This is a three part series with a finale fourth that isn’t titled Overcoming. Also, feeling weird that I'm doing a blog series. Or a blog about something serious. Series-ous. ;)
This has a whole lot to do with why I have taken a long time-out from Connar Joy Calligraphy.
July 20, 2017: a day that sparked a major sea-change in my life.
This is an entry post, just to tell you what's been going on in my life over the past 12 months. No words of wisdom, or encouraging revelations here. Just the facts.
After work on July 20, 2017, I was heading to Austin with four friends from work for a fun weekend of Silos, segways, and so much food. It was my first time going on a trip with these friends, and I was excited to get to know them better. I had been doing the whole work all day at my job, then work all night on this business thing for a while, but it was getting a little too intense. I had been feeling tightness in my neck and shoulders, constant dizzy spells, rapid heart rate, and had been running on a solid 3-5 hours of sleep every single night for months. Of course, the weeks and days leading up to the trip, I had been feeling extremely dizzy, but chalked it up to lack of sleep. On July 20th, I was at work and feeling unusually dizzy and disoriented- but it would only last for about a minute at a time. Warning? Obviously. Did I listen to that warning? Obvs not. I legitimately just thought I needed to get a good night's sleep and all would be good.
We got in the car after work and headed to Austin. About an hour into the drive, I couldn't take the feeling of being car sick. I felt like I was on the Superman ride at Six Flags. It felt like I was "dropping." Up and down. Up and down. I held it in for a while, but finally admitted to the rest of the car that I felt sick. We pulled over to a gas station where I almost passed out, but luckily, I didn't. I continued to get more and more dizzy, and my chest was so tight that I thought I was having a heart attack. Next thing I know, we have decided to book it to Sweetwater (about 2 hours from Lubbock), to get me to the emergency room. I texted my dad to meet me there and that's pretty much the last thing I could do. I couldn't get a breath. I began to hyperventilate. I remember the last word I whispered before my body completely spasmed: "hurry." My eyes, mouth and hands were twitching uncontrollably. I tried for as long as I could to keep my eyes open, because I thought the minute I closed them, I was likely to die. I couldn't keep them open any longer. My eyelids locked shut. My mouth clenched shut. No matter how hard I tried to open them, I couldn't. My fingers, hands and wrists were contorting in the most painful spasm- I couldn't get them unclenched. It kept spasming tighter and tighter, I thought my bones were breaking. I could do nothing. I could say nothing. I remember pleading in my head for the Lord to spare my life. Over and over again. It wasn't peaceful. I could hear my friends trying to find the entrance to the Sweetwater, TX emergency room. (SIDENOTE: DO NOT EVER GO THERE IF YOU CAN HELP IT. THE LIVING WORST.) There was panic all around, yet their voices were so comforting and calming to me. In my mind, I was going to die. I didn't know what was going on. I had never experienced anything like this in my life. My final thought before I was being wheeled into the ER was "how are they going to tell my nieces that Kiki is dead?" Yiiiiikes haha. So, about 54 unsuccessful IV attempts later, I was being pumped with all the things to get my muscles to relax. 30 minutes later, I was able to start to open my eyes. I saw my amazing, sweet, strong and caring friends standing around me. I saw the 14* year old doctor. I saw the 18* year old murse walk in and say my Potassium is at an extremely low 2.3 (should be a 3.5-5 at all times). My parents got there about 30 minutes after that. Things weren't great.
So, like, obviously, I didn't end up going to Austin.
Next up, came the "episodes" -- these were panic attacks 6-8 times a day that would last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. We didn't know they were panic attacks at the time. My doctor did not think what happened to me that day or any of the days after could possibly be related to anxiety, so I had every test under the sun done. All levels were coming back fine. I wore a heart monitor for 10 days and it was fine. Did a stress test, two EKGs, an MRI on my brain, pulmonary function tests, all the labs. Everything was fine.
First diagnoses: Vertigo and Hyperventilation Syndrome. First, what in the world? I get the vertigo thing because I was v dizzy all the time. But I only hyperventilated the one time on July 20th when I LITERALLY thought I was about to close my eyes and DIE. Obviously you don't breathe well when you're high-key dying. Long story short, I hyperventilate all the time, even when I don't realize it. Finding that out was really cool. The hyperventilating is what caused my full body spasm and Potassium and Magnesium to get so low.
Next diagnoses: Panic Disorder. How fun is that to admit out loud?! I thought I had a little bit of anxiety before, but I'm telling you right now, it was NOTHING compared to the inner turmoil that has been weighing me down the past year. I am constantly feeling nauseous, my chest is always tight, I black out and see floaters in my eyes daily, my breathing is shallow, I have a permanent pit in my stomach, and I get dizzy often. That's anxiety. Panic attacks are different. They hit hard and fast. And they are no joke. With each one, I have gotten better with coping, but that doesn't mean I don't feel like I'm about to fall over and die at any given moment.
Feeling super vulnerable here, sharing my panic disorder with the world. But, maybe more people are in the same boat as me. I take medication. Hopefully it’s not forever, but I’ll take it as long as it helps me. I went to a few counseling sessions in the Fall of 2017 to try to help. I douse myself in Young Living’s Stress Away essential oil. And I cut caffeine as much as possible, which if we’re being honest, was the worst part because I love Diet Coke more than I think you know. Also, I try to get more than 6 hours of sleep.. workin’ on that one still because I’m a night owl all the way.
Hey, thanks for reading all that. Now you know just the facts of what is up with me haha. It’s a REALLY fun time let me tell ya. But my next blog posts are about coping and overcoming and faith and strength. I really hope you keep up!