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Friday, October 21, 2011

The Universe Has Gone Trigger Happy

I'm sorry it has been so long since my last post and since I've been able to read through everyone else's posts.  It seems that in the last week, all H-E-Double Hockey Sticks broke loose for me.  Where to begin......

Let's start at the beginning.  Saturday, we received a phone call from my sister.  A twenty-year old boy I used to babysit and have known since he was born, died.  He was born with a severe heart defect.  The doctors weren't even sure if he'd ever make it home from the hospital.  After multiple reconstructive surgeries, pacemakers, and even a heart transplant, Clinton's health issues finally became too much for his body to handle.  He was found by his uncle, laying in one of the family's fields.  What makes this even harder for me is that Clinton was the child of two of my oldest brother's best friends.  Clinton was even named after my brother.  His parents gave him the middle name "Scott" as a tribute to their friend who had struggled for years against his own body during his struggle with cancer and had won.  This was shortly before my brother's death in an automobile accident.

Those of you who have read past posts know how difficult my brother's death has been for me.  It is something I've always felt guilty about and struggled with.  So, Clinton's death, coming less than a month after the twentieth anniversary of Scott's, was a real blow.  Especially when combined with the fact that in a few weeks, it will be the anniversary of the death of one of my former students who was killed crossing the street to get to a birthday party.  Everything just keeps piling up.

But, wait!!!  The universe wasn't done with me yet.  Those who know me well know that I LOVE Indy Car Racing.  Being a Hoosier, I almost consider it my duty.  I've always loved Indy Cars.  Over the last few years, that love has grown.  I've found that it is something I can turn to no matter my mood and find completely encompassing and destressing.  At least I did until Sunday.  Everyone who really knows my love of Indy Cars knows I have five favorites who I adore.  One of those was Dan Wheldon.

So, imagine how Sunday went when I tuned into the final Indy Car race of the season, hoping to enjoy it and destress a little from everything swirling in my head and heart.  Then, only a few laps into the race, a fiery crash claims fifteen cars and the life of Dan Wheldon.  Not only is this heartbreaking in itself, but once the news of Dan Wheldon's death was announced, my mind was immediately shifted back to my brother's death. (the second such trigger in as many days.)  Dan Wheldon's car hit a second car that he couldn't avoid and went airborne, cockpit first, into the catch fence, bursting into flames.  The protective roll bar was sheared from the car and when the car came down on the edge of the wall, upside down, Dan Wheldon's helmet struck the wall causing unsurvivable head injuries.  My brother lost control while going too fast on wet roads and went airborne.  He struck an electrical pole with the driver's side door, shearing off the pole and crushing the side of the truck.  The truck then proceeded to roll and flip several times.  The impact of the accident caused unsurvivable internal injuries and a broken neck.  So, while the accidents weren't anywhere close to identical, there were enough similarities to immediately send me back to that 4 am call.

The universe didn't stop when the weekend ended...noooooo....not by a long shot....

I already had a therapy session schedule for 9:00 Monday morning.  Normally, I have them scheduled for the afternoon.  First, I have to wait until my mom is off work to borrow her car to get to the therapist.  Second, I don't do well with mornings.  I'm usually running around like crazy trying to make sure everything is taken care of and prepared for the day.  I had scheduled the morning appointment though as my mom was off school for Fall Break, and I had scheduled an appointment with an oral surgeon for the afternoon.  Because I was already stressed, I decided to go to all my appointments alone, rather than take my mom with me.  Having her with me would just make me feel as if I had to be even more careful and protective.  I just didn't think I could deal with it.

So, I showed up for my 9:00 am appointment with Rachel.  I told her all about the aftereffects of our last session as well as all the stress and anxiety that had cropped up throughout the weekend.  I also told her how Monday and Tuesday promised to be stressful as there were lots of appointments and lots of driving and time out of the house to deal with.  Monday had a therapy appointment, a quick breakfast, a trip to the library, a 45 minute drive to the oral surgeon to discuss removal of my impacted wisdom teeth, grocery shopping and a 45 minute drive home.  Tuesday was supposed to have a 7:00 am drop off of the dog at the groomer, a 45 minute drive to a neurologist for my mom to have some tests done for her polymialgia rheumatica, a 45 minute drive home, and eventually picking up the dog at the groomer.  Rachel helped me go through and set up a plan for the two days as well as coping mechanisms to help me through the rougher parts.  We also discussed the events of the weekend, eventually working through my brother's death and into more about my father and his abuse, something that has been on my mind a lot lately.  Needless to say, it was a rough, tear-filled session.  Thankfully, Rachel did not assign "homework".

After therapy, the quick breakfast and stop and the library went well.  I made it down to Lafayette just fine, avoiding the interstate as I knew I wouldn't be able to handle the speeds and traffic.  I picked up most of the items on my shopping list before the appointment with the oral surgeon.  (Nothing that needed kept cold of course.)  Then I spent 90 minutes at the oral surgeon.....waiting and waiting and find out that my oral surgery would be slightly more difficult than planned (as they would have to cut the top part off one tooth, sliding alongside and under it to push it up where they could pull it, being careful of the nerve so they didn't cause numbness and paralysis that could last weeks or even months), that I needed cleared by my doctor before I could have the surgery (meaning another doctor's appointment), that they may be limited on the amount of numbing agent they could use but knocking me out would mean that it would have to be done in a hospital OR given my heart condition, and that my insurance would pay for less than half the cost (leaving me with nearly $400 to come up with on my own).

Needless to say, I was not feeling all that confident or peaceful when I left.  Still, I had a few more things to pick up at the store before I went home....including meat.  Yeah, my old nemesis, raw meat.  Before I went into the store, I called my mom to double check that there wasn't anything else I needed to pick up that wasn't on my list.  She proceeded to tell me that she had gotten a call from the Sheriff's office that morning while I was at therapy.  It seems that the parents of a pair of girls she tutors had seen a picture of a child molester and thought it looked similar to my mom.  The deputy knew my mom and knew it wasn't her so was calling to get her driver's license number to pull a picture to prove to the parents that it wasn't my mom.  (I'm still not sure how they thought it looked like my mom.  The woman didn't look much like her at all  had a longer face, different color hair and eyes, was ten years older, seven inches taller, forty pounds lighter, and lived in a different county!!!!)  Thankfully, that whole mess has since been cleaned up.

Still......I managed to get through Monday.  I was exhausted, stressed, and a little depressed.  I went to bed early and looked toward making it through Tuesday.  Needless to say, I didn't sleep well that night.  Actually, I hadn't slept well in several days by that point.  I woke up slightly earlier than I needed to.  I walked and fed the dog, fed the cats, etc. to get prepared for an early and long day.  I was starting to freak out when my mom didn't get up and didn't get up.  Finally she woke up, just as I was ready to go pound on the door and wake her up.  It appears her alarm didn't go off.  So, we were running late.  On top of that, the dog was so excited to go to the groomer that she didn't want to eat.  I had to sit right next to her bowl to get her to eat.

Finally, we got on the road and made it to the groomer....ten minutes late.  No big deal, I left a little extra time in the schedule.....until I got back in the car and started to drive and smell something.  Yes, on the way out of the vet's office where my dog gets groomed, I stepped in dog poop.  It was all over my shoe and the floor of the car.  We tried to use wet wipes to clean it up, but it just wasn't working.  So I had to race back home, driving with no shoe, to change shoes and Clorox wipe the car, all the while thinking about how I touched dog poop and hadn't washed my hands.

Running 45 minutes late, we finally got on the road to my mom's neurology appointment....and we hit construction.  We called ahead and let the doctor's office know we were running about five minutes late.  We finally got there, got signed in, they took my mom back for her test, and I sat in the waiting room with a book.  Thirty minutes later, the doctor came out to get me.  She let me know that there was a little problem, that my mom had a bit of an "episode", and they would have to reschedule the test.  Come to find out, the nurse placed my mom's foot, leg, and hand into pails of hot water (which weren't even clean come to find out) and left her, saying she'd be back in ten minutes or so.  Twenty minutes later, no one had come back.  My mom has the same genetic arrhythmia that I have and is on a beta blocker as well.  She also has mitral valve prolapse and her pulse runs low.  Putting her in the hot water dilated the blood pressure and set off the arrhythmia.  She started feeling dizzy, faint, and nauseous.  She screamed and pounded trying to get help.  No one came.

Finally, near blacking out, my mom crawled to the door, opened it and started screaming for help.  It was then that they finally found her.  She was gray, hyperventilating (which no one noticed or helped her stop until I came into the room), and her pulse and blood pressure were fluctuating all over the place.  They ended up calling an ambulance and sending her to the ER to get checked out.

Four-and-a-half hours later, my mom's pulse and heart rate had finally started to stabilize.  Her chest x-ray, blood tests, etc. had all come back clean, but the ER doc was still waiting to hear back from my mom's cardiologist to find out whether she should be kept overnight or sent home with a heart monitor.  Neither she nor I had eaten or drank anything since 8:00 am.  It was 3:00 pm.

My sister had called while we were in the ER to tell us that she had gotten flowers for Clinton's funeral.  I explained that we were in the ER.  She said she would leave her phone on if we needed anything.  When 2:30 rolled around, I knew I wasn't going to be able to make it back to pick up the dog from the groomer before they closed unless I left my mom by herself in the ER, which I didn't want to do given the circumstances.  So, I tried to call my sister, but she didn't pick up.  Her children are in college, so I called my nephew asking him if he could pick up the dog, explaining I was in the ER with "Grandma".  He made an excuse about not having gas in the car.  He never asked about "Grandma" or offered to get money from his mom or friends for gas or offer to try to catch a ride from a friend.  So, I called my niece.  She said she was rearranging the furniture and had to go into work in an hour.  She also did not ask about "Grandma".  So, I called my sister again, who was at work.  She said she would try to find someone and get back to me.  Twenty minutes later, she still had not called back.  I had to rush off, leave my mom in the ER, drive like a bat out of Hades through pouring rain, to try to get to the groomer before they closed.  My nephew called just as I was getting on the interstate, 30 minutes after I had talked to my sister.  I told him to nevermind, I was already on my way and I'd take care of everything myself as no one had seemed to want to help and I hadn't heard back any differently and couldn't wait any longer.  Needless to say, I wasn't very pleasant.  This is a constant in my family.  Everyone expects me to drop everything to take care of everything for them, but no one ever wants to help me or my mom or even just be there for us.

I called the groomer, in tears, and explained the situation.  She very kindly offered to stay late if she needed to.  I picked up the dog, tried to rush home through the rain with the dog on my lap (as I wasn't prepared to pick her up by myself), fed her quickly, prepared her crate, crated her, and flew back down to pick my mom up from the ER. She had called when I was halfway to the groomer, saying that they were going to send her home with a heart monitor.  By this time, I was sobbing hysterically, overcome by anger and stress, having a full blown anxiety attack and possibly emotional breakdown.  It was so bad, the nurse in the room with my mom could hear me through the phone.  The nurse was great.  She found out that my mom had not eaten since breakfast and quickly got her a menu to order food from the cafeteria.  (Thankfully, the cafeteria at that hospital has great food.).  By the time I got back, an hour-and-a-half later, my mom had been dressed, fed, outfitted with her heart monitor, and was waiting for me at the door, ending a six hour ER visit.  I still had to drive home, again, another 45 minutes, through pouring rain, in the dark.

Finally, at 7:00 pm, I had my mom settled, making a multitude of phone calls to be sure everything was taken care of for her classroom the following day, and I was able to grab something to eat and drink for the first time since 8:00 am.  I was physically and emotionally exhausted, yet still so amped up, anxious, and angry that I couldn't sleep.

I took my mom back to the hospital (another two hours of driving) to get her heart monitor removed on Wednesday.  She has an appointment with her cardiologist next week to go over the info from the monitor.  For now, she has canceled the neurology appointments and is waiting to find out what the cardiologist has to say.  She is tired, but otherwise fine, and went back to work Thursday.  I'm still trying to bring down all of the anxiety accrued over the weekend and first half of the week.  I was finally able to get a half-way decent sleep last night.  I'm hoping to get back on track and be able to read through everyone's back posts soon.  It should be interesting to go through all this with Rachel next week.  ; )


  1. First of all, I am happy to hear from you. However, I am so sorry about your week.

    I am so sorry for the loss of your brother's namesake. I can see where that would trigger you big time.

    I am not a fan of Indy racing but I was sad to hear of Dan Wheldon's death.

    Gosh, I really felt this post, for it sounds like days I have had as well (not recently). I could feel your stress coming thru that post.

    I hope your sleep cycle gets back on track and you begin to feel better. I know it takes a while for the anxiety to calm down once it spikes.

    You don't have to answer if you don't want to but I am curious if you live alone or with friends or with family. My Mom and I live together and that is another stigma I have to deal with.


  2. I live my mom as well. It makes me feel better that someone is with her and also helps us both financially. I know there is a stigma there, but I think dealing with the stigma is almost easier for me than dealing with the anxiety I have for her living alone. It goes back to the abuse issues coupled with her health issues, etc.

    Yeah...definitely a stressful week. Still doing my best to bring that anxiety level down. I know it will take a while though. Any one of these major things would have been enough to send my anxiety and depression into the stratosphere. It just seemed to end up a perfect storm of stressors and triggers. LOL

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  4. Yes, I have anxiety about my Mom living alone as well. I also have anxiety when I live alone (worse than usual). I completely agree with you about how it's easier to deal with the stigma rather than the anxiety.

    You and I are SO similar! I have never met anyone my age who lives a life so similar to mine.

    You really are a kindred spirit.

    I hope you feel better soon.


  5. OMG Kat! I can't believe all that you endured! You are a very strong, resourceful person to be able to handle all this!...not sure that I could have! I hope that you recognize, and give yourself credit for, being so strong and enduring all this!

  6. Thanks, Nancy. I'm still trying to come to terms with EVERYTHING. I still have issues thinking of the fact that I just "got through it" as a positive instead of focusing on all the things I could have done differently, or as my mind says, "better". I really appreciate your kind words and support. : )

  7. That is an utterly overwhelming set of circumstances. Anyone would have an anxiety attack after all of that. It is amazing you can even write.

    I'd be getting a referral for a new neurologist. I refuse to be seen anyplace where they've allowed something like that to happen. Negligence that put your mom in the ER. Really appalling.

    I'd be a wreck - you have a tremendous amount of courage and a strong will!
    Adventures in Anxiety Land

  8. LOL...It took me a couple of days before I was able to get to a point where I could write about it. I'm still dealing with some residual anxiety.

    I already told my mom that I didn't want her going back to that neurologist to get that test, that I didn't trust them as far as I could throw them (which as hyped up as I was at the time I probably could have thrown them pretty far). My sister works in the medical field and has had similar tests before. She said she has never had them "warm" her up for one.

    I take my mom to the cardiologist on Wednesday to go over the info from the heart monitor. Then we will have a better idea of what happened and where to go from here. Thanks for all the kind words. : )

    PS....That was not courage and strong will. That was stubbornness and anger. LOL


Please leave me a comment below. Feel free to share your stories and struggles with anxiety or those of your loved ones. Please show respect when doing so. : )