My name is Nicole. I'm 25 years old and live in centeral Pennsylvania.
Though I've been a nervous/anxious person my entire life...always been the type to worry and stress a bit too much, have thoughts of dread, etc., a panic attack here and there, I consider myself new to anxiety because I'm new to the intolerable level of anxiety I started experiencing in early July of this year.
In late June I got bitten by a coworker's cat, that I was watching in my home while she went on vacation, wasn't too worried about it, went to the ER and got tetanus updated and was put on antibiotics. However the ER doc asked me about the cat's vaccination status and mentioned rabies, I started panicking. As far as my coworker knew, the cat was up-to-date, but all she had to go on was the word of the people she had gotten the cat from back in November. So, I wasn't very reassured, and I started panicking. I've had an intense fear of rabies since I watched this one tv program as a child. I knew it was unlikely that the cat had rabies, so I tried to brush it off and I thought the anxiety would pass in time. I just tried to push it down, got through the week, and gave the cat back to my coworker. However, on July 4th I was just doing my normal thing at work and all of a sudden I had chest pain followed by extreme dizziness. We got me into the break room and I ate some crackers and drank some water. We assumed it was low blood sugar, since this was only 30 minutes before break. I was nervous and trembling, but I got through lunch and tried to go back to work, only to have it happen again. They sent me home. I still felt like crap the next morning, super weak and dizzy with dry mouth, and thought maybe I was severely dehydrated from the diarrhea caused by the antibiotic I'd been on from the cat bite, so my boyfriend took me to the ER and they hooked me up on an IV and did blood work just to be safe. They said I was only mildly dehydrated but that my heart rate and blood pressure were kind of high. They said I should just keep drinking Gatorade and I should feel better in a few days, but to come back if I felt worse. With the reassurance, I felt a bit better and went to work that evening...only to overhear my coworker telling her friend that she had found a dead bat in her cat's room upon returning from vacation. That sent my panic into overdrive. I couldn't sleep that night. My limbs felt weak, I was trembling and dizzy, etc.
Went back to the ER the next morning, they did more blood work and my WBC was just a little bit elevated so they said I probably caught some sort of virus. Of course my panicked brain went straight to rabies, and I told them about the bat. Since by then it was obvious that the cat had been vaccinated, it was unlikely that I had been exposed to the virus, but I was convinced that maybe the cat had killed the bat before coming into my house and biting me, and maybe the germs from the bat had the virus in it and she could have transferred the virus without actually having it herself. It sounds silly, I know, but I was scared to the bones and logical thinking just wasn't happening then. But to my (temporary) relief, the doctor said that what I had right then couldn't be rabies because it was too early for me to be showing symptoms, but he was going to start rabies vaccines anyway just to be safe. It calmed me down a bit, but not much, because throughout the week I started feeling much, much worse. I had nearly constant double vision, chest pains, insomnia, dry mouth, weakness, etc. I ended up going to the ER several more times that week because I didn't have a family doctor at that time. By the end of the week I would show up, they would "examine" me and then give me a shot of Ativan and send me on my way and tell me to find a family doctor.
I found one and he had blood work done, my WBC came up very elevated so he put me in the hospital for testing. I had CT scan, MRI, EKG, ECG, more blood work, spinal tap to examine fluids...just about everything, and everything came back normal. They concluded that my weakness and tremors were caused by anxiety, but that I was also having an a bad reaction to the rabies vaccines which was causing the elevated WBC. I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and sinus tachycardia. I was put on a beta blocker to control the heart rate and blood pressure, and they gave me Ativan to take until a psychiatrist could see me and prescribe something better.
I'm now on Zoloft, working my way up to 50mg and decreasing the Ativan in the meantime. I have a lot of stress and anxiety right now, especially health anxiety, but I'm sleeping slightly better and I'm able to get out of the house (actually, I get out of the house as much as possible because I find that it helps). I break down and cry every now and then, actually more like every other day, which I hate but I let myself do it because I've found that crying it out helps lower my stress and blood pressure haha. I'm still in the assessment phase of therapy and I just really want to get the ball rolling so I can get back to my normal self, even though sometimes I get down and feel like I'll always be like this.
I joined this forum hoping to learn from others and find friendship/support.