Examining fears, number 2-Illness

I participated in an exercise that revolved around physically writing down fears, then looking at each and searching for their story. When did that fear start? Why did it start? who, what where was involved?

The second fear I listed was illness. Feeling ill scares the bejesus out of me. This means that I am in a heightened state of fear 24/7. On a daily basis I experience horrid sudden states of dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea. Muscle pain, aches and odd sensations in places on my body that I never realized were there before. I experience reactions to heat that leave me fuzzy in the head, disoriented, or at the very least…passed out in my yard.

When did this start? I would have to say in my early 20’s. I was in the military and found myself being examined regularly for blood pressure due to the dizzyness. Shipmates would report to my superior officers I appeared to be unsteady on my feet, almost staggering at times. This lead of course to a drug and alcohol test, which never came back positive so they would go searching for the cause. I think after a while I had to accept that people saw me differently, in that I never realized I was staggering, or swaying while I walked…rather I was trying to stay upright through the dizziness, light headedness and nausea and assumed I was faking everyone out about it…joke was on me.Sometimes it would go away totally, sometime for months or even years, then suddenly, usually at the lousiest moment it would return. This time it has lasted almost nine years now. Day after day of relentless hell.

In the first few years this time I have had many CAT scans, blood tests, EKG’s, neuro exams, eye exams, MRI’s, x-rays, even a cardiac-cath and an electroencephalogram (EEG). Yet, despite all this testing nothing nothing has been found other than the stroke that they assumed happened when I had the PE. I suffer non stop sinus infections and chest congestion. If something were to happen where I could not be here all my animals would die. The last time I was hospitalized several kittens I was hand feeding died.

I feel like a person who is undependable and unreliable. It is hard to look in the mirror and tell myself that I am well, as the mirror and things on the wall appear to be moving around, or, when I see two or three of each and can not tell which one to grab for. Could sinus inflamation be the root of all evil here? I lived on Sinutab as a kid. Took so much of it that I am now allergic to pseudoephedrine. I have been given things like Claritin, but nothing seemed to make a difference and got to add the side effects of these drugs to my long list of miseries.

When you feel like dirt for this long your imagination can run wild with all the possibilities and it is nearly impossible to convince yourself that you’re not nearing your end days. To that end all I can do is do what I can each day, and rest for the rest.

Once again for the next few days my job is to find evidence that refutes the fear. Evidence that I am indeed healthy, that I am not as ill as I believe. Wish me luck.

And so it is.

 

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Examining fears, number 1-death

I participated in an exercise that revolved around physically writing down fears, then looking at each and searching for their story. When did that fear start? Why did it start? who, what where was involved?

Although I have been doing this (asking why) for quite some time I have not broken it down this way. What I have been doing is asking why I am like this now. What happened? What caused this? In looking at my fears list I have come to realize that it’s been a little more complicated than that. There is not one, but many fears acting  together, and against each other to put me in the turmoil I now find myself in. About all these things have in common is they all developed about the same time with the exception of one or two.

I think the most pronounced on my list is the fear of death. When you are a chronic panic disorder sufferer the intense anxiety produces a constant feeling of impending doom. What could bring you closer to the thought of death than your intuition telling you your death is imminent dozens times a day?

So what’s my death fear story? I think this one has been with me since I was a kid. My first panic attack that I remember was around the age of nine. I cannot recall what brought it on, but I remember laying on the couch as my hands went into tetany deforming uncontrollably as the muscles consorted my fingers in directions that nature had not intended and the tingling of my face around my nose and mouth as well as my arms and hands. At the same time I began to experience tunnel vision, the tunnel closing in to a pinpoint before I passed out totally for a few minutes. I remember feeling terrified. I did not understand what was happening to me as my parents sat beside me trying to reassure me…as their voices faded off to me. My next memory is laying in the back seat of the car (in the days before seat belts were even part of a car’s interior) as my mother drove me to the doctor over 20 miles away. By the time we got there I was feeling better. Old Doc Smith checked me over, gave me a small envelope of “pills” other wise known as M&M’s and sent us on our way.

Since then I have gone through phases where I challenged death to take me and other times when I have been running from it. Challenges included walking on a four inch wide rail of a bridge near my childhood home as a early teen, crossing a gully 150 plus deep, an act alone looking back on it was nothing short of a suicide attempt masquerading as a challenge. Everytime I walk over that bridge today I remember that and it seems like a totally different person did that, and how truly stupid it was.

The agoraphobia I know today is the act of running from it. As a nurse and a highly sensitive person over the years I have signed many death certificates as the witness to such events. The reality that none of us are getting out of this alive was beaten into my consciousness as part of the occupation. I have to say too that in all the years I never witnessed a person passing in any other form than peaceful. But for some reason that was never comforting. What penetrated my inner soul was the finiteness of it all. There was no going back, no changing one’s mind, perminateness. I began to ask what the point was from the start? You’re born to work your ass off, still be poor, suffer the situations of life only to die anyway despite any steps you take to live a good healthy life. The concept that this person would never return; their family would never know or see them again. Especially difficult were the deaths of the young. Young mothers leaving their babies behind, babies leaving their mothers behind, teenagers leaving behind a family and the possibilities of a long life. As a society I believe we have accepted the fact that the elderly will die, and in a weird way we expect it, but to that end these are people that have been there for us all our lives. We become accustomed to them always being there, and then….they are not.

The next step in this process is to spend a few days looking to change the focus. I need to find evidence of the opposite. I need to look for evidence that I am not dieing. Evidence of life. I guess the mear fact that after many years of all this I am still alive. I see no decline in the number of bills I am getting to support living..you know, like the electric bill, gas bill, grocery bill…..And despite the hundreds of medical tests I have endured over the years they have never found any organic issues (other than the stroke after the pulmonary embolism).

I have however had some pretty serious medical conditions that by all rights should have been the end for me such as the pulmonary embolism, the stroke, the bout with Mirizzi syndrome, and pneumonia.  I feel like a cat running out of lives. I think the agoraphobia is the only way I can crawl in a hole to protect my back, see something coming from only one direction, and have half a chance of fighting it off. It has become a coping mechanism.

And so it is.

 

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Sizzling Summer

Summer means different things to different people. I am one of those people who could do without a summer. I can not tolerate the heat outdoors, which is a problem when I have to venture out.  Out means to the chicken coops or garden in the back yard. I have come to be proud of the fact I can travel the 150 so feet from the house to there without passing out or throwing up most days. The garden is about 100 feet away. When I go out to care for the animals I have to go early morning, or very late afternoon, to avoid the heat of the day. What happens if I do try to go out? I lay in the backyard passed out until someone drives by and sees me and calls someone. Fun hu? ……When it’s 90 degrees? Yea…I pee very dark amber for a week, and depending on if I fall on my face…or back nurse sunburn for just as long.

I did as mentioned plant a garden in a new section of the yard this year. It is fenced in so most critters don’t bother it. You never know really how well a new plot will do the first year especially when you’re broke, so the plants have to depend on mother nature for all nourishment. I found out I will have about a 2 year waiting period for my social security disability hearing. The military have already determined my disability, but, SSA can’t figure it out. These are the people who gladly take our money in past years, bitch if you don’t pay it, but are willing to let you die getting it when you need it. Had I known 45 some years ago that I would have to starve to death to get my money back…they could have kissed my ass getting it in the first place.

To my surprise the garden is doing better than I expected. I have been freezing green beans every other day, as well as peas. The cherry tomatoes are loaded, as is the larger tomatoes, carrots are coming up and I cut 2 small heads off the broccoli plant yesterday. I have 3 zucchini’s to freeze so far and there are more to come. On the property line behind the garden there is a hedgerow loaded with black long berries that are just beginning to ripen and yesterday I picked about a quart of those before being run off by a skunk. They went into the freezer this morning. I know what I have coming from the new garden this fall will not get us through the whole winter, but what I do not have to buy will go toward the fuel bill. Next year however I am hoping to have enough for the entire year to next harvest.

Up back behind the barn there has been wild asparagus growing so I dug them up and brought them down to the garden too and have planted some cherry shrubs. The cherries will take about 5 years to produce…but ya gotta start someplace I guess. I have apple trees in the back yard too, and they, by my best estimate should have enough apples til next fall. I am surrounded by vineyard and will be making grape juice, as well as preserving skins for grape bread. I have never been a fan of grape pie. I am also hoping to land some blueberries for muffins, pies and pancakes. We have a few blueberry farms in the vicinity.  I have some planted this year too but they are a fickle plant to grow, and take much care….not sure mine will survive.

Despite the dire situation financially I find myself in right now I am trying to maintain hope. I was once told that since I am not dead yet my mission is not complete. I am not sure what I could do for anyone else when I struggle to help myself, but, I guess I will see soon enough.

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The Outing

I have a old Chevy pick up. I figured out that in the last year I have logged about 500 miles on it, all of them pretty much doctor visits. Each year the truck has to be inspected. Each year it costs me an arm and leg to get it to pass, mostly because I do not drive it, so it sits and that seems to be harder on a vehicle than driving it. Last year I replaced all 4 rotors, brake calipers, and brake pads, CV Joint on passenger side, upper and lower ball joints and wheel bearings. The year before was O2 sensors. This year it was time to replace the 10 year old tires. They still looked brand new, but as weather does they were beginning to become dry rotted.

I got a really good deal at Walmart, trouble was Walmart is a hour’s drive from me. I spent 3 days sleeping and trying to prepare myself for the trip.  I seem to do a little better in the afternoons now so I made the appointment for 5pm. My chickens needed feed and there is a tractor supply store near there too so I left 2 hours before the appointment to be able to take my time getting there.

I got to the city and and was rounding a corner onto main street when I look over to see my neighbor right beside me in traffic. Her son in the car with her, shocked to see me waved back.  She sent me a text.  Being totally overwhelmed with the traffic I could not get back to her until I stopped the truck. When I got to Walmart I turned the truck over to the automotive people, darted to the food section got my bread and milk, paid for it and darted back to the automotive department, found a secluded corner and basically stayed there till my truck was done. I had taken a bag of peppermint candy with me (to help keep my mouth shut to avoid hyperventilating as much as possible)…and it was half gone before I left the store for the trip home.

By the time I got home I had so much adrenaline running through me that I couldn’t sit down, stand still or think. I have been basically awake since Tuesday (today is Thursday) because I still can not calm down to lay down for any length of time. I have been so nauseous I can not eat so I have been trying to keep up my fluids. My body feels like I have been hit by a car…the aches and pains, stiffness, and overall weakness is overwhelming. I have trouble staying awake, but I can’t lay down long enough to go to sleep. My legs feel like I have restless leg syndrome. The dizziness is relentless.  I already have worsening cold symptoms. I feel like I do not know what to do with myself. It’s going to take me a month to get over that trip. Last night was the first time in a while that I really contemplated  what a blessing it would be if I just died.

As long as I am still breathing people around me who refuse to acknowledge that I can not just “come and go” like they do  will expect me to “come and go” like they do. It’s been 8 years now and they go on like if they ignore it it will go away. When I do “go” it is because it is to please them. They give no thought or care to the misery that it causes me. If I do not “go” I get an asschewing from someone. I am so tired of it all.

I thought about moving to a place where nobody knows me. Far enough from family and friends that I would not be expected to visit, or be visited. That way nobody will get mad if I don’t show up. Close enough to services that it would not take me a month to get over the “go’s” I do . They won’t know of all the ER visits and Panic attacks (this is a small town….you can’t go to the bathroom around here without every body knowing how you made out). It would be nice to go to a ER and be taken seriously.

And so for now I will carry on, minute by minute.

 

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Mornings

I hate the morning. How do people just get out of bed and start their day without thinking about the repercussions of sitting up and moving, like the possibility of a heart attack? How do they just sit up and head for the bathroom without falling against the wall at least once? How come the world around them does not spin? How do they handle the nausea when one first sits up? Everyone  wants to throw up when they get up every morning…right? Everybody’s world spins to they cannot tell where the walls are…right? Everybody has problems breathing, chest pain, and feels like they are going to pass out when they get up, right? Yet, they all get up and shower, and go to work. Why can’t I do that? What kind of ass wipe does that make me.

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Getting through the day

I guess my job hunt is over. After 4 months it seems I do not belong anywhere. No one wants to hire a person who can only work when they feel up to it, which is about one day a week, who can’t sit at a computer for more than a hour without breaking out into a crying jag. I can not seem to focus on anything for more than 15 minutes at a time, and doing that drains me out. I’m smoking like a chimney. I hate it. At times I realize I have 3 going at the same time. Who does that? Someone who can not focus on the moment at hand, someone who can not seem to get their mind gathered into one space.

I heard someone say once that you should not live for someone else. You should be living for yourself. Although I think for the normal person this is good advice. For a person like me, not so much. Admittedly, if it were not for my daughter and granddaughter (who I see about 3 times a year) I probably would figure out a way not to have to live like this. Admittedly, I am living for them, not for me. This is a miserable existence, but I can not be selfish enough to inflict undue pain on them which I know would ensue.

So for now I will continue to wake every morning, God willing,  and spend my day one minute at a time fighting the imaginary bugs crawling on my skin, the sensations of suffocation, the overwhelming sensation of fatigue, the nausea, blurred vision, daily headaches, the floating out of my body experiences, chest pain, body aches, flu like symptoms, feelings of worthlessness and uselessness, crying jags, and so on. I just do not know what else to do.

I have also discovered that it seems like my minutes are longer than the rest of the world’s. One minute to me sometime feels like a hour. I have heard people say they wished there more more than 24 hours in a day. They should be struck down dead as far as I am concerned. If they could only walk in my 24 hour day they too would beg for less not more.

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I need….

I need to find a job that I can do from home to get out of debt so I can change my living situation.

I need to change my living situation so I can get some peace.

I need to become as self centered, self absorbed and self serving as the person I am living with now…..live alone.

I need to find a way to accept the fear of death I have when the body sensations take over, to accept that I am going to die sooner or later and there is nothing I will be able to do about it so when I am living alone once again I can accept that if I die, it’s for the best.

I need to get my affairs in order better so when that moment comes I am not fighting it.

I need to accept the fact that I am gullible and although very intelligent, very stupid too.

I need to accept the fact that I will never overcome this condition, stop fighting it, and hiding from it.

 

 

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