14 September 2012

a terrifying experience & a lesson learned.

Thursday. It started out like any other day. Got the kids up, fed them breakfast, took them on a walk to the park.... pretty average day. I did feel a little more tired than usual, but I assumed that it was because Easton had been sick and up more during the night, so naturally I'd be a little more tired.

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!

28 comments:

Brooke Tollison said...

Wow! I am so glad you are okay! What a scary experience :/

Brooke said...

Wow! I am so glad you are okay! What a scary experience :/

Bea-OT said...

I'm so glad you're feeling better. Sometimes it's hard to notice when we're doing too much and need a break. I hope you let others take care of you for a little while; )

Amy Nielson said...

geeeeeze... this is so scary & could have ended so much worse! i'm so glad you were able to call Phillip & get him there to help you. This whole post kinda gives ME anxiety as I have my first session next week & have about one session per week after that...

Erin said...

Glad to hear you're feeling better. What a scary moment, I just can't imagine! Thinking of you; get some good rest girl!

Devon said...

Crazy, scary...but thank you for sharing so we all know the symptoms to look for!! Glad you're doing better!!

Tara said...

Mandy- that is so scary! Thank you for sharing your story. So true that us women try and do it all! Glad you are feeling better! And you take it easy!! :)

thepepperandherpups said...

I've experienced a panic attack before and it was definitely one of the most scariest that's ever happened to me. I'm so glad to hear that you're okay and taking things easy:)

jamie lincoln said...

I'm SO glad you're feeling better. I would just say maybe get it checked out by your regular doctor just in case. I know EVERYONE experiences different levels of anxiety attacks, but that seems pretty intense for a panic attack and it would probably be worth just seeking a second opinion. Just my 2 cents. But, great lessons learned and thanks for reminding all of us, too! I have suffered from panic and have gone to the ER as well. It's scary stuff. I hope you rest and are feeling back to better in no time! Easton, too!

tiffany franklin said...

Oh Gosh! I'm sorry you had to experience that. I never had one myself but have came pretty close because I have really bad stress over everything and severe ocd. I couldn't imagine especially with kids. I'm glad you feel better. Take time for yourself and slow down a little for yourself. It will be okay. Moms need breaks and breaks from life. Being healthy is the best way to go in the hand. Prayers!

Liz Denfeld said...

Wow, that is terrifying!!! I'm so glad you're okay. Thank you for sharing this experience with us - a reminder to listen to our bodies and not push ourselves too much & take care of ourselves. Feel better soon!

Lea said...

Oh, bless your heart, how freightening! Hoping that today brings renewed energy and calmness and that this will never happen to you again. Blessings my dear!

Courtney K said...

I'm so glad you are okay! And I'm glad that you posted it. Anxiety can get out of hand quick. Here's hoping you get some extra rest over the coming weeks and get a chance to take it easy!

Holly said...

That is terrifying! Thank God you are ok. It could have been so much worse, thankfully you pulled over. Hope you feel better quickly.

Shannon said...

Mandy so glad that you are okay! I can totally relate to the stress of being a mom (for me -two three small children...there are times just getting through the day is SO hard!) I'm glad that you are home safely with your adorable family and I hope you get some REST and lots of sleep! You are a wonderful person! So glad you are okay!!! So scary!!!

Zee Vera said...

I'm glad you're okay! That is such a scary thing to go through only to hear it's a panic attack... whaaat?! I get panic attacks because I have an anxiety disorder but I can't say that I've had any of those symptoms. I would be freaking the eff out big time!

I hope you get lots of time to relax!!

Tabi Deneweth said...

This brought tears to my eyes because I have absolutely been in your shoes. The feeling that you are about to die is so real, and like you my panic attacks usually came as the culmination of a bunch of little things.

I've been there, but I also really needed this reminder right about now. Thanks you for posting at the perfect time!

xo

Sarah [NurseLovesFarmer.com] said...

I'm glad you shared this with your readers, Mandy! I hope you feel better, but it certainly is hard to just listen to our bodies and take a rest. As a nurse...I'm astounded they prescribed you oxycodone for muscle aches! That's a heavy duty narcotic! I'd say take that with caution, but I totally think that the Xanax is warranted, if you feel those symptoms coming on. Feel better, girl!

brianne culley said...

I'm really glad you're talking/writing about this already. I had something similar (although not quite as severe) happen to me in college, and I just sort of brushed it aside and let is fester. Eventually it turned into full fledged panic disorder for which I still take anti-anxiety meds. I don't think that would have happened if I had taken charge of the situation early on. For me, it too was extreme stress that I was ignoring. Take care of yourself :)

Andrea Hastings said...

I am glad to hear you pulled through it ok, that is insanely terrifying! It's crazy to think they can come on so suddenly, but I agree that it was a good wake up call to listen to your body. I think a lot of moms ignore their body/instincts because we are used to doing so much!

Laurel Walker said...

I struggle with this, too. There is such a stigma attached to anxiety but the truth is that as we become busier and busier, sometimes our bodies aren't keeping up as well as our minds are. I feel what you're going through; it is so easy for the small things to add up if we aren't listening to our bodies.


I have a little advice, as another person on Xanax, and that's to be very cautious how much you use it but don't be afraid TO use it. I'm on the same bottle after a few months, just using as necessary.


Much love and support and positive thoughts headed your way!
www.theopinionatedgirl.com

Amber Gregory said...

Mandy, something similar happened to me in 2006. My husband had to call 911 and I ended up in the hospital with a heart rate of 200+ and IV Ativan. I thought I was going to die. My husband thought I was going to die. It was a panic attack. I won't tell you the rest of my story because I don't want to influence your brain into giving you the same aftermath ... but I WILL say that if you want to talk about it, if you're having trouble dealing in any way, its NOT a sign of weakness, and you can always talk to me -- I've been there. I can give you advice. And it DOES get better. <3 <3 <3

Manda Dieter said...

I actually didn't think of that until you said it. Panic Attacks can be very scary. I've had my own so I know. I deal with anxiety a lot. I did have an attack once before giving blood. I went really dizzy and passed out in the waiting room at the hospital. Xanex is great. It just makes you sleepy & dopey - so becareful when taking it. If you take it at night before you go to sleep it will help too. But obviously because your a mom and with little ones - make sure your hubs is there to help. Hope you feel better soon!

Kat said...

Holy smokes! How scary, not only to experience it in the first place, but to have it while driving. I'm so glad you had the mind set to pull over and have your husband come get you. I had no idea panic attacks could give a person a fever and make you vomit! Thanks for this great info and please do listen to your doctor and take it easy!

Angie said...

Oh my goodness, I am SO sorry you ad to go through that...what a terrifying experience. SO thankful you are okay and everything worked out. Definitely rest up and take it easy...you have a lot on your plate! You'll be in my thoughts and prayers! Hugs!

bethany said...

That sounds like my worst nightmare, other than something happening to my kids. I hope you take lots of time to take care of yourself (which is so hard to do as a mom, I know) and that it never happens to you again.

skye said...

Holy Crap !!! This is seriously super scary stuff! I always thought panic attacks were from something major - I got them when I used to manage manage a long time ago - and decided managing was not for me when I used to leave work and would hyperventilate - but it certainly never got to that level. Wow! I sure hope you are going to be ok and take it easy for now- wow!!!! Be safe.

melissa said...

I just stopped by to re-read this post today. I'm a new(ish) mom to an almost 18 month old and have been experiencing increased anxiety levels lately and today ended up in the ER with chest pains. I'd love to hear how you've handled things sine the incident and any tips. Thanks so much!