This blog is slowly in danger of becoming a "Living with Chostochondritis" one. After my chipper "I'm all better again" one from the end of last year, it would appear I may have spoken too soon. I started feeling rotten again on Christmas day, heart rate pounding and another pain in the left hand side of my chest. The feeling didn't go after a week or so, so last Tuesday saw me making another visit to my GP - this time insisting I didn't go to the same one I saw last time, the one who made everything much worse by terrifying me with other potential causes.
I'm stuck in a vicious circle; the pain (centred over my heart as it is) gets worse and I panic, which in turn makes the pain worse and slows down the whole healing process. In order to break this, the GP has prescribed me beta-blockers, Propranolol to be precise. (Hell, it's got LOL in the title so must be great - Propranorofl and Propranolmao can't be far behind in development). I've been put on a months worth of these and the GP has said that if these don't work, the alternative will be anti-depressants.
One word of advice for people taking these for anxiety; do not - and I repeat do not - read the leaflet that comes with them telling of potential side effects. This, I guarantee, will make your anxiety considerably worse. History of wheezing or hayfever? Propranalol might be fatal. Headaches and nausea? Par for the course.
Are they working? I don't know, but I've only been on them for a week. Do they work straightaway or will I notice results over time? Again, I don't know. I was even wary of taking ibuprofen at the same time for the pain until I got confirmation that this was okay, and this seems to be helping a bit. The good thing about them is that its enforcing a healthy regime; I'm avoiding caffeine completely and can't touch alcohol whilst on them, so that's the first time I've gone a week without a drop of booze touching my lips for a long, long time.
Are they helping with the anxiety? Unknown. I had a really good day yesterday with just a little bit of chest pain so ventured into town with Tara. Towards the end of the day she wanted to go into a sewing machine shop, so I said I'd meet her later. I tried to call her on her mobile, but wasn't getting an answer. I tried again, still nothing - nothing overly stressful, right? Try telling my heart that. I found myself getting stressed and angry for no reason whatsoever - my heart started beating faster and faster until I could hear it in my ears. I knew it was a panic attack, but didn't know what to do. I started walking home but the feeling was draining from my legs - my ears were filling with white noise and I could feel my heart thudding in my chest. I made it home and into a warm bath (this seems to be relax me better than anything; I've never had so many baths. Interesting that an illness has the side effect of keeping me much cleaner).
To those of you who know about panic attacks, I have complete sympathy for you. Until last October I would have just told you to pull yourself together, but now I know what it's like. You literally feel out of control - you're panicking that you're going to die, and this just makes the situation worse. Your heart concentrates on pumping blood around to recover, but this just increases the ferocity of the panic attack. To those of you who have never had one? I wouldn't wish one on my worst enemy. What's terrifying about them isn't just having one, it's the fear of having another one. You're no sooner out of one when you're worrying about what's going to trigger the next one. I was supposed to be going out for a good friends birthday last night, and had been really looking forward to it, but the attack of yesterday afternoon put paid to that.
I'm going to see about getting some counselling for dealing with the pain and stress this week; the moods I'm going through indicate that I'm just not coping. It feels like I'm going to have this chostochondritis for ever, and it's affecting my mental state - Sleep is difficult, and my work is suffering accordingly. If it is a chronic condition, I need something to help me cope with it on a permanent basis. If it's not, my body simply isn't coping well enough to let itself heal.
Forgive the indulgence; As I said in the opening paragraph, this seems to be becoming a chosto blog. Writing about it helps though - it's good to put these things into words. Hopefully (fingers crossed) normal blog service will be resumed shortly - that being months of nothing and then a flurry of film/game review related nonsense!