Sunday, May 15, 2011


This is the toughest entry I have tried to write in this blog so far.  So please be patient with me.

I am guessing it was twelve years ago although I can not be sure.  Things are too hazy to make any kind of a time line in those early days, especially the day.  I do not even remember what the date was or what day of the week it was on.  All I remember is that in ten short minutes my life changed forever.

I was at the office reading the news off of the internet as I always did.  Again I can't tell you what the news was that day.  It is as if most of the details are totally blacked out.  What I do remember is that suddenly I was unable to breathe.   I was gasping for air and none came into my lungs.  I felt my body starting to shake a little all over.  My hands were shaking, my legs were shaking and my head seemed to be drifting off away from the rest of me.

I became aware of my heart beating terribly fast.  I felt like it was going to bust out of my chest in a huge explosion of blood and tissue.  I was getting scared.  I sat for awhile and I tried to catch my breath.  I tried to start to breathe slowly in and out hoping it would calm things down but it wasn't working.  I placed my hands firmly on the desk and my feet I planted onto the floor.  I was going to force them to stop shaking but that wasn't working either.

I tried to bring my head back to my body by thinking and by trying to convince myself that this was nothing to worry about but again, it didn't work.  After ten minutes of my heart pounding in my chest and Not being able to breathe or to think I decided that this possibly could be a heart attack.  I made my way on shaky legs to my boss' office to tell him I felt like I needed to go to the doctor.  When he asked me what was wrong the only answer I had was that I didn't know.  He apparently saw the worry in my face and told me to go ahead after asking if I was okay to drive.

I drove over to the local clinic by my house and asked to see Dr.Munger.  Dr. Munger had been our family doctor since he had fixed a cut on Brett's head about ten years earlier when Brett was three or four by tying his hair in a knot to keep the wound closed.  We liked him and we trusted him.  Dr. Munger was not in the office that day and so I told the receptionist that I thought I was having a heart attack.  They took me to a room immediately and began running tests on me.  They took my blood pressure, which was high.  They checked my heart rate, whaich was also high.  Then they started asking me questions.  By this time I was falling into a fog.  I was having to search my brain for the answers.

What was I doing when I started feeling this way?  I don't know, wait maybe I do know, I think I was on the internet.  Have I ever felt this way before?  Not that I can remember, not at all.  They kept an eye on me and Dr. Buie cam in to administer a test with wires hooked up to my chest.  Even though I knew Dr. Buie fairly well, I was insistent on having Dr. Munger there with me.  Dr. Buie eventually calmed me down and did the test.  He promised me that Dr. Munger would receive all the information.  Actually I believe I made him promise several times that Dr. Munger would receive the results of any tests.

I am guessing it was about forty five minutes to an hour when I felt myself starting to get back to normal.  My heart rate started to slow, my breathing began to come back and my thinking started to process where I was and why I was there.  It took a little bit to realize why I was at the clinic but it eventually came back to me.

I was sitting in a room all by myself for what seemed the longest time.  It wasn't an ordinary contamination room but looked more like an extra room or small lounge that they had there.  I sat and tried to figure out what had happened to me that morning.  I ws trying to remember everything but there were a lot of holes in my recollection.  I did not remember driving to the clinic for example, yet I was there by myself so I must have.  My chest was a little sore and my throat was terribly dry as I sat there waiting and wondering if anyone even knew I was in that little room.

Finally the door opened and a tall lady stepped in and asked me how I was doing.  I explained the best I could how I was doing at the particular moment.  She opened a folder and asked me about Dr. Munger.  How long had he been my doctor and other questions along those lines.  I tiold her that I wanted to be sure Dr. Munger got whatever was going on with me and would receive the results of any tests that were taken.  She promised me that Dr. Munger would be completely filled in on what was going on.

She introduced herself as a Nurse Practitioner and then she looked at a chart from what I am guessing was an EKG test.  She said from the looks of my heart was fine and I had not suffered a heart attack.  She sat down in a chair in front of me with her hands clasped together on her knees.  She began talking about panic attacks and if I had ever heard of one.  I hadn't and she went on to do her best to explain what a panic attack is.  This was a difficult job for her because it is extremely difficult to explain a panic attack.  She then went on to say that stress was a factor in many panic attacks and wondered if I was under stress?  Of course I was under stress.  I was under stress constantly from my job.  I took that stress home a lot of times I think although I did not realize it at the time.

She then asked me if I had been depressed lately.  My definition of depressed was what most people think of when they say they are depressed.  Sure I guess so.  I feel down once in awhile but I get through it.  Then she started to explain clinical depression to me and how it tied into panic attacks a lot of the time.  Most times people with clinical depression do not realize it until something triggers it.  She wanted to know how I was feeling right now and I had to admit I was scared, lonely and feeling totally abandoned by everyone and everything.  She said that Dr. Munger would have to do more test but it was very likely that I could have a serious condition of depression that the panic attack triggered and brought out into the open.

It was at this point that I realized I was crying.  I never cry.  But I was crying and I did not know why..  I was trying to take all this information in and I don't think my brain was processing all of it.  We talked some more and I eneded up being at the clinic about four hours that day.  They set me up with an appointment with Dr. Munger and sent me home with orders to get rest and not to go back to work until after I had seen Dr. Munger.  It was a long two days before my appointment with Dr. Munger came.

He gave me a stress test and said things looked okay.  Then he sat me down and went over in detail what I could remember of the past few days, particularly the day of the panic attack.  He said we would work on getting this under control but it may take some time.  He gave me some pills with instructions and I took them home.

After a couple of weeks on the pills my head began to feel detached and I was foggy all the time.  It was not a good feeling but he said it was a side effect of the pills.  I didn't like it.  So we tried different pills that were supposed to keep anxiety and panic under control as well as pills for depression.  Each time I came away feeling none the better but like I was detached from the world.

Eventually we got a combination of pills that although still left my mind not quite quite sharp, I was able to deal with it and get work done.  The depression and anxiety stayed though.  Dr. Munger admitted to me that he may need help in taking care of this.  He suggested I see a therapist and that possibly we may get some new ideas on how to deal with this.  Possibly it would take therapy as well as medications to get this under control.

So I called my insurance company and they set me up an appointment with a therapist named Julie.  I was not comfortable with her at all at first but then I don't think I would have been comfortable with any therapist at the time.  I stuck with Julie and eventually she got me to talk about things and to start digging into the innermost thoughts of my mind.

And so the second part of my journey began in an effort to get better and to learn to deal with clinical depression and anxiety and panic and to be able to function in life.  More later.

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