The weather here in Southeastern Virginia has been absolutely gorgeous. Highs in the 70s, light autumn breezes, bright sun shining from the clear blue sky. Perfect weather to have all the windows open, to consider cooking and baking, to nap in the breezes.
Instead, I went and had a panic attack yesterday. It was my very first, full on, thought-I-was-going-to-die panic attack. I was nauseated (word to the wise: nauseous means you’re full of vomit; nauseated means you feel like you’re going to vomit. just sayin’), I couldn’t get a full breath in, I felt my heart racing, I was burning hot, my temperature registered at 96F (about 35.6C, or possibly lower, since I didn’t shake the thermometer down below the 96 mark), I was trembling all over, and I felt too weak to move my body. At 6:30 pm, I put myself to bed, called poor maplestar, and told him things like who has keys to the house and where my living will paperwork is. Yeah, I was that scared. If by scared, you’re thinking absotively posilutely terrified that this was my last night on earth. As a measure of this fear, I locked only the doorknob lock, and not the deadbolt lock, and I didn’t set the alarm system before I put myself to bed. I thought I was freakin toast.
Thanks be to God, I wasn’t. (Obviously, or you wouldn’t be reading this.)
I know what triggered it. It was a combination of events that led to me feeling completely, one-hundred-percent abandoned. Yes, I knew I could count on maplestar, and I do count on him heavily, but he is seven hundred miles away. Yesterday, I needed a real live person, with the skin on. Someone to sit with me, to talk with me, to help bring me out of the pain and the misery, to help me find some of the resources I need. I know that there are people in town who will come to your house to cut your hair, but I don’t know how to find them in the yellow pages. I know that there are other resources available, but I don’t know how to find them. I could really use a case manager to help me navigate the system, but I don’t even know how to do that!
So I was alone at home, and it felt like I’d acutely injured my left hip – as opposed to a flare-up of chronic pain, and yes, I can tell the difference – so that sitting made it worse, standing was okay for about five minutes but then made it worse, and the only thing I could to not make it worse was to lie on my right side. Of course, that didn’t make it any better, just kept it from getting worse. I put in a call to the orthopedist’s after-hours number and left a message. I tried to call a friend from church but just got voice mail, so I sent her an email in which I wasn’t quite specific or assertive enough. She responded in a very sweet or thoughtful way, and told me how crazy-busy her day was, but that I was in her prayers. Well, at that point, I didn’t want any gorram rutting prayers, I wanted a person. Then the doctor called back, listened to a very quick synopsis of my general condition and my current symptoms, and said that it was clearly a lower-back issue causing this. When I told him that I know that all of my cervical and thoracic vertebrae have unstable facet joints, I could pretty much hear him nod as he said, “Given that and your Ehlers-Danlos, it’s probable that your lumbar vertebrae are unstable, too.”
He suggested taking OTC ibuprofen. I laughed – most likely with a bitter edge – and said that right now I’m taking darvocet, lodine, skelaxin, and flexeril. After making sure I don’t take the skelaxin and flexeril at the same time, he laughed (not so bitterly) and said, “Well, it certainly sounds like you’re prepared!” He recommended rest, and alternating ice and heat. (Yawn – now tell me something I don’t already know!) And of course, “If it gets terrible, you can go to the ER.” Um, yeah. Since I can’t even SIT UP, that’s remotely possible! Not to mention that I’d have to get the pain management doctor’s permission to take any meds I was given at the ER, since I’m under a narcotics contract for her protection! He did invite me to call the office Monday and ask for an emergency appointment. But until then, I was stuck. At home, alone. In more pain than I can remember since childbirth. Without knowing how I’m getting to the doctor and the physical therapist for the next few weeks, since it’s awfully hard to drive with a boot on my right foot. With my parents a few hundred miles away at a Celtic festival, selling their jewelry. Without the friend from church who I’d really wanted to sit with. With maplestar seven hundred miles away, trying to figure out how to help me.
So: panic attack. Thankfully, I got myself into bed, and despite my worst fears, I managed to give hints to my beloved maplestar that I was indeed planning to talk with him again. I slept for a couple hours, then woke feeling much more like myself again. I got up, called maplestar again, ate a little bit, took my bedtime meds, and went back to bed. I did have some terrible nightmares this morning, probably after most of the meds had worn off, but I slept until almost 7 (which is not bad for me) and lazed in bed until just after 9. Little TomToms actually came up onto the bed with me, sniffed my fingers, and consented to be petted. After a few minutes, he was curled up on my lap, purring madly. He even fell asleep there for a moment. It was wonderful, and the sad part is, this means he’s ready to go to his forever home. I’ll miss the sweet little boy, even if he was very malodorously and frequently flatulent in the half-hour or so he allowed me to snuggle with him.
This weekend, I took a $250+ trip to the supermarket; made an enormous batch of marinara sauce, which has been portioned out and frozen; made an enormous batch of cream of potato soup, which has also been portioned out and frozen; sectioned some grapefruits and stored them with splenda in the refrigerator for snacks; washed several pounds of grapes for munching; and mixed up a ginormous salad in a produce saver. The idea is to have on hand, and ready to eat in a short time, some of the things I like to make for myself. I’ve already enjoyed two salads, a bowl of ravioli with marinara sauce, and TWO big bowls of potato soup topped with cheddar and bacon and green onions. Mmmmm! Now to see if I (a) remember I have this stuff, and (b) actually warm it up and eat it.
While I was panicking last night, I asked maplestar to email my ride to church and our Christian Ed director to let them know that with the hip all wonky, I wouldn’t be able to make it to church this morning. I mean, it hardly seems appropriate to lead a discussion group while reclining on one’s right side. So after I got out of bed and tended to the kittehs and the birdehs, I had a fruit cup and then sang some hymns at the piano. It was really nice, and it got me motivated to move on with my day. I regret missing church, but it was a good, healing morning. Now, I’m enjoying the cooler evening breezes through the windows, and thinking about some of that leftover ravioli – perhaps topped with mozzerella and baked? and with some garlic bread, too? – for supper.
I know I am not alone. I know I have not been abandoned. I know that I am loved and wanted and blessed. I’m glad I’m still alive. And I’m glad (and so lucky!) that maplestar loves me.
May you be blessed tonight with the knowledge that you, too, are loved and wanted and blessed. May you find deep joy and gladness in your the fact that you are alive. And may you know that whatever may happen, you will never ever be abandoned.