Monday, August 19, 2013

The Wolf At Your Heels

I had to go the dentist today. It resulted in tears, shaking, hyperventilating, and not because of the usual reasons trip to the dentist does.

I've had trouble with medical procedures done on Lis since Lis's surgery--even a routine one, like a shot. Not exactly shocking, to have your baby undergo cranial vault reconstruction, and then freak out when she sobs over shots or freaks out over a chest x-ray. In fact, I've chalked it up to pretty much expected.

I had a bunch of personal medical appointments, appointments for ME, since Lis's surgery. However, I seemed to find reasons why they needed to be "rescheduled" aka, cancelled and never rebooked. I was just busy, I would catch up, yada yada yada. It did not dawn on me that I was doing myself a disservice until I went on my campaign to improve my health earlier this year.

I certainly did not think I was avoiding it.

So, I went for the teeth first, figuring that I had probably done some damage there, and sure enough, a cavity. Ah well, dentist trips have never bothered me, I have never had a fear of dentists or cavity fillings, it will be fine. It will be fine. It will be fine.

I began chanting that in my head when I walked into my dentist's office, a very family friendly, nonthreatening place. The roar in my ears when I sat down in the chair and the overhead light was switched on was deafening, drowning out my chanting. When they leaned me back, everything went numb and I felt faint.

I'm not afraid of pain. I've had Novocaine shots before, and it has always been no big deal. But suddenly I was wincing, gripping the arm rests, pressing backwards into the chair, gulping back whimpers. Tears began pouring down my face.

The door to the next room over opened, and I heard the dentist in there use the drill--that high pitched whine--it was all I heard. I couldn't hear my heart, I couldn't hear my breath, I couldn't hear anything anyone was saying, all I heard was that whine.

I was shaking, I was crying, my heart was racing, I was pale. The dentist was concerned, had raised my chair, was asking if I was okay, did I need water, did I need a break. I mumbled out that it really hurt and I needed a minute. I could see on her face that she knew it wasn't true--she knows me, she knows I have a great pain tolerance, but she gave me water and space.

I sobbed and slobbered and shook and took a few minutes. I pulled myself together and got my cavity filled. I actively had to sing Mary Poppins songs or "A Few of my Favorite Things" from Sound of Music in my head throughout the procedure. Thoughts of Lis hearing the whine of the drill I was hearing keep leaking through, much like the tears rolling down my face. I thought about during the hour long procedure, and I thought about it all day, and here is where I am at:

First, I have been subconsciously, deliberately avoiding my own medical appointments and issues, not because I am busy, but because I am freaked out. Second, this is new since Lis's surgery. Third, this is not normal behavior for me. I called my sister after, to run what happened by her, and she pointed out that I really don't "lose [my] shit like that. Ever." Fourth, I was completely unable to separate Lis's ordeal out from a simple, normal procedure of my own, and I was unable to block it, shut it down, divert it, or any other coping tactic. Fifth, I have noticed increasing anxiety at Lis's medical appointments, even for minor things. I have also noticed increasing anxiety when Lis injures herself (DAILY) in some minor way. Just now, Lis (in bed, asleep) gasped and I was up the stairs in thirty seconds or less, convinced she was wrapped in blankets, choking and dying. Not so, Grace. She's a sleep, probably having a funny dream, where she gasps at the hilarity of it all.

It doesn't appear to be an all the time thing. I don't feel depressed--most of the time, I'm in a really freaking good mood. Lis is delightful, Vor and I have a great marriage, I love my family, I love my job. For sure, my anxiety is higher than it used to be, but I was a stress ball before Lis anyway. It appears to be specifically triggered by injury or routine medical appointments. Well, okay, that doesn't quite explain my still racing heart reacting to Lis's little gasp a few minutes ago. Maybe tack on unusual medical related behavior.

I don't know what this is yet. All I know is that this is not normal behavior for me. It seems like I may have had some kind of panic attack, which is not something I have ever had before. I have felt it building recently, but was always able to divert it before this time.

Do I wait? Do I see if it happens again? Do make calls now and get help? I don't know. I don't know. I've felt, since Lis was diagnosed, like there was this shadow behind me, dogging my every step, chasing me, gaining, fading, then reappearing right at my heels. I wonder if this little event was it's way of taking shape, so that I can see it, name it, embrace it, banish it.


CM said...

It seems like this isn't the only thing -- you may feel fine most of the time, but from reading your blog for several months, it seems like the trauma you're still experiencing is a recurring theme.

Grace said...

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. I never wanted it to be about that, but you're right. I just feel so DUMB about it. I mean, she's FINE! She's great! I feel like a jerk and a whinner, and like I am making a big deal out of nothing.

CP said...

Although I can only imagine a small portion of what you have gone through, I do know what it is like to have Extreme panic attacks over medical procedures (I freaked during the childbirth video, couldnt breath and had to leave the room and I was a totalmess for my. second c-secection. so i feel your pain re: medical procedure-induced panic. but I agree with CM that the ordeal must have affected you on a deeper level. maybe you even have some kind of PTSD?

CM said...

You're not a jerk or a whiner or dumb, and what you went through wasn't nothing! There's nothing wrong with taking care of yourself. Hell, I ended up in therapy because of my job. I'd say you have a better reason than that.

Attorney at Large said...

You need Klonopin to get you through these moments. Not gonna lie: it is sometimes the difference between me hiding in bed and me being functional super-mom. Or at least functional.

Grace said...

Yeah, that's the other problem: I have extremely adverse reactions to being medicated. So this should be fun!