The day I landed in the hospital I had no idea I would be there. I woke up that morning and I knew I wasn’t feeling 100% but that wasn’t new. I had promised a friend I would help them take a load of garbage to the dump and I just couldn’t go back on my promise. After I dropped the kids off at school I began to feel woozy. I attributed it to not having eaten that morning so I stopped off at the local grocery store and bought some orange juice and nuts. Protein and a little pick me up. As I sat in the car my hands began to shake so I drank half of the orange juice and started in on the nuts. Immediately my mouth was like cotton and the food was like sawdust. Washing down the dry substance in my dry throat with the rest of the orange juice an alarm went off in my head. What was going on? This was not mynormal body behavior. I called my doctor to make an appointment and found out they couldn’t get me in until four o’clock that day. That was fine. I had a friend to move anyway. I drove over to her house and sat in the car feeling foggy, and the shaking seemed to worsen. As I got out of the car and walked into her house I just looked at her and said, “I don’t feel very good.” Immediately she sat me down on her steps and pointed out that I was shaking. I informed her that I had an appointment later to which she replied, “Oh hell no, you are going to the doctor now and I am driving.”
We got on the road and the trip down the hill was a quiet blur. I could feel myself descending down, down, down somewhere but I didn’t know where. My body was literally shutting down. Wisely my friend brought me to the main urgent care and as I made my way into the waiting room I leaned on the counter, looked the receptionist in the eye and said, “I can’t breathe really well and I have tightness in my chest and I think I’m going to pass out.” She ordered me to sit and a nurse brought a wheel chair out to take me back. As I lay on the bed I fell further and further down my hole. My blood pressure was sky high and I couldn’t stop shaking. I was shaking all over. My pulse was racing and my breathing was accelerated. I couldn’t stop from going down that scary road. Immediately my mind went to my husband and to my children. I couldn’t die now. I had too much to do. But whatever was happening to my body I had no control over and I surrendered to my weakness knowing there was nothing I could do to stop the decent.
A nurse took my vital signs every few minutes and I could tell she was relieved that my blood pressure was going down. A doctor came in and talked about the testing that needed to be done to rule out a pulmonary embolism. She informed me that if that was the problem I’d have to move to the ER and did I still want to stay at this facility. It would cost me extra money to move me. What? Was she crazy? I could barely move and I was still tumbling down the rabbit hole. I thought she was probably the craziest and least compassionate doctor I had ever met but I really didn’t care because at that moment I just might be dying. I told her no I wanted to stay so they started on all the testing.
First they had me give a urine sample to prove I wasn’t pregnant. As if I could be. I know there are laws but I have six adopted children to prove I wasn’t pregnant. So with monumental effort and help from my friend I slowly headed over to the bathroom to prove my point. When it came back negative I just smiled inside. Victory for me! Next they had me go downstairs for a chest x-ray. Yes. Downstairs. I shuffled out of my curtained room past the waiting room into the main entrance to an elevator where I shuffled to the receptionist in the x-ray room who then had me take a seat. I’m surprised I didn’t just pass out then and there. They called me back quickly and I stood and hung onto the machine with almost all of my body weight pulling me down while they took my chest pictures. Then it was back out of the x-ray room and into the elevator back through the main entrance and waiting room of the urgent care. When I made it to the hall to go back to my room I stopped abruptly and felt the whole world go black. My friend grabbed my arm and the nurse raced to my side with a wheelchair. As I sat down I thought, “My that wheel chair would have been nice for my recent hospital tour.”
Wheeling me back into my room I could not get out of my wheel chair. “Please, just let me sit here.” I said to the nurse. She complied and took my vitals while I sat slumped over. About ten minutes later I was feeling worse and asked for the nurse. I asked her to check me again so she did. The doctor came in and reassured me my vitals were ok. After that, because I had dropped another notch down my hole, I asked them to please help me lie on the examining table. Maybe lying down would help? I asked my friend to put on my worship music on my phone knowing that in the past during times of great distress, it helped me focus on my hope and not my problem.
After that my friend had to leave so a family member came to sit with me and as I lay on the table, still descending, I wondered again what was happening to me. By this time I could not move. It was like I was paralyzed and I could feel the heat rushing through my body. My face was flushed and the whole of me was tingly like it had fallen asleep and was just waking up. Like a foot you had sat funny on and was just coming back to life. It terrified me. Why couldn’t I move?
The doctor came back in and said that my lungs were clear and my vitals were normal. What? What do you mean my lungs are clear? I. Can’t. Breathe. She said they would do one more test. An EKG to check my heart but she was pretty sure she knew what was happening to me. I was having what was known as an anxiety attack. My mind raced as I processed that information. Anxiety attack? The doctor asked if this was my first one. Through clenched, chattering teeth while on the verge of hyperventilating I said that I had never had one before. It took every effort for me to speak. It was forced air through my mouth and as I answered her questions the heat in my body rose and the tingling intensified. Were there any big changes in my life? “Yes.” I told her. “We…just…moved…” Was it a good move? She asked. “Yes.” Now the tears slid out of eyes. “I’ve…had…a…few…hard…years. Family…stuff.” I said. Then I was done. I couldn’t say anything else I was so upset.
After the doctor left the room a compassionate young nurse came in to hook me up to check my heart. She was swift and silent. In the dark room my worship music washed over me, speaking hope in a very dark time. He was good. He was my hope. He was my light. The nurse thanked me for the music and how nice it was to come into my room. It was only a few minutes later that the doctor came in to tell me that absolutely everything was normal and this was most definitely an anxiety attack. I was not going to die. I could feel my body begin to relax and the heat started to flow out of my body. The tingling lessened and my breathing became more normal. The red stain that had crawled up my neck and illuminated my face began to fade. Her telling me that my vital signs were normal helped the attack begin to pass and as I lay on my side feeling limp, wiped out like I had just run a marathon, I stared at the wall and wondered what was next.