First I wanted to start out by saying that Anxiety Zone has been a saving grace for me in my own battle with anxiety, hypochondria, and the occasional panic attack. I mainly visit the hypochondria boards when I'm on here. But, today I'm vising the Panic and Agoraphobia board about my husband.
Some back story - my husband and I got married almost 2 years ago. 3 months after we were married he started having horrendous headaches. They were so bad that he landed in the ER. They did a CT scan and saw nothing wrong. They said it was migraines and gave him migraine medicines. About a week later and giving the migraine medicines time to work (which they didn't) he visited his PCP. His PCP wanted to send him to an ENT wondering if there was something else causing them. He went to the ENT who saw nothing wrong on the original CT that was sent to him and gave him different migraine meds to use. At this point he had already been suffering for 3 months. He had a second trip to the ER where they did a second CT scan. That one showed up clean. They gave him heavy duty narcotics and a pat on the back. A couple of weeks later he went back to his PCP. The PCP still wasn't convinced that there wasn't something in his sinuses or something going on. So, he sent my husband to a different ENT for a second opinion. By this point the headaches had been going on for 5 months solid! This ENT walked in the office, pulled up the ORIGINAL CT scan, laughed, and said "I'm a Dr., so I can't say that this is 100% your problem, but if I were to put a wager on it, it would be a pretty big one". On the original CT scan (from 5 months prior) he showed us a HUGE bone spur in hubby's nose that was literally pressing on his sinus passages. The ENT scheduled surgery. Almost 6 months to the day of his first headache he had surgery and the headaches never returned. This was from July - December of 2012. It was a really hard time for him because he spent much of his time in bed (and he had to miss a lot of work because of it)
February 2013 - we found out I was pregnant with our first child together!!
Fast forward to March 2013. Hubby noticed that he he started having some weird tingling in his left hand ring finger. It was off and on so he didn't really think anything of it. He started (over the month or so) getting some pains in his arm. At first he was thinking it was probably a pinched nerve. He finally decided to see the PCP about it in July 2013. The PCP said it sounded like classic carpal tunnel. He sent him to a specialist to get it tested. The specialist ran the test and said it wasn't carpal tunnel but that it was something wrong in one of his vertebrae. He suggested that hubby visit a neurologist for further testing. By this time, hubby was losing use of his left arm. Our PCP sent him to a pain management place since he had started to have numbness and great pain. The pain management guy did spinal shots to try to help and put him on narcotics. Then, hubby went to a neurologist. In order to see what was going on, the neurologist had to send my husband for a Myelogram. This test involves doing a lumbar puncture and xray simultaneously. So he had it done. When the results were in, he went to the neurologist fully expecting to be getting a surgery date set. However, the neurologist said he saw absolutely nothing in his spine that would be giving him the symptoms he was having. We were absolutely devastated. By this time, it had been 7 months since the pain first started and I had just given birth to our son. My husband was barely able to hold the baby while sitting down, let alone pick him up. The neurologist wanted to send my husband to some kind of scientist to have a second carpal tunnel test done. At this point, my husband was completely defeated. Not only was he not able to spend time with my older two kids, but he was missing out on so many things with being a first time dad. So, in January of this year he went for the second carpal tunnel test. It came back glaringly positive. It was at this time that he went to his PCP to get on anti-depressants. He spent so much time crying in our bedroom that I encouraged him to get something to help him over the hump. Luckily what the Dr gave him kicked in within a week. He was referred to a hand surgeon. March 3 of this year (one YEAR after it all started) he had his hand surgery. We had no clue what to expect by way of the recovery. He's lost nearly all strength in his left hand and so while the pain of the carpal tunnel is gone - he has the pains of having to regain strength. He's still unable to pick up our now 6 month old baby.
That brings me to now. At his past 4 appointments (pre-surgery and post surgery) the nurses noted that his blood pressure has been high and that they recommend that he see his PCP about it. He was supposed to go in this past tuesday for a consult about it.
However, this past Monday he started feeling tightness in his chest. He was having a hard time breathing. He was hyperventilating and he passed out on our bedroom floor. My VERY first reaction was that he was having a panic attack. However, I called 911 because I knew he had a history with high blood pressure. They gave him ativan and morphine at the hospital and nothing was helping. At one point in the ambulance, his BP was 201/160!!! Over the course of the next 48 hours (they admitted him to the hospital) they did 3 EKG's, 6 rounds of blood tests for heart enzymes, gave him baby aspirin, nitro patches, a chest x-ray....they said that his heart checked out well and there were no signs of a heart attack. About 8 hours after he passed out in our room, he FINALLY had relief from the chest pain/tightness and shortness of breath. While he was in the hospital he had, probably, 8 more "episodes" - none of which were as bad as the original one. They started him on a blood pressure medication to control his blood pressure. When he was discharged on Wednesday the Dr also wrote him a prescription for Atarax? My husband said something so telling in the hospital, though. He said "if I could just get my brain to shut off, I'm almost positive the chest pain would stop".
I was able to get him an appointment with his PCP on Thursday. Between his discharge Wednesday and appointment on Thursday he had 3 "episodes". His PCP (who you can see has been right about his other things) said that he is fairly certain that hubby is having panic/anxiety. He decided to lower his anti-depressant dosage (theorizing that the anti-anxiety properties of it may actually be having the reverse effect) and he gave him a prescription for Klonopin. Hubby's panic attacks seem to come out of no where. Yesterday was the first one that he had chest pains with it since the hospital. And this morning I woke up to him sitting on the side of the bed holding his chest and hyperventilating. He had been woken up by a panic attack. The attacks seem to be less in frequency (12-15 hours between them), but the intensity is horrific! I know that getting the right medications is a game of trial and error. He doesn't seem to think that the klonopin is working, so I know that's frustrating for him. All he wants when he's in the middle of one is something to turn his brain off, and I can't blame him. I've " been there done that".
As a person who has had anxiety and panic attacks that have landed me in the hospital, I completely empathize with him. It breaks my heart to see him having to struggle with them. He'll cry while he's having one and say that he has no idea why they started or where they came from. I have lightly mentioned counseling to him. Seeing a counselor was the best thing I have done and played a direct role in my being able to manage my panic and anxiety. However, I don't want to push it on him. When he's in the middle of an episode, I try to relax him (slowly scratch his back or his legs), I talk to him and tell him that his last one passed and this one will too, or try to talk about meaningless stuff to get his brain distracted (movies, my school stuff, the weather...anything).
I'm not sure why I'm writing really. Have any of you been through this? Any of you going through it? Any words of encouragement about what I can do to help him?
He mentioned last night that he didn't want to have to go to a Psychiatrist because he doesn't know what he would talk about. He feels like he should be able to pinpoint what triggered all of this, yet he can't and so it's aggravating for him. Another telling symptom is that when he's in th midst of one he talks about the loss of control and how he feels like he should be able to control it but he can't.