Close Call to a Fall (Part 2)

Building the nerve to do Parkour

Our first day driving back to Spokane was very uneventful until Sheridan, Wyoming. As I came down into the city I could feel my steering wheel shake back and forth. Earlier in the week my “service due soon” light had come on, but we all know what that really means is to keep driving until you can’t drive anymore right? It had caused me some anxiety but I kept reassuring myself that all would be well and I would get my van serviced in Spokane.

Clearly that wasn’t the case so I found myself parked outside of a gas station in Wyoming searching for mechanics to call. Of course it was a Sunday and nothing was open so after getting a hold of my husband and being assured I could make it to Billings we finished our day with no more incidents. We made good time and easily checked into our cabin at the KOA on the Yellowstone River. I took the kids swimming (seriously we were the loudest) and we played mini golf (which was more like fight with your brothers and hit the golf ball across the campground as hard as you can golf) as our swimsuits and towels dried in the laundry room.

I knew the next day our trip would be delayed. I had planned on waking up at six o’clock, loading my kids and our stuff in the van and showing up at the Honda dealership in hopes that they had nothing better to do on a Monday morning than fix my van. However, I didn’t hear my alarm on my phone because the air conditioner in the cabin was so loud. I woke up after eight o’clock instead. It didn’t matter anyway. The first available appointment was at one o’clock that afternoon. So, I got up, packed up and made my way over to the dealership around ten o’clock. I figured I could find something to do around Billings while we waited.

The dealership took my van and I saw that less than a mile away was the Billings Zoo so the shuttle took us over to spend the day at the little but delightful attraction. It was a hot day but I had packed water bottles and as the kids scurried between bald eagles, tigers, chickens and koi fish we were making the best of our day. There wasn’t much available for lunch so I fed my kids processed zoo nacho’s, soda and ice cream and at two o’clock sat in the shade outside the zoo waiting for my shuttle ride. I waited. I waited some more. Then I waited some more. Where were they?

At this point I had no phone (it had died an hour earlier) so I scoped out the terrain and decided it was best that we walk. I could see the dealership from the zoo parking lot so off we went. Handing my pink and black backpack to my 13 year old I bent down so my 8 year old could jump on my back. He was done for the day and wasn’t going to make the walk. I felt fine. What’s another 40 pounds on my back in the hot August sun? So maybe we were stuck in Billings with a car repair and we were supposed to be home but that was life. So maybe a shuttle was supposed to pick us up and now I was walking on a highway with four children in the high heat of day. That was life. Sometimes you just have to do.

I tromped into the dealership with Zack on my back for a full effect and announced very sweetly that a shuttle would have been nice! I laughed and they got us water bottles, lollipops for the kids and coffee for me. A couple hours later we were done. The rotors were fixed and I was free to go on my way. They even did an oil change for no cost…probably because they left a mom and four boys stranded at the zoo to walk. I would take what I could get.

By the time we got out of there I was not going to drive all the way to Spokane. It would get me home at way too late, or early however you look at it. I felt great, like I could drive 8 hours but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I wouldn’t do very well once the sun went down. We headed to Wal-Mart about 10 miles away to stock up on Red Box and food but once we got there I could not find my wallet. I searched the car and my spirits sank. It was nowhere to be found. I had just paid the dealership. It had to be in my van. A little thought flitted about my mind warning me about this recent development of forgetfulness. I had noticed that I was starting to forget stuff as of late but I pushed the fleeting thought away and instead chastised myself for the loss. With no wallet there was no gas, no hotel, no Red Box, no nothing. I didn’t have time to analyze my fleeting and gently nagging thoughts.

We retraced our steps to the dealership and it wasn’t there. I stopped, took a deep breath, cleared my mind and thought again to the last time I had my wallet. I remembered pulling it out of my pink and black backpack to put it in my purse but it hadn’t made it to my purse. Then I remembered. Zack needed help in the way back seat to buckle. I climbed back by Zack and there it was in plain sight sitting next to my son. Hadn’t I searched the whole van? No, I hadn’t. I had gotten into frantic mode in the Wal-Mart parking lot and briefly skimmed a few areas. All this road time lost we headed back to the Wal-Mart and did our shopping. By this time Red Box had nothing to offer so I did what I had to do and bought some $5.00 dollar bin movies. Anything to survive.

Finally we got on the road to head to Missoula. My husband had made arrangements with a hotel in the city to take some of the burden off of me. We rolled into Missoula close to eleven o’clock that night and even though it was late I stuck my dirty and smelly boys in the shower. Why? Because I hadn’t done enough that day right? I finally lay down past midnight, read a chapter in my book to relax and fell fast asleep.

We got up around seven o’clock that morning and quickly loaded the van, ate the free breakfast and checked out within the hour to be on the road to go home. I felt great. I had clean boys, I had slept through the night and I was headed to buy a giant americano at City Brew Coffee to fuel me for the trip. We only had four hours to go and we would be home.

The drive was beautiful and before we knew it we were crossing the state line of Washington. We even stopped at the mall when we arrived in Spokane to pick up my son’s football cleats for his first practice that night. We were home before noon (ran through the car wash first though…my van was literally a bug) and everyone was glad. My boys made quick work of unloading the van and all was well in the world.

That week I hit the ground running. I had so much to do in my house! I needed to put stuff away, clean, go through stuff to sell at a garage sale, take my high school son to testing and pick him up, football practice, swim lessons, do the garage sale and go to a friend’s birthday party. I knew I should rest. I knew I should slow down. But I felt fine. I was doing all the things I was supposed to do, right? Everything except slow down. I heard warning bells go off. I shoved my own counsel away that dishes could wait. I ignored the voice that said lay down and breathe because I didn’t have time to lay down and breathe. I brushed off my husband’s concerns about my forgetfulness and I assured friends that I was fine. I had things to do and I was going to do those things.

By the time Friday evening had rolled around I had helped with a garage sale all that day and was headed with my husband across town to celebrate a friend’s birthday that night. We were quite late to the party because we had no babysitter until our son got home from work. I had downed a minimum of four cups of coffee earlier in the day and as I sat in the car heading to our final destination of the night I began to crash. It was a slow-motion crash but I could see it coming and in my mind I shouted, “Oh no!”

Opening the car windows I breathed in the night air and tried to have a conversation with my husband. My thoughts were disjointed and he gave me concerned looks when my answers weren’t making sense. I knew I was not my normal self. We made it to the party fine but I made a beeline for a chair where I could sit. Reclining and keeping as still as possible I practiced my deep breathing and motioned for my husband to please get me some water. I felt terrible that I had showed up at this party in the condition I was in. My friends were great and supportive but still I sat there putting all my energy into not tumbling far, far away.

There I sat for the next hour drinking glass after glass of water to hydrate and flush my body. I felt tingly all over (a major warning sign). As I sat on the cliff of my pit again I knew I could easily fall down my deep dark hole and this time it would be in front of a bunch of my friends. It alarmed me. I had been doing so well. I was doing what I was supposed to do, wasn’t I? No, I was doing more than what I should do. I had over done it physically. I had done too much and I had done it to myself. How easy to get disillusioned. Medication was helping but part of the reason I had been doing well was because I had changed my lifestyle. How foolish of me to think I could jump back into my self-made rat race and survive. I was clearly headed for a crash and I was doing everything in my power to avoid it, praying that I would not make impact. Grateful for my husband who kept bringing me water and silently praying I hoped the pit would not consume me once again.

After about an hour I was feeling better. Better enough to engage in more conversation and make sense. After we all said our goodbyes and we finally made it home I crawled into bed and slept hard that night. When I awoke in the morning I felt more like myself but remembered the warning to slow it down and I heeded. Canceling plans and rearranging my schedule my husband (and I agreed) put me on house arrest to recover. It was a few days before I felt like I was back to what was my “normal” now and I reflected on some of my boundaries I had let slip, or rather tore down and destroyed. Boundaries like how many activities in a day I would allow and how much sleep I was getting or how much caffeine I was ingesting. It was so easy to overdo it because I felt better but it didn’t take long to wildly careen back toward my deep dark pit. Its gaping jaws were looming in front of me and I was standing just far enough away to look in but not quite close enough to fall now that I had some tools in my tool belt to help me. Regardless, it was too close and I gladly turned back around and resolutely made my way forward and away from the fall. How fast it was to hurdle back to the darkness and how much slower it was to move away from it. But move away is what I did…and moving away is what I am still doing.

Close Call to a Fall (Part 1)

Vector silhouette of family.

Even if you are on medication, taking all of your supplements and eating right you still can run yourself in the wrong direction and end up on the verge of another panic attack. It’s true. I know. I just did this to myself and here is how it went down…

I’ve had a great summer. I’m a stay-at-home mom with six kids. We are an adoptive family and there is a lot of let’s say…energy in our home. With five boys and one girl it can at times, okay every day get a little crazy. Every day.

At the beginning of the summer I did very well pacing myself. I went to bed at a decent hour. I scheduled one thing a day. Mornings until lunch were at home time and afternoon was for swimming or the park. In July we took a road trip to Wisconsin (from Washington State) and my husband was along and did most of the driving. We saw family, hit water parks, visited national parks, camped in cabins and had a really great time.

When we got back I still paced myself fairly well. Now this is my opinion and family and friends may strongly disagree but for the most part I felt like I was balancing life and anxiety like a Kung Fu master. After all I was feeling fine right?

In August I took another road trip with my four youngest boy’s ages 8-13. It was a two day drive to Denver and it was just me this time. That meant I drove the whole way, I was solely responsible for the safety of my four children and the atmosphere in my van for two 8 hour driving days there and two 8 hour driving days back. Considering my situation I felt it went quite well. We arrived at my brother’s in good spirits. I had no sense of anxiety but of course I was tired. We had a wonderful time. I took my oldest school shopping, we went swimming, my brother took us boating and tubing and we watched a couple movies. I was honest with how I was feeling as far as my anxiety and we modified our days accordingly.

Toward the end of our stay we took a beautiful drive into Rocky Mountain National Park. The plan was to hike into a mountain lake so we parked, ate lunch (shoved in my van because it poured rain for 20 minutes) and headed up the trail. What I didn’t expect was for my 10 year old son to help amp me up, meaning trigger my anxiety.

Before we went on the hike I pre-medicated my son. He has asthma and it is well under control but before any exercise we always pre-medicate him because exercise can be a trigger for his asthma to flare up. He did okay for a little bit but after awhile I took a closer look at him and he was panting hard. We sat down and I accessed the situation. He said his breathing was fine but he wasn’t doing so good, meaning he was very tired. I hadn’t really factored in the elevation. A lot of people struggle in Denver with altitude sickness or just plain old fatigue. It’s just not the same air when you are up in the mountains.

This went on for the duration of the short hike. We would walk a ways and then have to stop to rest. The whole time I could feel my anxiety crawling through my body to take over my mind. Was I killing my son on this hike? Here we were in the remote mountains with no cell phone and no medical care close by. I didn’t have my husband around to help balance my thinking. My head knew that he wasn’t having any asthmatic symptoms. I’ve seen them many times so I know what they look like. My head knew he was just tired. He is a lover of art and video games…not nature.

It wasn’t far or even that steep to get to the lake. When we were about 5 minutes away we sat down and I said we were done. My son was fine. His breathing was fine. I on the other hand was not. My brother went on to see how far it was to get to our destination. My son rested and declared he could do the rest of the hike. He didn’t have any wheezing, he had no complaints about his breathing but he was just super tired. Really it was just the thin air. I kept telling myself he would be fine but anxiety kept hitting my mind with bad thoughts over and over like someone desperately trying to break down a door to get in. Finally we made it to the lake and my son took off to connect with his cousins and brothers and was laughing and playing in a tree and having a grand old time. I on the other hand stood and stared out at the mountain lake and wished for some kind of pill to make the craziness in my mind go away. I breathed deep and settled down. It was all going to be okay. It was already okay. It had been okay. I was okay. He was okay. It was okay.

After we had taken pictures and pretty much ruined any peace for other visitors with our children and their antics we headed back down the trail with no problems at all. My son never needed to stop and didn’t complain one time about being tired. We loaded up and drove back through the park, stopped in Estes for an amazing burger at Penelope’s, delicious homemade ice cream at a local candy shop and then purchased over priced taffy to end our fine day.

The next day was spent resting and packing up for my trip home. We went to a discount movie in the evening with all of us as a final “hurrah” in Denver. The next morning came too soon and finally it was time to depart. It’s never easy saying goodbye to the ones you love so with a see you later I set my eyes on the road and headed back home to Spokane. I headed back to what would later be what I refer to as my close call. My close call to going back down the pit. A place I swore I would never allow myself to go again.