“It’s time to go, Mom,” says my 20-year-old daughter, jiggling my car keys in her hand as I riffle through my medicine drawer, searching for a Panadol* capsule or something against my rising nausea. My head pounding, I find nothing. Finally I discover a bottle of natural “Extreme Balance” – relieves nerves - it says. I quickly swallow one, and grabbing my purse, follow her out the door.
“Let’s stop at the pharmacy,” I suggest. “I need Panadol.”
“It’s just nerves, Mom,” she says, putting a hand on my knee.
“Drive slower, I’m about to throw up,” I tell her.
A few minutes later, we arrive at the dentist’s office. I feel my heart beating and a very specific spot over my right eye pulsing in pain. My throat is constricting, filling up with slime. I take in a few deep breaths.
|Gap is hardly noticable...|
Half an hour later, my infected molar has been extracted, my headache gone and my stomach is relaxed again. I can hardly believe how the pre-dentist stress affected my body. I knew I was nervous, but since I’m so self-aware, and usually express freely how I feel, I never expected my nerves to hijack my body in such an extreme manner.
“Is this how some students feel, before an exam?” I ask my daughter, as she serves me scrambled eggs and a soft avocado, a while later.
I now realize that I may not have fully understood what some people call ‘panic attacks.’ You really can’t control them; they control you. Empathy, and of course, facing what has to be faced, helps deal with them. If I had cancelled my dentist’s appointment, I would have just added self-pity to my feelings, and guilt.
Now, after I’ve ‘survived’ the dentist, there’s just a little bit of residual pain, easily manageable with the Panadol we did end up buying, and a ton of relief.
And endless empathy for all those who also suffer from stress and anxiety.
I feel your pain; I do.
*Panadol: Coated Paracetamol tablets.