Anxious. Who Me?

12/1/2014

There’s nothing like a really bad anxiety attack to make you explode by surprise. The image I see is a raw egg getting cracked, hard, on top of your head and the runny yolk and raw white egg white oozing down your face. The texture alone is enough to make me gag.

I felt out of control and crazy, slimy and totally unprepared. It made me crash, physically, emotionally and mentally. “That will show you who you really are,” some growling, deep voice, inside me said threateningly. I can vouch for that. I’d swear on a Bible if you want me to. I know I’m anxious but in the midst of the strongest part, I am not aware of how sucked in, like a tornado, I really am.

Well, well, well, welcome back, you insidious monster with life sucking tentacles. You snuck in and took over my mind and body. Because I didn’t have heart palpitations I can’t label you a panic attack although to me, they are very close.

Honestly, I should say I haven’t felt you around for quite some time. A long time and never this severe. But, believe me, I recognized who you were the second you slipped into my body and mind when I was looking someplace else.

Sure, I knew you were there and i did everything in my power to get rid of you. I tried to fight you with all the strength I could muster, batting my arms and legs squarely at your stomach, as hard as I possible could. I tried accepting you too so I sat right down in my messy bed and started taking deep cleansing breaths. Nothing worked.

I tried to do meditative yoga exercises, that in class, always work. I tried music, music can always soothe me and the music that night, made me feel crazier. This was scary.  I felt out of control.

Finally, I took a Xanax, prescription approved, doctor-ordered medicine and waited for that to kick in but it never did. Now, between my fear of flying on a plane the next day and

my medicine not working, I was one big horrible out of control mess.

It’s not as if I was looking from afar at this crazy person either, I knew it was me, I knew what I was scared about which at that point was everything. A plane trip we were taking, a trip my daughter was taking later in the month, the fear of losing control, the fear of feeling crazy is crazy enough for me and that is where I was headed. I felt out of control and that is a very scary feeling. I couldn’t calm down or make myself feel peaceful.

It’s a scary world out there, I try to make sense out of it but I can’t, there are no rational explanations. Bad things happen, often, and I need to better adapt to the new way of life. The world won’t change, obviously, the only thing that can possibly change is me.

Given the last experience, I admit, I don’t have high hopes.

 

Are You Even Aware, Do You Care? (ChronicBabe Blog Carnival)

woman

Image by Alessandro Vannucci via Flickr

Dear Doctors,

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day is May 12, but I bet mostly people who suffer from this debilitating illness know that.  There are people, fellow doctors even, who still think this is all in our heads. That IS the most insulting thing of all. Do you think we would choose this way of life? On purpose? Do you think that we would want to feel pain in every muscle and joint in our bodies for the fun of it? Maybe we just want attention, is that what you think? Do you know that I was diagnosed with two chronic illnesses within a matter of months and that menopause was the catalyst? Did you know that it was menopause that turned my body inside out and sideways, plumped up my lower belly and shattered my metabolism?  Do you know I eat less than the average child but I don’t lose weight and walking around the block twice is considered a work out?

I am going tomorrow to my third Rheumatologist to see what he has to say. He’s local, convenient and since I have had such different points of view from previous doctors I’d like to add yet another opinion to my massively, confused, Fibro Fog memory. That is if I can remember what we talk about which is as likely to happen as Christmas in July. I will try though, I will write things down, I will do intensive listening. I want to hear what you have to say. I wonder if you realize that a Fibromyalgia patient making an appointment to see you is not simple at all? It isn’t, we have to get there too and that is always a work in progress.

Did you know I saw a famous Rheumatologist for years, only to find out later, that the strong, immunosuppressant medications he prescribed could have destroyed me? That the medications he prescribed for me in his fancy office with his “Best Doctor Awards” on his walls, are only supposed to be used to protect a vital, organ? I didn’t know that either until another Doctor, actually two, told me.

Awareness is not just acknowledging a disease or many diseases; it is also imperative to take the accompanying emotional distress that it brings too. It’s no longer just me, it’s me and my shadow. We bring baggage, physical and emotional because many of us have dealt with this elusive, enigma of a disease for many years. Please, bear with us.

Even if you mean the best, you might not want to say “I know how you feel” because unless you are a patient, you don’t.  You can’t walk in my aching shoes, the soles of my feet are rigid, hurt and are on fire, right to the top of my head that aches at times with horrendous headaches, pounding me like turbulent waves on stoic rocks.  Are you aware, Doctors, that when some of  you treat us chronic patients like drug seeking  heroin addicts you demean us? You take away any sense of self-respect that we once had in the past? We know you try to help us but please understand how we feel. We feel pain, we just want some relief, once in a while when we need it the most. Try and understand that, we’re not looking for a quick high or to be comatose on life-altering drugs. We just want to be able to breathe without pain for a short time, ONLY, when we need it the most.

I’ll leave you with one thought. We know you try to help make us feel better. Just remember a moment of compassion, a light hand on our shoulder, an extra second of your smile means a lot, especially when we feel we have so little. If your son or daughter had the same disease and our same symptoms, would you treat him or her any differently? If you have to think about it, please consider treating us, like you would them.

Thank you very much for your time.

The Awareness of Being

Stairs to Nowhere

Image by Rennett Stowe via Flickr

I am a chronic pain sufferer, and have been for the past four years. I consider myself lucky most of the time, comparing my pain threshold with those of my fellow sufferers. I know that pain-free is no longer an option, though I admit it took me some time to accept this.

I was on vacation last week with my family and we went to a small restaurant, up a flight of stairs. I gripped the hand rail on my right, yet I still couldn’t move. I reached my left arm to find the left hand rail and I tried to move. Nothing happened. This is how some people live all the time, this is a limitation, this is an awareness that made me think of other sufferers. People in wheel chairs, people with a disability, and less so, people like me. I remember that the steel handrails were cold, and I remember not being able to get up those stairs. Luckily, my husband gave me a push up and I made it up one uncomfortable step. It took a moment for me to get up another step and when I was finally up the six  steps, I was weary and tired, and every bone in my body hurt.

It was not attention I was seeking nor was it the awareness of myself feeling weak. I thought of other people who have much more pain than  have. I also felt bad for people who didn’t have a loving husband/partner to help them up from the rear. I understood, in those few minutes of time, what it felt like to be physically disabled but more aware of this disability for people who have to do this every time they think about taking a step.

I appreciated sitting down at the table though I felt a bit unsteady. I remembered to drink, a sweet refreshing fruit juice drink that lifted my spirits, and of course, my sugar intake.  I made it up those stairs all the while thinking of how I was going to get down. I had no choice in this situation, I knew I would have to do it and I did. I felt grateful for the awareness of my limitations in comparison to others. Those of us with chronic pain do not have a wheelchair to use for a clue to the outside world, or a cane to show others are limitations. We live in silent awareness and while we understand each other, it is hard for outsiders to understand. We are the invisible victims of pain, of suffering and only with communicating with other people, one by one will we get our message known.

Pain is pain, we all feel it, we all deal with it the best way we know how. In our hearts, we should acknowledge those with more pain, it doesn’t lessen our own pain, but it emphasizes our commitment for understanding and awareness and most importantly, our acceptance and empathy for others.