Friday, February 26, 2010

Rough week

This week I had what I have now self-diagnosed as a truly HORRIBLE anxiety attack. It lasted full-force for over a day and I'm still feeling it (started on Tuesday). I want to write down what happened so if it ever happens again (I hope it won't), I will remember...

Tuesday about 1 pm, I had a very bad, unusual (never felt this before) shooting pain in my left arm completely out of the blue. Right after that I started to feel dizzy and nauseous...I actually thought I might pass out (which I have never done, by the way). Got up and walked to the bathroom and really felt like I might fall down/not make it back to my office. I started to feel breathless and tight in my chest. I seriously considered going to the doctor. Having had my dad drop dead of a heart attack while on a walk with my mom at 68 and no real diagnosed heart problems before that, I am totally a hypochondriac when it comes to my heart, so I powered through the afternoon and didn't go to the doc even though I was having chest discomfort and continuing arm/back discomfort. I went home after work and didn't go to yoga. Just laid down and rested and went to sleep early. When I got home, I took my BP and pulse on our machine and it was something like 125/73 (high for me) and 60 BPM (low for me).

Wednesday I woke up feeling a wee bit better (BP and pulse were normal), but by 10:30 I was feeling those feelings again: numb little finger on left hand, odd pains in my back, chest tightness and breathlessness, very dizzy and nauseous, etc. I had a lunch scheduled with a client and I decided I would go thinking that getting some air outside the office might help but I thought I would probably go see my doc after that. I barely made it through the lunch...felt completely out of my head, shaky, dizzy, breathless, weird pains, etc. By the time we got back to the office and I went to hug our client goodbye, I nearly fell over with dizzyness. This scared me and I went to call the doc...

I told the receptionist that I thought I was having a truly horrible panic attack and needed to come in. My doc is great so they said "how fast can you get here?". I was shaking so badly at this point that I could barely type (or think) as I sent something out before I left my office. My extremities were cold and all the dizziness/nausea/discomfort was worse...and head discomfort/pain had started. I seriously considered not driving myself to the doc (although he is very close to my office). But I drove...I was afraid I would feel foolish when this turned out to be "nothing".

When I got to Doc's office, I laid down in the examining room, still feeling horrible. Really really horrible. I seriously thought I was having a heart attack or stroke. Doc, of course, thought otherwise despite my symptoms (I am sure he knows that I am paranoid about heart stuff since he's been my doc for many many years). He said my arm stuff was because there is something out of whack in my neck...nerves or something. When he squeezed my shoulder/neck on that side in comparison with the other side, it REALLY hurt so I figure he is right. He said when numbness happens in your arm, it's usually a neck nerve.

OK, fine. What about my other symptoms? He said I had some kind of ear infection that had probably moved the tiny equilibrium bones in my ear around so I had a kind of vertigo. (I've had this before.) He suggested the Epley maneuvers (which I've done before) and Bonine (motion sickness med) when I got home. He has diagnosed me before with arthritis in my chest so that was what he thinks the chest stuff was...I'm guessing it was aggravated by my fear/stress over the arm pain/dizziness...I kept grabbing my chest too and pushing on heart felt like it was jumping out of my chest.

Doc did do an ECG and it was totally normal. Knowing all this, did I feel better? NO.

I have continued to have the symptoms (much less severe) until today. They seem to start up about the same time each morning and dissipate in the evening. I read on-line and ALL the symptoms I had are symptoms of anxiety attack. I am certain that is what happened. I think the arm pain scared me and set everything else in motion. It's terrifying. It's terrifying that I can lose it that much! I am still feeling kind of horrible.

My mother and sister have both had "panic attacks". I have never had one before. I hope I never do again. I do wish that Doc had acknowledged that I was having one. I will talk with him about it when I have my annual physical in a month or two...

We are leaving tonight for a three-day weekend skiing with Princess. I am excited although tired in advance will be an extra-long drive tonight...we will probably not get to our motel until midnight.

My weight is finally (post-weeklong-beer-vacation) getting back in the normal range (the range where I feel good, but still want to lose another 10 pounds). I looked at my records from last year and I am over 20 pounds less than I was last year at this time so that is good. I've been maintaining in this good range for over 6 months now. I think I am ready to lose again. But we'll see...I remember the thing that Vickie has on her blog about our plateaus being because our desire to change equals our desire not to. I'm thinking that my desire to change might be getting a little stronger...


Vickie said...

I live in a state of anxiety, but have only had one full blown 'attack' and I too thought I was having a heart attack.

Mine was over going in to have a brain scan (sent by my psychiatrist when I first started seeing him). I did not actually think they would find anything - but it sent me into a full attack.

I ended up at my mom's - maybe wearing nothing but a bath towel - to have her monitor my blood pressure - I was SURE I was having a heart attack.

I felt fragile and vulnerable and unsure of my body for DAYS too.

Do not under estimate how badly a bruised/swollen/whatever nerve/muscle impacts us.

If you have tightness - that really can throw the whole body off.

The left side of my body is slightly weaker than my right. In a hard workout (dance or free weights either one) I am often left with my left arm muscles feeling very sore.

And even though I can equate it to the workout - it is still freaky to have the LEFT arm hurt. People clutching their left arm in movies is just very ingrained in our subconscious I suspect.

It might be that you need more yoga, not less.

It might be that you need to lay on a yoga block or something else to get your chest/shoulder/arms MORE open.

It might be that there IS/WAS a physical thing that set the whole panic off. And you certainly don't want to Pavlov Dog Respond each time that area is tight. So it might be that you need to use a stability ball or stand on your head or something on a regular basis

We hunch a lot more than we realize through the course of a normal day.

Did you dad have ANY of the medical facts associated with heart problems - cholesterol, blood pressure - something that he HAD that you don't have - ? Something that you can chant to yourself and breathe through when you have these thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Ignoring chest pains and accompaying left arm problems is not a good idea, and I was worried that it took you until the second day to see the doctor.

I don't know anything about anxiety/panic attacks and it's clear that how terrifying they are when you're in the middle of one. It's possible the doctor didn't say that's what you had because you could then hang onto it and focus on an emotional cause and not a physical one, or the combo of things he described.

I hope the problems subside and you're able to enjoy your weekend skiing.

sharla said...

Could very well be everything your doctor said. BUT..
with your dads history, probably a good idea to have a stress treadmil test, cardiac enzymes and a visit with a cardiologist-just to rule that out and to also have a baseline for the future. It's rare, but possible to have a normal ekg at the start of a cardiac event.