If you suffer from Anxiety and Panic Disorder like I do, you will find there are times of reprieve and there will be times it feels it’s never going to let up. It’s a roller coaster ride and sometimes we feel like the ride is completely out of control and there will be days that we feel ‘grounded,’ we were able to exit that ride for what ever reasons. Anxiety and panic attacks are as unpredictable as life and the story I continue to share, my husband’s health.
I’ve been writing about a diagnosis my husband received in March, he was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension and possible heart failure. I don’t want to make this story about me but when a loved one is ill it becomes about both of you because it affects each person differently.
My husband doesn’t suffer from Anxiety or panic disorder but he is human and suffers from fear right now. When I see he’s struggling to breathe or he asks me questions about his health- questions to which I have no answers, I know he’s scared and needs reassurance. I’ve been trying to be strong for my husband, I can’t let him down. My husband needs me emotionally and physically so I decided to go outside of my comfort zone and begin power walking again; something I haven’t done in over a year. I obviously don’t leave if he is having a hard time, I wait until his breathing has calmed down and take that walk.
We used to walk together but he’s unable to to do that with me this spring because walking causes major distress for him right now. The first time I walked alone this year, I had a panic attack on the track I walk. I remember a few tears streaming because it angered me and I my mind kept going there- stop… look how sick he is and you are feeling dizzy, really? Well those thoughts didn’t help but what did help? I thought of my mom who passed away 2 years ago and I remember saying out loud, “Mom, I miss you and I really need you right now, you know me better than anyone.” After I uttered those words, I heard her voice, “Lisa, slow down your walking… you’ve got this and I’m walking with you.” I slowed down and my dizziness began to dissipate.
It’s been a week and I’ve walked over 4 miles in 3 days since my panic attack on the track. I haven’t had a panic attack again and I believe it’s because I’m conditioning my brain and I’m determined that I can do this because I truly need to be strong for my husband. My daughter and I went for a long power walk tonight and it was relaxing. It makes such a difference if you suffer from panic disorder to go with someone because it takes your mind off of the redundant voices inside your head, those voices that keep whispering, “what if… oh my god, what if I pass out, what if I have to sit down because I’m too dizzy to keep going, what if I can’t make it back home?” Having someone to walk with and laugh with makes such a difference too. Again, it’s conditioning, just like we have to condition our bodies if they are not in good shape, we need to do the same for our brain if we’ve been in avoidance for some time.
After my daughter and I were done walking and I was on my way home, I reminded myself how lucky I am to have such a loving family, which included my granddaughter who accompanied us on our walk in her stroller. The innocence of children really helps us to see the world from their eyes, what a a wonderful world it is and how easy we can forget.
When I arrived home my husband was sleeping in his recliner in our den. Normally, he would be tinkering in the yard until dusk. I went in to check on him and I could hear his lungs rattling. I woke him and gave him his diuretic (it’s a water pill) because the fluid is backing up into his abdomen and lungs due to the Pulmonary hypertension and/or heart failure too. I wont lie, it scared me, you never get used to seeing someone you love struggle for air. He has a diuretic that was prescribed and I gave him his medicine. I also had him take a breathing treatment and finally he seemed to get some relief.
My love for my husband is stronger than my Anxiety and Panic Disorder and I’m determined to continue working on myself so I do not let him down, I can’t- his needs are so much more.
My husband will have a heart catherterization on May 24th. They will do a stress Echocardiogram on May 23rd to determine if there are issues with valves on the left side of his heart on May 23rd. We will know on May 23rd if he may need a stent which they can insert during the heart Cath. He may need more but they won’t know until the results of the Echo along with his heart Cath. By more I mean, there is a chance he may need bypass surgery. All the “what if’s” suck because we won’t know the outcome until he has his procedures. Even if you don’t suffer from Anxiety with panic disorder, the unknown is enough to cause anyone to feel anxious, including the patient; in this case my husband.
I’m trying to stay focused on the positive(s), my daughter will be with me the morning of her dad’s heart Cath and my son is flying to Pittsburgh from Colorado and will be with us on that afternoon. I will have my entire family with me while we await the final diagnosis which is not only reassuring but calming too. My grown children have a calming effect because they are talkative and have a great sense of humor; 2 necessary ingredients when we feel nervous. Together, we all make a great team for my my husband.
Tonight, I still grieve for my husband and our past, that past that wasn’t long ago. Two years ago we were both hiking up a Mountain in Maine and he guided me with patience while I felt anxious hiking up along boulders, now I am reminding him that we will be doing this again when he’s better, Maine is one of our favorite places to visit/vacation.
Holding on to faith along with love can pull us through some of the toughest of times, having family that gives support along with unconditional love completes that faith. As a family who loves each other unconditionally, we can conquer so much.
I will continue to work on my Anxiety and Panic disorder because my husband needs me; my children are my rocks. I am so thankful for all my blessings, we will get through this together and I am eternally thankful. I will continue my power walks, they are keeping me grounded and helping me to have more confidence in myself, I am stronger than my disorder. Repeat… “I am stronger than my disorder.” Together, as a family, we will be there for my husband, their dad, love is healing in many ways more than we can imagine.
I will never stop believing in the power of love.