About a year ago, my partner of 7 years had a health event where he lost consciousness, hit his head, fractured a couple of vertebrae in his neck, and was found to have some heart rhythm abnormalities. When the accident happened, I was there, saw it all, and had to call 911. He is/was a very healthy guy, 50, in shape, active, outdoorsy, with a good diet and a job that's maybe a 6 of 10 on a stressfullness scale. So this hit us out of the blue.
He has been working through his health issues with his drs. Things seem on track there. There are medications he takes now, and there may be more medical procedures on the horizon. Although he's doing ok now, in the 2 months following the event, I was in the position of being his sole caregiver. Both of our families live out of state and we don't have any kids.
About me: I have had some pretty bad spells of GAD and health anxiety in the past. I did the trips to the ER with supposed heart attacks, etc., which turned out to be panic attacks. I'm also youngish (late 30s and was late 20s st the time of the height if my anxiety troubles), active and healthy overall. When the panic attacks began to happen, it was a stressful time - grad school. I was in a tumultuous relationship, too, which I'm sure didn't help. Despite the (at times, very severe) anxiety attacks and anxiety ABOUT the attacks, I never got beyond taking 1/2 a Xanax when things got scary. It was enough to bring me back under control, especially if I had a good distraction, like a friend to call or be around, a mind puzzle, 0457 chat with some of my medical-field friends...Over a few years, the attacks were less frequent, less severe, and I did not think about potential future attacks anymore. I filled my last Xanax Rx in 2011, and have taken 1 pill between then and tonight.
I'm sure you can tell where this is going. My partner developed some sort of PTSD (undiagnosed, of course) from the accident and its associated health stuff. He sometimes awakes with a full on panic attack - he has also taken a ride in the ambulance to the ER when on a business trip that resulted in the anxiety catch-and-release program they have there :) It feels to him like he is dying/going crazy. He gets hot flash sorts of episodes and I bring him cold compresses to help that go away.
It goes without saying that I love him and was terrified when his accident happened. I'm worried about him having another heart problem or other health issue. I am afraid of losing him.
So when he has a panic attack, thinking it's something more, I first leap into action; bring cold towels, drinks of water, ready myself in case we need to go to the hospital or call the paramedics. It has, thus far, been an episode which subsides in 20 mins or so. But my inner fear demons are awake now. No longer are they laying dormant.
Luckily, well, sort of, my experience with panic 6-10 years ago gave me experience talking myself down, etc., but as soon as his attack is over, mine begins...the palpitations, the tremor, the queasy stomach.
I thought the "phase" of anxiety was over. I thought I had grown up. I thought I was in an emotionally healthy place in my life. I thought I was through with this BS. But I'm back in the thick of it. I'm so sad, so disappointed, so guilty, so afraid. And that ridiculous soundtrack of "what if, what if?" Is playing in my mind again. It's 2:15am, and here I am (again), post panic attack (again), dreading his next anxiety attack and mine.