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It only took eight months, multiple drugs and a cadre of medical staff, but I finally got the endoscopy done.  If I’d done this last August, as I was originally scheduled to do, I would probably know the root cause of my anemia (and possibly of my anxiety as well) and be well on the way to recovery.  But, things being as they are, and me being terrified of sedation, I procrastinated.  The upside is I finally got through it, and I’m proud of that, regardless of the big fool I made of myself.  Sedation makes me uncharacteristically chatty, as many in the Nashville metro area are now well aware.  Sorry, Nashville! 

This is not new:  sometime in the early 90’s, I had an accident (a drunken romp on a playground at 4am) and dislocated my right arm.  In the ER, the nurse gave me an IV with Valium and something else; she said I’d be aware of what was going on, but I wouldn’t care.  I counted back from ten and was out at nine.  I awoke to a handsome doctor and expressed to him, quite eloquently I’m sure, that he was my hero.  I may have commented on his good looks, and may have made a pass at him, which I’m sure he appreciated.  Who doesn’t like being hit on by a drugged, hungover girl in her twenties still sporting last night’s clothes and make up? 

On Wednesday, I arrived early for my procedure but stalled as they were taking me into the operating room.  The anaesthetist was not only sweet and empathetic, he was really cute.  It took him and an entire group of staff to talk me into continuing; it also took several rounds of IV drugs.  

I have a very few flashes of what happened after that; I don’t recall talking to the doctor or leaving the building.  I don’t remember seeing the anaesthetist again, though I feel I may have.  I don’t remember going to the drugstore and telling the cashier all about my procedure.  The cashier saw me yesterday and recounted the whole thing for me.  It’s fun embarrassing to walk into a retail store and hear stories about what you did the day before! 

Lately, I’ve noticed a big change in how others interact with me once they find out I have anxiety.  They are much more empathetic; they are kinder.  And most of the time, they truly do know what I am going through.  

The anaesthetist– I’ll call him Ralph– was one such person.  Ralph was very touchy-feely with me, and though I usually recoil from such persons, he actually did comfort me.  He also told me a secret, which was that he also has an anxiety disorder and is on meds.  How did this help?  Because he said one other thing:  He said when he had panic attacks, he felt as if he was going to die. That sealed it: that’s panic in a sucky little nutshell.  Everyone gets nervous; not everyone has a panic disorder.  And he said something else that hit home:  that folks with anxiety are normally healthier than they believe.  Anxiety can make you believe that you are sick, even when you aren’t.  

I had a similar experience last summer, when a three-hour panic attack sent me to the ER.  The doctor I saw there told me a similar story, and that she also had to take meds for anxiety.  Even my optometrist shared that she also suffers from anxiety and told me to take more B-12.  Friends and neighbors have also come forth and shared with me their experiences and coping skills.  

The empathy I’ve received has been truly overwhelming, and unexpected.  It’s not that I didn’t know others had anxiety; it’s more that the things I have anxiety over seem so trivial.  But that doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter what triggers the anxiety, it’s really all in how you handle it.  And what kind of support system you have.  I cannot express how important empathy is in these situations.  

Ralph called me later Wednesday afternoon to make sure I was ok.  Two or three other staff members also called that day and Thursday.  I’m sure they see this now and then; I’m sure I’m not the only difficult or anxious patient.  They never made me feel difficult, though.  That just tells me that these folks are in the right profession.  Because honestly, I am really difficult.  



What I love about anxiety attacks is that you really feel like you might be dying. Like any second you might just fall over and die. Not a pleasant feeling. (And by not pleasant, I mean fucking horrible. I like to minimize.)

So when I’ve called the doctor over and over and can’t get a response from a doctor or nurse, well that just creates spikes in anxiety. It’s now 3:45pm and no one has returned my call. What a bunch of bastards.

I’ve heard others say that it’s selfish to not use healthcare if you have insurance or some kind of access. But what good is it if you can’t get the care you need? Lately I feel that the care providers I’ve seen have not listened to me, not taken into account each and every symptom. They focus on just one symptom, and treat it. Nothing else. I feel I need something more holistic. I used to rely heavily on homeopathic and herbal remedies, and it may be time to return to that mindset.

On the other hand, being forced to stay at home and rest isn’t the worst thing.

Another aging milestone: the dreaded and oft-maligned mid-life crisis.

A few nights ago, I had an anxiety attack that lasted three hours and felt like the end of the world. My boyfriend called the ER to ask for advice and described me as a ‘middle-aged woman.’ As if uncontrollable shaking, hyperventilating and feeling faint weren’t enough. Middle-fucking-aged? Internally, I was screaming ‘go fuck yourself.’

As soon as we got to the ER, the first woman I spoke to asked if I was having a panic attack. No, of course not, I said. I’ve had anxiety all my life (literally, before I was ten years of age), and I’ve never had an attack like this. She rolled her eyes. I scoffed and filled out paperwork.

No one in the ER seemed to act as if anything major was happening to me. Where was the oxygen? Where was the IV? Aren’t you going to suck out my blood like every Dr. wants to? Vital signs were taken, a few questions asked. The female doc came back and asked: are you feeling anxious about anything? Yes. I’m feeling anxious about the way I’m currently feeling. I can’t breathe! You’re having an anxiety attack, she tells me. I argue with her. Are you sure? Is there anything else this can be? No, she said. And I speak from experience.

Uncontrollable shaking comes from the huge amounts of adrenaline coursing through your body. You feel faint because you are hyperventilating. When will this stop, I ask? When you tell yourself that you are ok. Or when your body gets worn out from the shaking. Or, you can take this Ativan.

So, once again, my mind is fucking with me. Playing tricks on me. I felt like laughing and crying when the doctor told me what was going on. I know I have anxiety, so how did it get to be this bad? Why don’t I take care of myself like I should? Why am I so stressed out?

Most importantly, how did I get to be this age, this point in my life, without anyone ever telling me that this was anxiety and that there are drugs to keep it at bay?

So. I’m officially labeling this my mid-life crisis. Time to examine what’s really going on in my life and make some changes. This may or may not include more xanax. But it WILL include me taking better care of myself and getting rid of the unhealthy things in my life.

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