Tag Archives: anxiety attack

Halloween Costumes

Halloween is almost upon us and I am making Halloween costumes for my grandchildren.  I am making a witch costume complete with hat, a cowgirl costume with sequins and a witch apron for my daughter.  It is so exciting to be able to do this for my daughter and granddaughters.

There was a time, however, when I never thought I would be able to sew again.  The time was the fall of 2002.  I was facing a hysterectomy and the possibility of ovarian cancer.  I had already been sick for three years from a mold exposure at work.  Not only was I facing the upcoming surgery and cancer scare, I was flying back to Dallas to have my surgery.  I don’t know what scared me the most the cancer or the surgery.  You see I had already developed an acute sensitivity to chemicals and an alarmingly long list of allergic reactions to medications.  Would I survive going through the surgery?  If I did survive the surgery but had cancer would I be able to tolerate the chemo drugs?

My mortality was starring me hard in the mirror.  My daughters were both in college.  What could I leave for them?  I had always sewn and created things from their clothes, my clothes, shirts for my husband and an assortment of dolls and other crafts.  A friend of mine had made this beautiful primitive angel quilt wall hanging.  I asked her to help me by going into the fabric store to by the pattern and all the necessary fabrics and notions.  If I wasn’t going to return from Dallas I could at least give each of the girls something that I had made especially for them.

The next week I set about laying out all the fabrics and cutting out the pattern pieces.  As I began the process of trying to choose which fabrics would be used with which of the angel pattern pieces I began to feel dizzy, my vision seemed to blur and my brain went into overdrive.  I had never experienced an anxiety or panic attack but I was having one then.  Tears flowed and I began to shake.  I was experiencing severe sensory overload.  This couldn’t be happening.  I quickly put everything back into a bag and put it away.  A few days later I made another attempt at laying out all the brightly colored and patterned fabric with the various pattern shapes for the quilt.  Once again, that panicky feeling came over me and again I began to cry and shake.

Dealing with depression had become a regular part of my life since becoming sick.  The thought of not being able to ever sew again began to sink in.  What was I going to do?  So much had already been taken away from me and now my one true creative outlet was gone as well.

I have read and been told that when your body is overloaded with toxins and the toxins cannot be excreted through the body in the normal pathways through the liver and kidneys, the toxins find other pathways including the brain.  I believe that this is what was causing the brain fog I was already experiencing as well as this new found discovery that visually looking at bright colors and shapes brought on anxiety and panic.

Four years later when my granddaughter was born I yearned to make something for her.  I desperately wanted to make her a dress.   I searched the internet for a very simple pattern that did not have a lot of pieces and required very little in the way of extras.  I ordered the pattern and a simple striped seersucker.  The fabric arrived and after washing it a few times to be sure I could tolerate it I began the process of making a dress.  I fought the anxiety of laying out basically only two pattern pieces on striped fabric.  Something that used to feel so natural and was so relaxing to me now felt awkward and made me nervous.  I managed to complete the task.  Since then I have gradually tried patterns that were a little more challenging and fabrics with more color.  I still won’t buy a pattern that requires a zipper.  I am literally terrified about putting one in.  I ordered a zipper with intentions of practicing on scraps of fabric.  The zipper still sits in its paper packaging.

Recently I was trying to read a blog that I wanted to follow.  I have tried more than once but cannot tolerate all the visual stimulation on the page.  The colors, the designs and all the material scattered across the page just sends me into a panic.  I have tried to keep this blog simple and hope that my webpage will also be calm and easy to navigate.

I keep trying to push through this craziness of visual sensory overstimulation.  I don’t know if it will ever go away but I am trying my hardest not to let it rule my life and take away things I once loved to do.  Below is a picture of the apron I just finished.  As you can see from the details, this took a lot to work out and get myself through with the colors, patterns, and shapes.

Daughter’s apron

Why did my face feel like it was being pulled apart?

Valentine’s Day 2001 was anything but romantic. I had been on the IV for a few days and the antifungal drug and oral antibiotic for close to a week. I had gone to work as usual…..Shortly around noon, my throat began to feel restricted. I tried to wait it out. Finally I phoned Dr. D. He suggested that I go to the emergency room. I drove myself to the hospital, which, I realize now, was probably not the smartest thing to do.  While waiting to be seen, I phoned Sarah. I asked her to pick up her father as soon as he got in from school and to drive him to meet me at the hospital emergency room.

The constriction in my throat began to get worse and I was beginning to have tremors. My face felt like it was being pulled apart. The ER doctor came in. I told him—in between spasms in my throat and face—that I was having an allergic reaction to one or more of the medications that I was taking. He asked what medications I was taking and why I had an IV line…..

The ER doctor had the gall to tell me that my reactions were not typical of allergic reactions. I was just having an anxiety attack.

Later the next day while Sarah was visiting and helping me make soup, I began having problems again.  In my book I continue to write:

Some of the same symptoms began while we were working on the soup. My throat began to get tight and feel constricted. We phoned Dr. D, and he told me to come to his office. Unfortunately, he was not in his local office. Sarah drove me about six miles to see him at his other office.

By the time we reached Dr. D’s office, I was beginning to have tremors. He ordered an EKG and had my blood sugar tested. My EKG was normal, as was my blood sugar level.

The tremors and spasms in my face and neck continued to get worse. This time, however, I also began to have tremors on the right side of my body. My right hand and leg would shake. During the spasms in my neck, I had difficulty breathing. The doctor’s staff would ask me questions. I would not answer right away so they would ask them again. I had no control over my body. I had to wait for the tremors and spasms to stop to answer questions. It was if I were riding a wave. I would have a spasm and tremors and then it would stop, only to start up again within seconds. It was almost like a seizure.

I was so frightened, and I hated that my Sarah had to see me in this state. I didn’t want to die here, not like this!

Dr. D ordered an ambulance to take me to the hospital. The tremors and spasms were getting out of control and I needed to be in a hospital setting. I remember hearing his nurse asking if he wanted lights and sirens. He responded yes! He wanted the ambulance there as soon as possible. Hearing the urgency in his voice only made me more terrified.       

I became increasingly sicker and had a fourth sinus surgery while in the hospital and developed so many problems that we had to stop most of my medications to see what was causing what.  I was on an oral antifungal, oral antibiotic and IV antibiotic.   After all this, I thought the worst was over and my journey towards wellness would begin.  I had no idea what was to come.   The tremors and the pulling apart feeling in my face (as if someone was taking my skin and stretching it over facial bones that were too big for it) soon came to be a common occurrence when I reacted to chemicals and molds.

It is because of the skeptics like the doctor in the ER on my first visit and those who know I have been sick but not really known what I have gone through that I have written my book.  There are still so many out there who do not believe mold can make you chronically ill and that there is such a thing as multiple chemical sensitivity.   I hope to have the final edits soon so that I can get my cover photos done and submit it.