I had two panic attacks within the previous 24 hours. My experience with panic attacks lately has been minimal. They were really bad at night, waking me up from a dead sleep, and they were so frequent that they somehow became less scary. Eventually I stopped noticing if I was even having panic attacks in my sleep anymore. I assume I wasn’t; I’m still unsure these are panic attacks. A part of me thinks they are onset symptoms of seizures; but you can’t stop a seizure by controlling your breathing and working hard to focus on everything but the white light crashing over your mind. That’s not how seizures work. It is, however, how you can reduce the impact of a panic or anxiety attack.
When I woke up the other night with my left body feeling numb and heavier than usual and my breath matching the waves of the white fuzz growing over my head, I was really panicked; more so than I have been in a long time. I couldn’t gather myself enough to run through my checklist. I almost woke up Kasper but I know sometimes waking him up intensifies everything and makes me cry. So I focused on moving in a controlled manner because that’s all I know to do in these situations. I feel like if I keep moving a left limb then I’ll be okay. Like it distracts my mind enough to get a grip on reality again.
Last night right after dinner, as I sat at the table with my husband and kids, I felt my chest rise as if I were hooked up to an air hose with a foot pedal and a crazed man with a restless leg sat at the other end. My breath quickened but in slow motion. I really hate this feeling because it is so difficult to explain. Everything becomes surreal; like you’re separated from everything and everything is suspended away from you. Like a play displaying motion through individually moving sections of background and props.
It feels like you’re looking through a tunnel but instead of looking through the tunnel, you’re eyes are the tunnel. Not only do I feel like my mind is being swallowed by a blanket of white light, I feel like it’s radiating out of me. I feel almost as if every moveable part of me is shaking on a different wave on the Richter scale. And all I can do is work hard to stay focused on my breathing to slow my heartbeat while ignoring this bizarre glitch of my senses. I guess that’s the best way to describe it: A glitch of the senses.
Speaking of senses– One thing different from these attacks that happen while I’m awake and the ones that wake me up is my nose. I notice no difference at night but during the waking attacks, my nose is numb and often feels colder than the rest of my body. I have no idea what this means but I hate it. It’s the same way my nose feels when I’m experiencing what one neuro called olfactory hallucinations which can be caused by temporal lobe seizures; my seizures are more closely associated with frontal lobe seizures. I’m not sure what all of this means but I do know it’s incredibly confusing.
Everything in the head…all of the symptoms are so similar that it’s really difficult to isolate and group symptoms with diagnoses. I certainly can’t do it. Because of my wish to educate and inform myself on everything going on since my stroke, I find it easy to sympathize with doctors that specialize in more complex systems and areas of the body like neurology and the nervous system. It’s frustrating as a patient and I don’t just want answers but I need them, too. The problem is that I’m ridiculously unsure of which questions to ask; I always ask the wrong ones and I can tell it makes things more difficult for my doctors as well as myself. This, naturally, frustrates doctors. I need to take breathing classes to control these attacks without more pills…