Monday, September 5, 2016

C-PTSD Diary: Parsing Anxiety

Sunday started to perfectly and then … disaster.
The day broke to a cloudless sky so I decided to walk through the park and over the bridge to the Simon’s store in Park Royal; it meant a nice four-hour walk, there and back. I was out the door at 10:30 am.
However, only 20 minutes into my walk I fell and hurt by elbow and split a finger open. To keep the blood off my clothes, I headed for a nearby pharmacy for some badages when my friend Doug saw me. He took me to his house to clean and bandage my cuts and then we got to chatting on his balcony where he served us a delicious lunch.
It was wonderful. I felt part of a community given the serendipitous nature of it all. And then I said goodbye and set to continue my walk — but not to Park Royal. The fall had shaken me up so I decided to just meander in the city on quiet sunny streets.
Walking in the sunshine was heavenly — particularly watching the dogs play in the dog pool near my place and talking with their owners.
I want to remember yesterday forever. It was a perfect day and I wanted to use its memory as an antidote to my episodic escape fantasies. The seawall is an unparalleled resource for a walker like me as is my intimate knowledge of this city.
After about an hour of walking near the water I saw a bench that looked perfect for a rest. It was shaded in dappled sunlight. I sat down and almost immediately slipped into a mild seizure. As I sat through it, I wondered whether it was due to the fall I’d had.
Once it was past, I set off again and walked happily for another hour and then I saw another bench that looked ideal for a rest. Perhaps after only enjoying the shade for a minute, I had another seizure. This one was like the earlier one; they were mild.
I felt it was a man’s loud music nearby that triggered me. He was playing loud angry banger music, the opiate of the disenfranchised. Seizure #2 passed as all my seizures do, fairly quickly, but it was odd to have two seizures so close together on a day when I felt so happy.
Clearly, it was time to go home and take my medications. I headed for home but I’d only gotten about a block along the seawall when I was overcome with yet another seizure (#3) and when it was over I wondered how I was going to get home. I was now in such a heightened state, I sensed I was in real trouble.
So I called Dwight believing having a conversation with him could ground me. He talked me down and when I said I felt better, he suggested that I try walking home whilst talking with him and that seemed like an excellent idea.
I got perhaps ten meters when I felt seizure #4 coming on. This one was a doozie — a full on mightily convulsive thrasher, by far the worst seizure I have ever had. I remember dropping the phone.
An emergency physician was on me in seconds, pinning my arms down and putting padding around my head. I could not open my eyes; the light hurt. And soon two ambulances arrived, sirens blaring, and their many EMTs.
My speech was shite. I could only say the odd word, but Dwight called me on my phone and the Emergency doctor got a lot of information from him. I did everything in my power to dissuade the paramedics. I just wanted to go home but I knew it would mean crawling on my hands and knees. I felt totally fucked, so off we went to St. Paul’s emergency ward.
At about 5:15 the seizing stopped. The fourth seizure had lasted two hours. I was soaking wet with sweat and exhausted but my condo was right across the street. Home felt so close.
The charming doctor asked me what caused me to fall earlier in the morning. I said I was clumsy. We talked about my seizures and he asked me how often I had days like the one I was having and I told him it was my first so he said he wanted to do an ECG.
Ten minutes later, he told me he believes I may have fallen because of a problem revealed in my ECG. From my records he knows that the cardiac condition was present on April 9th when I was admitted at the onset of my PTSD crisis, but it was not present in previous testing. (I had a heart attack around 1990 so there is lots of cardiac history in my medical records.)
This week I’m going to my GP whose been sent a note from the hospital about a valve in my heart. He will guide my follow-up on that score. Tomorrow I see Dr. Shoja at 10:00 am, and thank God for that. My confidence in my ability to cope with life has been badly damaged. Her insight and guidance will be a welcome salve.

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