Sunday, November 09, 2008


Shortly after I met Sugar D, I started having horrible gastrointestinal attacks. I'd been having gastrointestinal complaints for a couple of years already, but after I met Sugar D, sudden, intense, and long-lasting nausea joined the parade of symptoms. The attacks came on without warning. One minute I'd be fine, the next I'd feel like I was going to be horribly, violently ill. Often they occurred at restaurants, right after dinner, and I'd either be trapped in the washroom or race home in a cab. Either option was hugely embarrassing, especially if my dinner companions weren't particularly close friends.

A number of factors were at play in those attacks: poor diet, too much booze and stress, undiagnosed panic and anxiety. I've already written, at length, about how I overcame panic and anxiety. Or so I thought. On Thursday night I had another attack - the first in many, many years. Out of nowhere, I felt nauseous and shaky and terrified. I'd been talking to my mom earlier in the day and she told me how she had a stomach bug. I thought about all the people at my work who have had recent stomach bugs. I realized if I got sick that night, I'd be totally screwed because I had something important on at work the next day, something I'd been working on for months. So when I started to feel nauseous I was terrified that it was actually happening.

Once I realized how scared I was, I decided it must be panic. So I pulled out my usual bag of tricks for managing panic. Usually just recognizing it for what it is is enough, but not this time. I tried the tapping thing. I tried a happy place. I tried relaxing my muscles. I tried waiting. But nothing worked. It lasted hours - hours of nausea, shaking, trips to the toilet, sips of water, and wondering if perhaps I actually was sick. The ghosts of Wretched Past flitted in front of my eyes, all the grotty floors I've been intimate with. Finally, around 9:45 (two and a half hours after it started), I decided to take some Lorazepam. I've never actually taken it for a panic attack before, only for prevention on solo flights. But I had it, so I thought I might as well take it. It took an hour to take effect, and even then, I still felt sick, I just wasn't terrified. So it was an improvement. I slept - mostly - through the night and woke in the morning with no vomiting having taken place.

I went to work, relieved I could make it, but still the worse for wear. I felt crappy all day, and crappier once I got home in the evening. The day was a success, work-wise, as far as I could tell, but I was exhausted. I don't think panic is the only culprit for Thursday night. Given how crappy I felt the next day, physically, and how the physical crappiness has continued over the weekend, I figure it must have been a combination of exhaustion and panic (caused or ennabled by the exhaustion).

I've been working flat out for the last six weeks. From the moment I arrive at my desk until I race out to pick up Swee'pea, I'm on one long adrenaline trip of not having enough time to get everything done that needs to be done and not being able to delegate anything. So Thursday night was my wake-up call. If I don't set some boundaries at work, I'm going to end up the way I was before: feeling mildly ill all the time and violently ill sometimes, afraid to eat, afraid to be full, afraid to leave home. I know enough to know I'm not exaggerating. I thought that kind of attack would never happen again because I could control my anxiety and panic, but I took for granted the balance and wellness required for that kind of control.

So this weekend is my sick day. I've been trying to take it easy at home for the last few weeks, during my time off, but the bottom line is that 8 hours (or 9 if you count the rushed drop-offs and pick-ups at daycare) of adrenaline every day is just too much for a body to recover from - for my body anyways. I've never felt this way at work before, never been this busy before.

No more.


thordora said...

I know that crazy work feeling, and I hate it too. Right now, I'm ready to be a cashier at Wal-Mart.

Kyla said...

I think it is great you know what your body needs, and you know how to give that to it. It's important.

Bon said...

it definitely sounds like you need a break, Sin. be good to you.

and heck, maybe you DID have a bit of a bug...

Mimi said...

Good for you: it takes a lot of self-awareness to come to this. You're absolutely right, I think. No one can really go on at that pace, that intensity. I'm sorry that your body is so much more attuned to these stresses in such an immediate way, but maybe this 'wake up call' as you say, will help you prevent something worse down the line?

I wish you well trying to find that balance.