Wednesday afternoon my husband called his doctor complaining of chest pain and was instructed to go immediately to the ER. Actually, he had had the chest pain off and on for several days but he A) attributed it to Taco Bell, B) is good at denial, and C) is stubborn.
So off to the ER we went. We were tucked into Bay 22 and after a time, a nurse drew my husband’s blood. While we were waiting for results, we watched The Big Sleep on the room’s TV, possibly not the best choice at that particular time. We were there from 4:30 to 10:00, when they reported that Dan’s cardiac enzymes were a “little high.” I left shortly thereafter and Dan was admitted.
Although in the past ER visits with my parents caused massive anxiety which then caused a variety of physical symptoms, this time I did not panic. I was too exhausted. I even had a little trouble driving home. The streets in our plat seemed the wrong length or something and I wasn’t absolutely sure where to turn. When I got home I fed and watered the cats and then collapsed. Sleeping, not weeping.
The next morning I had to get up and finish a work project, then go to see Dan for a few hours, then back home to more work. Again, an early collapse. Still no panic.
Today (Friday) I am writing this post after finishing the work project and while waiting to hear that Dan’s angiogram is done so that I can go and see him. Again, I am not panicking. Numb, maybe, and tired, but not anxious.
I used to hate not knowing. Waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop was torture. I am given to catastrophizing at the least provocation. But now, when there is an event that lends itself easily to catastrophizing I find I’m not. I have decided to postpone panicking until I truly have something to panic about.
At the moment Dan is fairly comfortable, in a very good hospital with attentive staff and even therapy dogs. There is nothing that I can do except visit him and call him. I figure that when he calls with the results of the angio and info on whether they gave him a stent, I can panic then if required. Say, if he has to have bypass surgery.
But I’m disinclined to panic until or unless they tell me that’s the case.
And … I just got a phone call from his doctor. Dan had multiple artery blockages and required four stents, but no bypass surgery for now. I’m relieved, of course, but my main feeling is still one of exhaustion. Maybe I’ve been worrying in the back of my brain at a subconscious level and that has added to my exhaustion. Maybe when this is all over I’ll let loose and have a good cry, when he’s back home.
My friends have been sending me and him thoughts and prayers, hugs, light, and even good juju. They have also been reminding me to take care of myself, to remember to eat and sleep and I’ve been doing that at least on some kind of level. A bowl of cereal now, cheese sticks as a bedtime snack, a visit to the Waffle House when I’m too tired to make a meal. And eight hours of sleep a night. I can’t say the sleep has been dreamless or restful. I wake up still exhausted but at least my body is taken care of in a reasonable manner.
So there you have it. A potentially dire situation happened but I did not panic. Was it postponing the catastrophizing that helped? The exhaustion? I don’t know, but whatever coping mechanism it was, I’m glad it kicked in.
Dan has done so much for me through the years. I’m glad I will have an opportunity to pay him back even if only a fraction as much.
Comments on: "Exhaustion as an Antidote for Panic" (6)
Wow, what a challenging life event!! You have really been graced with some calm clear headedness. It’s hreat you could be of such support to your husband!! If you were panicking, you wouldn’t have been able to be there for him. It’s amazing what comes out of us in a crisis. I am happy you have coped so well. Take care.
We had another, related crisis. The pharmacy didn’t have the right med when we picked them up and we didn’t notice until they were closed. I got on the phone with the hospital, who got on the phone with the cardiologist, who called in the script to an all-night pharmacy that wasn’t on our insurance plan. But we got the pills and we were in bed by midnight. Now I get to call the first pharmacy and yell at them.
I discovered after panicking every time mom had to go to the hospital because of pneumonia and looked like she wasn’t going to make it, that after a while, I quit panicking. I concentrated, instead, on making sure the nurses and doctors were doing what they were supposed to do. Yes, I built up hidden anxiety, but I was able to put it aside while dealing with the emergency, then recuperating after the emergency was done. Knowing what mom needed and ordering people around was just what I needed. 🙂 Please keep us apprised of the situation and let us know when it’s safe for the rest of us to stop worrying.
I think the worst is over. We had a glitch with the pharmacy that entailed phone calls to the hospital and the cardiologist and an all-night pharmacy, but he was medicated and in bed by midnight.
Glad to hear you handled this crisis so well and that Dan is at home recuperating. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Thank you. All prayers are appreciated.