A decade ago (Wow, has it been ten years?), I had a cramp in my calf. The doctors kept putting me off, unconcerned with a "pulled muscle". I was also having trouble breathing, but they said that was because I moved to a higher elevated, drier climate. I moved from the bayous to the Rockies.
After weeks of suffering and my issues getting worse, I complained that my sore leg was bigger than the other, they still found my complaints annoying, but sent me to the ER for an ultrasound, on my son's birthday. I was terrified, because nobody would tell me anything and there were seven doctors scrambling around me with me begging for someone to please call my husband.
Turns out I had a blood clot (DVT - Deep Vein Thrombosis) that spanned the length of my thigh. Pieces of it had broken off and settled into clusters in my lungs (PE - Pulmonary Embolism). Clusters! In both lungs!
I spent a week in ICU, three weeks in the hospital, then I was sent home. Two weeks of self injections in the belly with Heparin, spent six months on Coumadin and bed rest. The doctors couldn't believe I had lived so long, I was amazing to them, but as a mother of two young boys, I was terrified.
That was when my anxiety started. I'd never had an anxiety attack before, but after the cramp in my leg/blood clot, whenever I got a cramp or pain, I'd have a panic attack. Once I started freaking out a bit while driving, I made it to a parking lot before blacking out, then ended up stumbling into a strip mall and laying on a floor where someone called for an ambulance.
That really scared me.
I was sent to a psychiatrist that evaluated me for a few weeks and basically came to the conclusion, "It's perfectly normal. That can be frightening. You almost died and it's natural for you to feel this way."
So off they sent me with a little anxiety medications and a pat on the head.
It seems it's getting worse as I get older, but I'm in menopause and that doesn't seem to help my situation. If I wake up with a sore neck, I'm sure to have an attack because some part of my brain goes into overload, remembers near death with nobody believing me even though I told everyone something was wrong and if the pain gets bad, a switch flips and I have an attack.
Tension at the store from crowds, attack. Sensory overload with kids running around like maniacs, attack. It doesn't help that three years ago I took a tumble and broke two ribs, thinking I punctured a lung (just had the wind knocked out of me), but they missed the fact that I'd also broken my neck. That led to a lot of intense pain and two years of physical therapy. The pain in my neck is something that I still fight with daily.
Another "normal" situation. I could have been paralyzed, I made it through, but I still have that underlying fear.
The logical part of the brain wars with the paranoid part, but with shallow breathing (it's an anxiety response that's unavoidable), I get light headed, weak, tingly, and then a full-blown attack occurs.
It's really hard because I'll be talking to my husband in the middle of my crisis, saying how stupid this is, I know nothing is wrong with me and yet here I am, fighting an anxiety/panic attack.
Sometimes I think about going back to a psychiatrist because I feel like I'm out of control. That my anxiety is in control of my life, but at the same time I keep being told that it's normal because of my history.
Well, no matter the cause or the problem, I have a life to lead, a family to take care of and don't have time for this, so I'll just do my best to muddle through on my own mentally knowing that there is nothing physically wrong. Plus I have the support of a wonderful husband who at least "gets it" and always helps me through my crisis.
No matter how frustrating that can be!