lions and tigers and anxiety – oh my!

I have these seemingly random anxiety attacks from time to time that really, truly freak me out.

They start pretty much the same – I break out in a thick sweat, but it’s not particularly hot wherever I am, nor am I exerting myself at a high level. It’s mostly a head sweat, coating my forehead and dampening* what little there is of my hair.

Next, my chest starts to hurt. Sharp, piercing pains in my upper left or right chest, ones that I had to learn are not indicative of a heart attack because no matter what you see on TV, the vast majority of heart attacks in men do not start with a sharp, shooting pain. (If you feel like your chest is being crushed, that’s very likely to be a heart attack, unless something is actually crushing your chest at the time.)

The chest pain is what really gets my attention, but it’s the next part I really hate.  My bowels get real loose, real fast, and that causes all sorts of running around. Yeah, yeah, I know – TMI (Too Much Information for y’all that don’t know).

After my 3rd or 4th trip to the bathroom, I’ve worked myself up into a pretty good frenzy, and it’s super hard to come down from this whirlwind of pain, sweat, discomfort and emotion. These attacks, when they happen, are really scary.

This morning, I woke up like that.  Drenched in sweat, running for the bathroom, sharp pains on both sides of my chest. Intellectually I know this is not a heart attack, but emotionally I’m scared to fucking death that it is.

After a couple of hours, I called my doctor to see if they had any cancellations so I could get a same-day appointment – they’re on vacation. After another couple of hours, I decided to go to the closest urgent care clinic. I reassured them I wasn’t having a heart attack; they subsequently assured me I wasn’t having a heart attack. You’d think that would be enough to calm me down, but you’d be wrong. The doc said my heart & lungs sound just fine, but they ran an EKG (ECG?) anyway. The doc said it wasn’t fine, it wasn’t even good, it was “perfect.” She sent me home with a prescription to “chill, man.”

These episodes are really starting to bug me, which certainly can’t help but cycle them more often. I imagine they’re stress-related, but I can’t think what in the hell stress is triggering them – especially the one today because I was asleep when it started!! That’s not even fair!

These things suck and I wish they’d stop. Now.