Saturday, September 18, 2010

And while we're on the subject of not having any fun....

Early Friday morning I had a panic attack. Full on, pain in the chest, cold sweat, dizzy spell, am I having a heart attack, am I about to die, what the hell panic attack.

I’ve only had this once before, several years ago. It was many months after my accident. I had recovered well enough, but woke up in the middle of the night having some chest pains. Being over 40 and it being late at night…the mind goes to ridiculous thoughts…and all I had to do was entertain the notion of a heart attack to scare the becrappus out of myself.

It’s not that hard to do…the fact is that the symptoms of a panic attack are pretty much exactly the same as a heart attack.

“Dumbass, why didn’t you call 911?!!!” I hear you shout.

Well, that is what I did 6 years ago…got the whole treatment, ambulance oxygen…the works. By the time the EMT guys got there though I was feeling better if idiotic. But they insisted I go to the hospital and check things out.

I ended up being there for 3 days. It took them 3 days to tell me that I was fine, my cholesterol was a little high but my heart was in great shape and there were no signs of a heart attack. The pains were symptomatic of some of my injuries and that I’d fallen into a midlife panic attack. SO there. Fortunately I had a very good health plan at the time and my copay was small.

Jump to the present. Much of the process is exactly the same, except this time I have no insurance…and while I was talking myself down from the panic and semi successfully convincing myself I was not suffering from heart failure (despite Google’s insistence that I might be) I also reminded myself that if I was hospitalized, there was no way on this green earth that I was going to be able to pay for a fucking thing…OOOHHHH boy…More debt.

This did not help the panic. I couldn't bring myself to call. Stupid? Probably. But since I'm sitting here writing this almost 24 hours later, I feel it was the right way to go. So I did some slow yogic breathing, did my best to go to my happy place, and closed my eyes.

Eventually I sat upright in the kitchen and slowly drank a glass of water I’d left on the table before bed. I held my iPhone in my hand, ready to dial. But I started to feel fine and eventually I went back to bed and lay there awhile and stared at my phone. I chest stopped hurting, I fell back asleep for a few hours and woke up feeling normal.

In the morning I remembered something else. I'm also hypoglycemic. I sometimes have to watch how I eat and how often I eat. If I over do the carbs and under do the protein I can end up having similar episodes. This has happened to me once or twice, but so rarely that I forget about it. And by rarely I mean 3 times in 25 years. Pretty much all I'd eaten yesterday was 2 mugs of coffee and a big plate of spaghetti with two meatballs.


It’s annoying that the kind of ailment I sometimes suffer from ends up being so similar to a heart attack. As I approach 50 this has to be a reality I face, even though heart attacks don’t run in my family at all. Seriously, the only member of either side of my family that didn’t die at a very old age of some form of cancer or another was my great grandfather. And that was a brain hemorrhage. Oh wait, my grandmother…but she was 86, diabetic, massively overweight and drank Jim Beam like a fish. OH and the heart attack happened while climbing 4 flights of stairs. She was also, God love her, batshit crazy.

Still, the bottom line is that I have to be more conscious.

Yeah, I’m nervous as hell, I was actually going from store to store filling out applications in supermarkets like a high school kid yesterday. And yeah, I had visions of myself as a 4 year old man bagging groceries for a living. Hey if I get hired I will suck it up and do it. I can handle that, but it’s a lie to say that it’s not a depressing thought.

This isn’t exactly what I had in mind for myself.

Anyway I’m above ground is a good one. I’ve used that phrase to remain positive for a couple of decades. It’s been helpful and funny to say it with a smile.

But maybe it’s time I raised my standards…I need to find something to inspire me.

1 comment:

Major Bedhead said...

Is there some sort of free clinic you could go to to get a scrip for Xanax? The generic version of it is not that expensive - I think most major drug stores sell it for $9. Even if you don't get them very often, the fact that you're so concious of them now and worried about your lack of health insurance might precipitate another one.