A few weeks ago I posted about my genetic counseling appointment. I learned more about the genes I knew increased one’s risk of breast cancer as well as a gene I knew little about that not only related to breast cancer but stomach cancer as well. Stressful times, indeed.
What I didn’t tell you about is that I had a brutal panic attack during that appointment and I am truly amazed I managed to retain any information at all.
There are several things that can make me anxious and prone to having a panic attack and that day a whole bunch of them conspired against me. The main thing is that I stupidly forgot to take an Ativan before I left home. I was running late and fairly frazzled and just plain forgot. Bad move. Right there I thought I might be in trouble but ever the optimist I decided I’d be fine as I was feeling ok driving there. No sweat, I thought.
Then I got to the medical building where my appointment was held and realized I would be forced to ride up in a packed elevator. This is nerve wracking for me as I feel trapped and surrounded by potentially sick and germy people. It is a medical building filled with doctor’s offices, after all. I was saved at the last minute when a lady with a monstrous baby carriage budged in front of me thereby taking up the last bit of available space. Another elevator arrived seconds after and with some very swift and frantic pushing of the ‘close doors’ button I managed to have it all to myself.
Waiting in the waiting room wasn’t too bad and the lady who eventually came to get me was very nice. We walked back through a labyrinth of corridors to the very depths of the office which started my anxiety beacon beeping again. I tend to get anxious if I don’t have a clear and well marked exit. I do not like to feel trapped. We walked into a tiny closet like room where there was a small table and a couple chairs and she closed the door behind her.
Right then my stress went though the roof and all my panic symptoms came on in a rush
-inability to keep still
-total brain function meltdown
-compulsive swallowing due to the feelings of impeding pukage
-an overwhelming desire to RUN LIKE A MUTHERFUCKER AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE.
Then to add to my agony there was no wastepaper basket to puke in. Sometimes I can calm myself down a little if I know there is a safe place to barf. I know that makes no sense but what can I say? Panic attacks are weird and wonderful things.
After an hour and a half of this she asked me if I had any questions. I didn’t know what my name was at that point let alone being capable of forming a question. My lips were sealed shut with stress spit. All I wanted to do was GO GO GO!
I practically ran out of the office poking at the elevator button so I could get the hell out, run to my car and get home, my safe place, where there are such things like food, TV and my soft bed to distract me. Not to mention good drugs to chill me out.
The elevator arrived and, of course, it was packed full of people. I nearly waited for the next one but there were no guarantees that one would be any less full and at this point I was just desperate to get out. I took a deep breath and got on.
Anybody who has panic attacks knows that when you are freaking the fuck out there is a running dialogue in your brain that says all sorts of things like making deals with the devil, your god or your own body to just get through it. You promise yourself all sorts of things like new boots or chocolate or that you will never leave your house again if you can just get through it. You will say or do anything to just get through it. Basically you feel like you probably might die.
In my mental spasm I didn’t really pay any attention to the other occupants in the elevator and it was only when I had turned around to face the doors that I realized that somebody was singing at the back right behind me. A man. A full grown man. Singing out loud.
I looked over my shoulder to see a guy who was obviously mentally disabled singing a song AND doing hand actions to go along with it.
It went like this:
My mamma doesn’t wash me
‘Cause I can wash myself
Mamma doesn’t wash me
I can wash myself
My mamma will not wash me
‘Cause I can clean myself
This sweet man had one arm up in the air while he made washing motions in his armpits and chest with the other hand. And he had a big smile on his face because DAMMIT he was proud.
Oh my God.
My panic attack melted away and I calmly descended to the lobby and walked, not ran, to my car and went home. Singing the song out loud in my car the whole way.
Dude, thanks for saving my life.