As the day went on, I started to notice a bit of a stuff nose, sore throat and a mild headache. No big deal, I popped some dayquil and I figured I'd be good to go. Hubby got done with work and I had a photo session scheduled so I got my stuff together and was getting ready to go when I started to feel extremely fatigued. But, I left anyway. I had only been in the car for about 20 minutes when I pulled over with a strong feeling that I should call my client and reschedule with them. I sat there for about 5 minutes battling with myself. I ignored my instincts and decided it would be too unprofessional to cancel a shoot an hour before it was scheduled. So I pressed on. Traffic was heavy and as I was sitting in it, I started to feel more sick, nauseous and extremely tired.
I met up with my clients at 5:00, I was done shooting at 6:15 and got in my car to go home. Again, traffic was terrible and I was feeling even more sick. Once I got on the freeway, I kept looking for places to pull over and throw up. I never actually pulled over though, because I kept telling myself I could make it home. I was 30 minutes from my house when my entire body started to go numb. My hands and feet got tense and I could hardly move. The lower half of my face went numb to the point that I could barely talk. I pulled over and called my husband to come and get me. As I was waiting for him in the McDonalds parking lot, practically paralyzed, I started hyperventilating.
It all went down hill from there.
We got home, my husband had to basically carry me to the bathroom so I could throw up. I vomited probably 4 times in the next 20 minutes and it was at this point that I realized that something was seriously wrong. I couldn't walk, talk, or move my arms or hands. All of the muscles in my body were so tense that I couldn't control the spasming that was going on. No matter how hard I tried to relax and calm down my breathing, I just couldn't. So... 9:30pm I ended up in the Emergency room. This will sound dramatic, but I felt like I was going to die.
The nurses basically had to sedate me and give me muscle relaxers so that I could rest. They ran a series of tests. An EKG, they tested for enfluenza, Mono, and strep throat. All came back negative... which was strange because we couldn't find a cause for the high fever (103 degrees) and vomiting. Diagnoses? I had a panic attack.
A panic attack?? ME?? I always hear about these things happening to people, but I never thought I'd be one of them. The doctor warned me to keep my stress levels low and take it easy. She prescribed oxicodone (for muscle aches) and xanax (for anxiety). Wait. Did I really get prescribed anti-anxiety medication?? Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I really don't consider myself to be a person with a lot of anxiety. Let alone have a panic attack while driving on the freeway!
Needless to say, it was the most terrifying experience of my life. Having something happen to me, and feel virtually helpless and out of control. I don't know if this will ever happen to me again, I can only hope that if it does, I will recognize the symptoms and be able to calm myself down.
Lessons learned: Listen to my body. My body was shutting down and was screaming at me to stop go to sleep, or at least take it easy. But I ignored it and went to work anyway. I truly feel when I stopped to contemplate canceling my session, it was a prompting from God, that I just blatantly ignored. :-(
And also? I am a Mom of two little kids, and I own and run my own business. That's pretty normal, but really?? It's a lot of work. Any other Mama's out there can surely attest to how stressful it is to be a Mother sometimes, it's probably the hardest job in the entire world. And to those out there that are business owners, I think that most times we try to stay busy, it makes us feel accomplished. But in reality, our minds & bodies need a breather. And we need to listen to them.
Another thing I learned? Panic attacks aren't always a result of something major. Often times, there is no one thing that triggers it. It could be an accumulation of small things, or even just a result of too much physical activity or too little sleep. And in most cases, they come on suddenly with very little warning.
I hope that from my experience, it can be a lesson to us all. We are not superwomen. Our bodies and our minds are fragile and we need to take care of them.
I'm feeling better now, I was released from the hospital early this morning and have been taking it real easy. My plan is to just pace myself a little better, in hope of avoiding something like this ever happening again!