As I write this I’m listening to Adam Eason’s (apparently he’s very good) “Safe, Controlled Relaxation” MP3. It’s a free MP3 I got for signing up to his newsletter. I never dreamed it would it help me in what has become, without being too dramatic, a battle to get my life back.
Life hasn’t been great these past few months. One weekend I was looking forward to a walk with my friends. A near road traffic accident happened and I got thrown forward, hitting my head on the sun vizor. I felt fine and did the walk with my friends. Towards the end of the walk my heart started behaving weirdly and upon getting back into my friend’s car, my right eye clouded over with a red haze which alarmed me beyond belief. But the haze seemed to clear and I spent the evening with my friends in the local pub. It was only on the way home that I noticed my balance was off and people I met on the walk home were giving me concerned glances and asking if I were okay.
Later at home I still felt off and noticed my eyes were very red. Eventually, in the small hours of the Sunday morning, I walked up to the local hospital. There’s a massive hospital a short walk from my house. Next thng I know they’re taking my blood pressure and checking to see if I”ve broken anything. Then they hand me to another doctor who tests my reflexes, shines lights in my eyes and ears and tells me the news that my retinas have survived and there’s no evidence of problems with the brain.
Given a clean bill of health, I get cocky the next day and over do it. The first thing I notice is a weakness in my right arm. Then there’s a pull like nothing I’ve ever felt before. And whiplash makes its entrance.
I spend a week in bed and four weeks in varying degrees of pain.
I return to Cardiff but the whole experience has shaken me up and my ability to handle stress has, if I’m honest, been destroyed. My worst fears are no longer phantoms in some forgotten dream that fades with the first light of the dawn. They are facing me across a chessboard and I feel I’m running out of pieces.
I experience problems with my back and legs and the whole experience panics the life out of me. One night, there’s a tug…simply a muscle relaxing as I sleep. But the sensation frightens the life out of me enough to wake me. I’m terrified. I fear the loss of my ability to move, stand and walk. My mind knows the fear and calls all it has to rally together and fight it. This is a bad idea. I end up running around my flat in the dark in a mad panic, bumping into everything. My hands hit the metal door handles and both, over the course of the next few days, swell up. The muscles were on high alert and they’ve over reacted. Eventually, I speed to the hospital to have them x rayed. Nothing broken. Just bruised.
My body spends most of its time wating to scream, my mind feels like it’s being held together with rubber bands and tape and I do my best to carry on with normal life.
I’m given valium to help with the panic attacks and, if I’m honest, I use it too much. For other people, it helps them sleep and relaxes their muscles. For me, it raises my blood pressure to ridiculous levels and messes with my heart. I become groggy and forgetful on it.
I spent the night at a friends house and he gives me a lift back. I open the door to my block of flats and the door to the block of flats hits me in the back. The pain is beyond belief. Eventually, I head to the hospital.
But the door is not their concern. My blood pressure reading makes two medical students with me shout: “man! That’s high!”. Suddenly they want all sorts of samples. Half way through the day, my parents (who were coming down to help me celebrate my birthday) are treated to the sight of me on a hospital bed with various drips attached to me. Various doctors, CT scans, X rays, blood tests etc follow and by the end of the day I can’t stand up or walk. I have this vivid memory of being wheeled around the hospital in a very weak state because they wanted to see if the infection they could not find was in my chest. It wasn’t. They couldn’t find it.
They kept me in and all I could do was sleep. I gave myself up to whatever was going to happen. The other people on the ward were significantly older than me and I spent a night with a drip attached to me and having to press a button so a nurse could bring me a little seat and a bucket to go to the toilet in. Not the worst ever but….
I started physio. My muscles were again too much on alarm and I got a minor re-injury in a friend of mine’s car.
There’s a minor infection thing on my bum which they’ve given me a cream for and the hospital doctor put me on anti depressants.
Panic attacks have still been a problem and slow down my recovery.
Still got problems with my legs and back but working with the physio and GP on them.
I have a cold at the moment and my body wants to scream: “infection! Emergency!” at me all the time.
Hypnosis is helping get my blood pressure down. My heart rate is also now more under my control and the relaxation recordings have really helped me control the panic attacks.
I attend a depression support group. For a long time I wondered whether I was a “bad person” with all these things happening to me at once. Missing out on fun social events, worries about movement and nerves have all taken their toll on me. I worry the various panic attacks have slown down my recovery and I honestly don’t know if I’ll get back to the person I once was. I’ve been touched to realize how surrounded by love I am from friends and family. My relationship with my parents has been a bit dodgy because of my fear of being on my own and not feeling like I can do my own thing by myself like I used to.
I’ve never known terror like it to be perfectly honest.
My hands have healed a lot and I have regained a lot of my ability to handle stress. I still wake in the middle of the night or early hours of the morning with a fragment of a remembered nightmare to do with health matters. I’m doing my best.