I have a confession. I've basically been avoiding this place like the plague for a few weeks now. I wanted to post, and have been thinking about it but every time I decided to sit down and write, something else came up, or I just didn't feel like it. It's been kind of a roller coaster of emotions for me lately, and that's never fun to write about in what is supposed to be a fun, upbeat type of place.
A little over a month ago, I posted an update about the results of my bloodwork, telling about the latest plan for having an MRI to assess the situation. After having to reschedule, I was able to complete the MRI on Friday, August 8th, and received a call the following Wednesday from a nurse saying there was a cancellation for the next morning and the doctor wanted me to come in to discuss the results. I was scheduled to be at a meeting an hour and a half away that Thursday, BUT...when you get that kind of call, you do what you have to do to be there.
Thankfully, Alex was able to rearrange things at work to come along in case the news was something really big. As it turned out, I have a microadenoma on my pituitary, which is a really long way of saying that I have a benign tumor growing in my brain (on the organ that produces hormones and regulates body systems). The "micro" (small) and "benign" (non-cancerous) parts are good, but the tumor itself is causing my pituitary to overproduce the hormone prolactin, which prevents me from ovulating, and therefore having amenorrhea (missed/irregular periods). AHA - it all makes sense!
Anyway, I was prescribed 1.25 mg of bromocriptine, which is supposed to slow or halt the growth of the tumor, (hopefully) resulting in the resumption of ovulation and regular menstruation. Due to some extreme warnings listed on the medication, I started taking it on a Friday night, with plans to go easy on myself over the course of the weekend. I was scheduled to attend a conference in New Orleans starting that Tuesday and figured I could work my way back to normal activity by then.
To make a long story short(er), I experienced a panic attack while driving to New Orleans the night before the conference. I'm calling it a panic attack, because it's the best way to describe what I experienced based on what I learned after it all happened. All I can say is that it was the most terrifying experience and I hoped I'd never feel that way ever again. If my friend and her husband hadn't been just 15 minutes away at the time, I'm not certain I wouldn't have been found on the side of the road unconscious...or worse.
Thanks to a team of really generous folks, several people stepped in to help me get to the conference, retrieve my car, and get both me and the car safely back home (5+ hours away) at the end of the week. I chalked the situation up to the medicine and unfamiliar driving territory, thinking I was out of the woods and would be fine from then on.
However, exactly 10 days later, I experienced yet another panic attack. For some reason (more familiar area, closer to an area where I could pull off, daytime, something else?), this "spell" was not as severe as the first one. I did have to call in reinforcements once again, and was practically terrified to drive, as a result. I even had Alex come with me to practice driving to West Monroe a few days later, and though I made it there...I didn't feel like I could drive home, so he took over after that.
Since then, the doctor agreed to allow me to decrease my dosage to 1/4 of a pill. (I was already taking 1/2 of the 2.5 mg pill, which is the smallest it comes in.) I also managed to drive two and from work every day this week, which is a 30 minute drive, and no small feat for someone dealing with this degree of anxiety. Fortunately, I became more confident and secure with each passing day. I don't know if it was the decreased dosage or my ability to cope with sense of fear and anxiousness, but I'm grateful that I can at least participate in my typical routine.
I will say I asked Alex to meet me at a gas station about 10 minutes from home yesterday because severe thunderstorms caused my feelings of anxiousness to increase to the point that I didn't feel safe driving anymore....but by the time he got there, I had recovered enough to make the drive for myself with him following in the vehicle behind me. For those of you who have never experienced anything like this, it really is hard to describe. It's not just fear, it's the body's physical response as well. I'm talking about a sense of impending doom, loss of control, dizziness, heart-racing, tingling hands, shortness of breath, nausea...the list goes on. It's just awful, and I would never wish those feelings on anyone.
So thinking about writing about this has been very difficult for me. In fact, I can feel the tears welling up as I read over what I have written here. To some degree, I'm embarrassed, and feel like I'm crazy for even making this out to be as big as I have. Is it psychological? Maybe. Is there maybe some PTSD left over from the first experience? Maybe? How do I fix it? I don't know.
I do know this is something I won't be able to "fix" overnight, and it may take quite a while to work through. It's frustrating because I have spent so much time on the road over the years, driving myself from wherever I was living at the time, home for holidays, summers, to see friends, you name it. The thought of not being able to hop in the car and drive home for the weekend, or to help Alex make the 14 hour drive east to visit his parents...that's just totally unfair. What about the countless days I have to travel for work, much less the times I'm supposed to be transporting kids in my car? How's that going to work? I just don't know.
If you're still reading, thanks for your patience; I know this was a long one. I'd really appreciate it if you kept me in your prayers and just remember..."perception is reality." No matter what this is, it's real for me. Acknowledge my feelings, be patient, and let me know that it's all going to be okay...