Well, that was scary…

Today, for the first time in my life, I experienced something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy… a full-blown panic attack. After hearing how excruciatingly awful adult tonsillectomies are, I expected pain… sore throat, headache, earache.  I’ve taken all the precautions possible to avoid this — eating crushed ice, drinking fluids constantly, sleeping upright, chewing gum, and never missing a dose of pain medication.  So far so good, as I really haven’t been in terrible pain. Sure, my throat hurts, really bad even, but that’s not unusual. I mean, I’ve had strep and tonsillitis off and on for years now!

But something happened to me today that really set me back. I was sitting on the couch watching T.V. and it seemed like my throat felt different. It felt kind of swollen, and as you know, that sensation really freaks me out. I tried chewing on ice, putting ice packs on my neck, getting up and walking around, lying very still, watching T.V., closing my eyes, drinking water, etc. Basically, I was trying everything to get this sensation to go away, but it wouldn’t. I started having the beginnings of a panic attack, and I knew I needed to get this under control and quick. I looked at my throat in the mirror. Everything looks fine, nothing is swollen. I breathed deeply through both my nose and mouth. No problems breathing at all. Nonetheless, it felt like the very back of the roof of my mouth was touching my tongue, basically like things were closing up, and I could feel the panic setting in.

At 12:30, I looked at the clock and realized that it had only been two hours since my last dose of pain medication, so I couldn’t take anymore. Even though I wasn’t experiencing pain, I wasn’t sure what else I could do to make the feeling go away. When I realized that, full blown panic set in. I felt like I was going to die. I *almost* called 9-1-1. Instead, I called my parents and told them to come over immediately. My mom said she was going to bring a Xanax. Next, I called my doctor’s office. When I told the nurse I was having a panic attack, he got my doctor on the phone right away. My doctor assured me that I was going to be just fine. Obviously I was breathing perfectly well. He said the swelling in my throat is just disconcerting but that I was in absolutely no danger. He asked if I had any Valium, and I told him my mom was bringing me a Xanax, which he said was great.

Just talking to my doctor and having him reassure me that I was not in danger really helped. But the Xanax definitely helped, too. Within about ten minutes of taking it, I felt myself relax, then I took a two hour nap. I’ve hardly had two consecutive hours of sleep since Friday, so that felt nice.

I’m afraid I might get another panic attack, but now I have a nice bottle of Xanax, just in case.

Have you ever had a panic attack? What did you do about it?

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12 Responses to Well, that was scary…

  1. Hannah says:

    I have to say it again – you poor thing! I really hope things start easing up for you soon. *hugs* I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a full-blown panic attack but I’ve definitely had times where everything feels out of control, and I remember once curling up in a ball in the laundry and not… getting up. I’ve always thought of it more as anxiety issues than panic, but maybe they’re closer than I thought?

    • merf says:

      Sounds pretty similar, but what I had yesterday, I thought I was going to die. I wanted to call an ambulance and get to a hospital except there was this small voice saying “you’re obviously not dying, since you can breathe just fine!”

  2. Never had a panic attack per se, but over the last 6 months, work has caused me severe anxiety. They say St. John’s Wort helps, but I’ve never taken it.
    When I had to eat liquids, I enjoyed eating pudding via a straw! Get well 🙂

  3. planning my wedding = 2 panic attacks per day
    getting through college = 1-2 with every paper, test, and project

    now? I think I get them once in a blue moon? though I think having kids will bring them back hardcore. oh no!!!

    Glad you have that comforting little bottle juuuust in case =)

  4. Grace says:

    Panic attacks are the worst! Hope you are feeling better and don’t have another=)

  5. Scary! I’ve never had a panick attack before but it sounds intense. I hope you are feeling much, much better soon!

  6. I’ve had panic attacks a few times – when I had a salivary gland infection and my throat swelled so much (what happened within seconds, after taking a bite of food) that it felt like my throat was going to close completely. I also had a few when my therapist tried to do relaxation practices with me (haha), every time shortly before bringing the voices in my mind to silence. Another thing I remember was when I tried to eat *everything* again with food plans and everything perfectly organized, and felt like crap all day for weeks, and after a few day it started that I couldn’t breathe anymore which got so bad that I almost couldn’t breathe at all and couldn’t walk or even move because everything was so straining (because I couldn’t breathe), and I ended up seeing a cardiologist because I thought something was wrong with my heart … But he found nothing, of course. My therapist later suggested that I’d been at the edge of a panic attack for several weeks straight. I was completely exhausted and threw the icky food plans away afterwards.

    So yeah, I know the feeling – it’s everything but great. Mostly, it all seems to trigger each other and spirals you into an attack. And unfortunately, I can’t tell you what to do. I always end up hyperventilating, but when I think I pass out I don’t and just keel over, and after some time it gets better, but I’m totally exhausted then. I think it’s good to lie down and maybe have somebody to stay with you and calm you – hold you hand, things like that.

  7. Allison says:

    Omg how scary….glad you are ok now. I used to get panic attacks quite often when i was younger. I grew out of them but I feel your pain!

  8. That’s so scary! I hope you feel better. I had a panic attack once when I was 12 and it was horrible. I’ve definitely had some ‘moments’ since then, but not a full blown attack since then, thank goodness.

  9. Annalivia says:

    Oh, man, why was I not the first person you called? I am your not-so-local-anymore expert! During the last three years I was clocking 8-10 of them a day on average. There was nothing I could do to stop them or control them (except, as it turns out, to remove the source of the stress). Xanax helped until I could take the actions required to remove the sources of stress. It’s perfectly amazing what turning my life inside out did for my health.

    I think you did the right thing. Looking for help, taking the meds – theyre important! and talking to people are all you can do. Im so sorry you experienced that 😦

  10. Pingback: Can It Really Be Over? | Merf In Progress

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