Today, for the first time in my life, I experienced something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy… a full-blown panic attack. After hearing how excruciatingly awful adult tonsillectomies are, I expected pain… sore throat, headache, earache. I’ve taken all the precautions possible to avoid this — eating crushed ice, drinking fluids constantly, sleeping upright, chewing gum, and never missing a dose of pain medication. So far so good, as I really haven’t been in terrible pain. Sure, my throat hurts, really bad even, but that’s not unusual. I mean, I’ve had strep and tonsillitis off and on for years now!
But something happened to me today that really set me back. I was sitting on the couch watching T.V. and it seemed like my throat felt different. It felt kind of swollen, and as you know, that sensation really freaks me out. I tried chewing on ice, putting ice packs on my neck, getting up and walking around, lying very still, watching T.V., closing my eyes, drinking water, etc. Basically, I was trying everything to get this sensation to go away, but it wouldn’t. I started having the beginnings of a panic attack, and I knew I needed to get this under control and quick. I looked at my throat in the mirror. Everything looks fine, nothing is swollen. I breathed deeply through both my nose and mouth. No problems breathing at all. Nonetheless, it felt like the very back of the roof of my mouth was touching my tongue, basically like things were closing up, and I could feel the panic setting in.
At 12:30, I looked at the clock and realized that it had only been two hours since my last dose of pain medication, so I couldn’t take anymore. Even though I wasn’t experiencing pain, I wasn’t sure what else I could do to make the feeling go away. When I realized that, full blown panic set in. I felt like I was going to die. I *almost* called 9-1-1. Instead, I called my parents and told them to come over immediately. My mom said she was going to bring a Xanax. Next, I called my doctor’s office. When I told the nurse I was having a panic attack, he got my doctor on the phone right away. My doctor assured me that I was going to be just fine. Obviously I was breathing perfectly well. He said the swelling in my throat is just disconcerting but that I was in absolutely no danger. He asked if I had any Valium, and I told him my mom was bringing me a Xanax, which he said was great.
Just talking to my doctor and having him reassure me that I was not in danger really helped. But the Xanax definitely helped, too. Within about ten minutes of taking it, I felt myself relax, then I took a two hour nap. I’ve hardly had two consecutive hours of sleep since Friday, so that felt nice.
I’m afraid I might get another panic attack, but now I have a nice bottle of Xanax, just in case.
Have you ever had a panic attack? What did you do about it?