[personal profile] tj_rowe

I saw the new doctor about three weeks ago, and the psych guy about a month ago, and the meetings with both of them reassured me that we could have a change in how my treatment was being managed - namely, trying to find things that will help me, without ignoring my feelings and experience or trying to put me into a narrow box.

I wrote the letter to the psych guy, saying that having everything being put down to some nebulous 'anxiety' was making me feel very boxed in, and that I could discuss actual anxiety things because it was just being taken as further evidence that everything was anxiety - despite my having been ill for at least two and a half years, and having to adjust to the idea that that will continue indefinitely if no-one is actually helping me, and that being a fairly rational thing to worry about.

Generally, if I'm worried about a thing, my first response is to either try to fix the problem, or pretend that it doesn't exist until I can. Or shut down and be useless until that pressure is alieviated somewhat.

Last term, after the end-of-Easter appointment with Dr. Griffith, I did pretty much shut down with regard to anything difficult. I was convinced that I was never going to be diagnosed correctly and get help, and it was only due to the fact that 'eat meals' has been throughly drummed into me again that I didn't repeat my third year and wait for myself to starve to death. (I may be failing at it again, a bit - good food costs money, and I can't spend money, because that would be, IDK, immoral or something. So I've been drinking tea when I'm hungry, and the nausea-causing medicine doesn't help.)

But any way, the point of this post.

I just had another short dizzy turn - one of those where I'm suddenly very warm, the strength leaks out of my limbs, and I just want need to lie down for a bit and breath and draw strength back into myself.

It made me think about Auras. Not the magical kind, the body's warning that it's about to do something fucking weird, like have a seizure, dizzy spell, migraine, whatever. Different people get different sorts, or none at all. Sometimes animals, trained or untrained can 'sense' the changes in a person associated with an aura, and alert them. When I was staying with Steve's parents, a bit thing that helped me was that right before I had a dizzy spell or 'stop' (the funny turns when suddenly I couldn't move anything except to blink, breathe, and occaisionally swallow), their dog, Tia, would run up to me crying and try to climb on me (and she wasn't small), alerting me so that I could sit down somewhere more sensible than the kitchen floor.

Now, back then I was convinced that I was a worthless waste of space and couldn't really be having any sort of seizure-like thing (my doctor going 'that's not how it works!' and looking utterly incredulous at my clumsy attempts to explain what happened during funny turns really didn't help...), and so I must be 'putting it on' 'for attention'. After all, I could move conciously after a certain amount of time being stuck, right? (Well, duh, when an attack ends, it ends!), so I managed to convince myself (after it occurred to me that Tia was alerting for me) that she wasn't really alerting - she would want attention because she's a dog, and then my knowledge of how dogs alert would drive me to fake a 'seizure' right then!

The utter rubbish. So, I started doing the stupidest possible thing - trying to 'catch myself out'. I wouldn't sit down when my body temperature spiked (such that it was noticeable to anyone sitting near me), or when Tia cried at me, I would soldier on and prove to myself that there wasn't actually anything wrong with me (because if my doctor didn't think so, she much be right!).

As you might expect, this ended up with me waking up on the floor of places that I didn't want to be on the floor of (especially not on my face), such as the kitchen, supermarket, shower-room - and once very nearly on one of the dogs (I managed to twist enough while I was falling to not land on her, though) - when I could have just sat into a chair that would support me, had the funny turn, and then got up and on with things. It was always harder to recover after I tried to push through it, too - often wasting half a day with the recovery and not being able to walk in a straight line during that. I do just put myself into a chair or on the floor when I feel it coming on, now, and it's fairly painless that way.

But the conversation with the new doctor brought up another point - he mentioned that sometimes you can't tell whether Thing A is causing Thing B, Thing B is causing Thing A, or Things A and B are being caused by Thing C that we're not currently aware of. I'm not sure who brought that up - I think it was in the context of depression and fatigue. Because, yes, fatigue is a symptom of depression, but on the other hand, being fatigued all the time can be pretty damn depressing. And sometimes your vitamin levels are so low that you can work up the energy to Do Things or to Be Happy.

Naturally, I eventually brought that thought out of its original context, and started thinking about anxiety. And auras.

Now, when my limbs go weak, my vision goes dark, and I often end up on the floor, I very rarely drop things. This is because by the time I 'go', I'm not holding anything, because my mind has given me enough warning to put that full mug of water down (unless I'm sitting with the mug resting on me, not exerting myself to hold it. Then it ends up in my lap). I'm not sure how to describe the feeling, but it's along the lines of 'DOOM! IMPENDING DOOM!' and is stronger (and lasts longer before) the worse that the attack is going to be.

When I fainted on a train to York just before Wakefield and was out for a little while, I was in tears from how 'irrationally' scared I was travelling to the train station* a couple of hours before, and I was incredibly jumpy and nauseus through the first part of the journey. I decided I needed to walk a bit and have a sandwich (this was before I went wheat-free, in my second year of Uni), got over-hot walking down to the snack car but put that down to the number of people, and the world melted in front of my eyes as soon as I got to the front of the queue. I woke up as the snack-car-lady was using the emergency phone to call First Aid from the other end of the train.

I did get to tell my dad, twenty minutes later when he rang to say 'bye, getting on the plane now' that at least I hadn't made them all have to miss the holiday by fainting by the departure gate.

Last Christmas, or just before, I blamed my heart-stopping anxiety on the drama of the time, and my brain chemistry. My body wasn't literally screaming at me, except for when I opened my mouth and let it, but I could imagine it all too clearly. I did manage to make an appointment with the doctor for before the end of term, but only because the receptionist on the other end of the phone could hear how desperate I was to make it stop by any means that I could. Things were getting treacleyer and treacleyer for me as I waited on hold and then forced my mouth to say words and my ears to understand, but then I collapsed for about an hour. Then came back, walked unsteadily to the kitchen for water, sat, and collapsed again. I think it was dark, or darkening, when I woke up the second time.

I've always assumed, in some way, that when I hit a block in speech or movement, it was because I'd been winding myself up with anxiety and then just tripped over it - after all, I was fine afterwards, like the trip had kicked me out of the destructive spiral. Now, I wonder if the anxious build-up could be forwarning for the trip or block or funny turn, instead of its cause?

I have the funny turns still - they've settled down a lot though. Instead of every couple of days of varying strengths, they're pretty much every two weeks and fairly mild - the one right before the exam that I missed was fairly severe, possibly because I was fighting it so hard. (Exams are more important than health, don'tcha know? It's not like there's a half-hour entry window or anything that, in hindsight, I could have taken advantage of if I'd rested and still had time...) The one today was about ten minutes, and I lay on my bed, a bit too curled up maybe, feeling hot and sick and like my limbs probably wouldn't obey me if I tried to move them. Two weeks ago was in Darlington, and I was helped to the floor when I asked as I felt the wave of hot fog fill the space behind my eyes, and I sat there, limp, for about twenty minutes until it passed, and someone brought me water to sip while I recovered.

*which was supposed to be travelling to the airport to go to America with my parents, but I assumed that the fearfearfear was down to that and begged them to not make me go and break down in a foreign country with a crappy medical system - I didn't know what would happen, just that it was bad.

Date: 2011-08-01 04:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clericalkender.livejournal.com
"Now, I wonder if the anxious build-up could be forwarning for the trip or block or funny turn, instead of its cause?"

Sounds very possible. I know Paul gets weird body-stuff happening before his migraines, and the fact-sheet the doctor gave him about that says that a DOOM! sense is one of the more common variants that people get. It was also taught on my first-aid course as a common symptom of impending heart-attack. I have no idea how that works, but human bodies are *smart*, and they often know when something's wrong.

When I've been out in the sun too long I often get a weird sort of effect on my vision that warns me I need to take a paracetamol and drink water and find shade NOW! or I'll get a headache that will knock me out all day and might make me sick as well. Took me a few years as a teenager to recognise the connection, but I've never got that bad since I did because I can avoid it by paying attention to the warning signs.

The way I understand it, the warning doesn't cause the ill, and the ill doesn't exactly cause the warning, it's just that the warning bit is an earlier symptom of whatever is causing the ill. I've generally assumed that funny vision is just an early symptom of sunstroke, and a useful one because it doesn't hurt or incapacitate and if you catch it there it doesn't have to get any worse.

((Medical bit: not too involved but warning for possible freak-out-ness))

In the migraine case, the doctor at the hospital explained that the aura is caused by blood vessels in the brain constricting, which can cause all sorts of things like losing control of limbs, pins-and-needles, impeded or distorted senses, and forgetting how to speak. Then the headache is caused by things returning to normal, and the blood getting back in.

((End of potentially icky bit))

Regardless of what causes what, if there's a correlation at all it sounds like you're doing a sensible thing to just lie down somewhere safe when the warning things start. Potentially wasting a few minutes of your time is much better than potentially falling over and getting hurt.

Short version: I think you're right.

Date: 2011-08-03 06:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spikeygrrl.livejournal.com
I get anxiety before I have stomach problems. I also get it when I have an allergic reaction to a drug. I think it's very likely that anxiety to could be an early warning system in your case too.


Tamar Joshua Rowe

August 2011

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