving a few cases of soda. Nothing extraordinary. Most babies weigh more. My skeletal system did not give a fuck and decided it needed to speak up. That same time, I had been testing a luxurious ergonomic chair at the office which was repo’d when the boss decided he wasn’t going to spend the money on it; this glorious $950 chair that I enjoyed for months was gone and I have spent days in a chair that does not fit my body nor my desk.

I brought my Kindle to the clinic and only had ATHENA VOLTAIRE open long enough to read the foreward. The nurse got me into the hallway for that god-fucking-awful moment of weighing myself which I did at home just the other day and was four pounds less than their scale. Apparently all home scales on Planet Earth are somehow further from the Moon than doctors’ scales. I’ve known this fact forever and each time it still bugs the hell out of me. By this point, I’m not only feeling panic but I’m pissed off.

I plopped my coat, scarf and bag on a second chair in the exam room and sat in the first. The smiling nurse took my pulse then blood pressure. I was talking non-stop like the blathering idiot I am. She said I was at 132 / 98. Every time I get my blood pressure taken it is higher than before. I was surprised there was no lecture this time because I usually get one. Doctors have wanted to put me on meds for this for over a year now and I refuse. I have my own reasons.

There might be different pills that work for different people but I am not at the point in my life where I give a fuck. My mother had hives for two years and I’m convinced it was from the combination of medications for her bp and cholesterol that were switched around a couple times. Two years of giant red welts all over her body. Bear in mind, I was expecting this blood pressure lecture going into this appointment for my back issues. I already have problems with hives that come out from stress and from allergies. I also have the joys of acne, cold sores and skin so dry I want to tear it off my body.

My brain did not care that I had a prepared defensive retort for the lecture that didn’t come. Being in the exam triggered panic. It always does. It has happened since I was probably 20-ish. When I meet a doctor for the first time I always explain that I am the worst patient ever and they shouldn’t take it personally. Most smile and think I’m kidding.

The tears started immediately when the nurse left the room. I’m not sure if it was a good thing that I had so much time to wait for the doctor; I could hear through the door perfectly and she had a real emergency where the other patient needed to get to the hospital. My back pain could wait. It gave me time to sit and panic more with what’s been called “White Coat Syndrome” and at least the tissues were in easy reach. But if she had gotten there sooner maybe I wouldn’t have time to cry at all. It didn’t really matter, I guess. I was fully triggered making the appointment two days ago.

I texted my mother because when I have no one else, I have her. But she didn’t even look at her phone until I had been back home for hours. I wrote: “My BP is so high 132/98. I should probably be dead.” I heard her footsteps coming up the stairs. She asked if they said anything about it and I explained that I was happy they did not. This is the point where she chimes in with her always accurate Dr. Mom diagnosis and says I “should probably do something about that.” Sorry, mom, no. My reply: “If I have a heart attack, I’m okay with that.” Because that’s the truth. I really don’t welcome one of those painful attacks you live through nor do I want to eliminate the entire rest of my diet since I’m almost completely vegan anyway and avoid foods because of allergies. I’d have nothing but rice and lettuce to eat. Thanks but no thanks. I do cardio 2-3 times a week. Is it enough? No. I don’t care. It’s the amount of time I’m willing to give right now. It’s nothing like my old regime of 30 minutes cardio and a 60-minute pilates class 5 times a week. But I had the time then and had the lifestyle which allowed for that. I don’t anymore. That’s gone. I’m fucking exhausted. I’m usually in bed by 8pm.

I was completely shocked when the gorgeous Russian doctor with cute Scottie dog socks actually prescribed me meds stronger than candy bullshit like Aleve which does nothing. I was given the proper warning not to drive after taking any of this. I got home and spent hours working on the Vodka O’Clock podcast files so I didn’t even take a pill until after noon.

Why on earth would I tell you all this?
For information and perspective. There’s a poignant meme that goes around from time to time and it says something about people fighting battles you can’t always see. No one could see me in there crying and sweating, reaching for tissues, worrying that if I touch anything I’ll catch the Norovirus or some shit. No one knew I was even there except for my parents and the staff that checked me in. That means unless I speak up and explain to you what it’s like to live with panic attacks, you might not know.

This is what my life is like.

I could be sitting at a desk at my job and merely by the fact that I know I have to pick up the phone and make an appointment is enough to set me off. Then more stress comes from worrying that someone will walk by at any minute and see me or spot me on a surveillance camera or see me in my car crying in traffic, all of which makes me want to die of embarrassment anyway.

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1 Comment on Today’s panic attack is brought to you by the letter “P”

  1. I wish you the best. The anxiety attacks are bastards – they give me back spasms.

    Thank you for posting this. Talking about anxiety/panic/stress attacks helps all of us.

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