We were sitting at the dinner table eating a wonderful cake that my mom's friend made and all of a sudden I felt a rush of heat go up my left arm, my head got fuzzy, my heart started racing, and it just built and built until my whole body was shaking out of control. I tried laying back in a chair. I felt that was going to kill me. I tried calming myself thinking happy thoughts but I panicked. What was happening to me???
I ended up going to the ER via ambulance and they said anaphylactic shock due to the dairy my mom found out was in the cake. It was a dairy bomb but this made no sense to me but we then became overly careful about what I ate.
Once back home my doctor scheduled an appoitment with the allergist to see what was up. He didn't think it was a dairy allergy (me either) and I told him he wouldn't be able to figure it out. He was being kinda snotty with me so I returned it with a challenge. They started the allergy test for essentially everything and left me laying in the room. I was lounging on my belly playing Hay Day and then it happened....the EXACT same rush of feelings I felt visiting my mom after eating the dairy bomb cake.
I got myself to the door and calmly told the nurse I needed help and everyone came in and guess what....they had NO idea what was happening. No allergic reaction. No anaphylactic shock. The best the allergist could come up with was I was having some sort of adrenaline response and jokingly said no more cake or allergy tests for me. I went home feeling a bit shook up...and annoyed.
The next morning I headed out with my daughter to do chores and was almost down the hill driving when it hit me again. I didn't like this. I was driving! I pulled over and tried to reach dear hubby and no luck. I ended up calling for help and was brought to the ER. This time the "episode" lasted longer and rolled in and out like waves. They ran tests. Looked at me and confirmed some sort of adrenaline response. Dear hubby (we finally got a hold of him) asked if it was "only" panic attacks and I should just chill. Thank goodness the doctor stressed that panic attacks are not just a weak mind but could have underlying issues and never should be taken lightly. So panic attacks.....my episodes had a name and I didn't like it. After all, how is cake, laying quietly, and later, running a source of panic?
I asked my doctor this at my last physical and she was amazing. Panic attacks often happen when we are at peace and can happen when we are sleeping. Yep, been there, done that. I am not sure she or anyone really knows the why but essentially, those impacted need to learn to cope and please don't tell me just relax. It isn't that easy.
Over the years I have found a few things that do help when an attack hits.
- I do repeatedly tell myself I am going to be okay. I have learned from past experience that my body will come out of this okay.
- I pray and ask God for His strength.
- I fan myself with my hand BUT if I have air blowing on me (such as in the car) I have to get that airflow off of me...immediately!!
- I try to calm my breathing.
- I repeat relax, relax, relax. Yes, I can tell myself to relax but don't you try to tell me that.
But what about PREVENTING attacks? I have a few things I feel help with that.
- I eat balanced meals throughout the day. The better my eating gets, the less frequent the attacks. I honestly feel my daily shakes (video link) are making a HUGE difference. Email me to learn more about them or if you want to give them a try. I have deluxe 6-day sampler packs available!
- I hardly drink alcohol any more. It also helps with my sleeping and better sleep may be helping keep attacks at bay.
- I keep an eye on my coffee (caffeine) intake as I have found too much during certain times of the month can intensify symptoms/attacks. To be honest, I do notice more symptoms during that premenstrual time and wonder if there is a hormonal element at play.
- I exercise daily.
- I stay hydrated.
There are other things I do and have read could help but don't know for certain as it is harder to test.
- Keep a thought journal.
- Daily gratitude and positive thinking.
- Talk to others about what you are feeling. I have a wonderful friend who I have called or texted more times than I want to admit about the fuzzy brain or other odd feelings I feel and she is great at reminding me that my worries are just that...worries...not reality. It helps.
But most importantly I want to say, keep a sense of humor and know that a panic attack doesn't make you weak. For so long I didn't want to tell anyone this was happening to me because I felt silly or ridiculous that my body can get all crazy and my mind so irrational over nothing but it isn't nothing. It is something. What causes the attacks may vary from person to person but there is something causing it. It isn't you. I have ideas of life events that may be playing into my anxiety and panic attacks and that does give me a good foundation of understanding that makes it a wee bit easier to remember to love myself in those moments I need it the most.
Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for peace and serenity.
Daily Bible Verse: Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. ~ Matthew 14:22-29