No More Panic > Blog > Jean’s Story

Jean’s Story

A couple of months ago,a Gp said to me “When did you start feeling anxious?”.I immediately said ” Almost 2 years ago when I stopped smoking,as they were my crutch and it has been pulled out from under me. They kept me sane and I enjoyed every single one of them that I smoked over the last 50 years”

However,when I got home and thought about her question,I realised that I was anxious even as a child.I remembered 2 stern faced nurses wrapping my little sister in a red blanket and carrying her out of the house,and my mother and grandmother sobbing their hearts out.

my mother’s sister had died 4 years earlier,at the age of 21,with meningitis,and this is what took my little sister as well.
I was the oldest girl of 3 and always worried and looked after the other two. I had to take them to and from school across a busy road,and on a tram car,and I also fought all their playground battles

I remember lying awake at night crying at the thought of anything happening to my beloved grandmother.She was the only one who I felt really loved me. Not fair to my Mum at all as she loved us all equally,but to my grandmother I was the replacement daughter she had lost.

I went on to have 5 children of my own and worried about them all through their lives .My worries were more of the What If variety. When my grandchildren came along,I lay awake at night visuallising all sorts of horror accidents,illnesses etc that might befall them.In fact I still do that even now as I feel they are vulnerable since their father walked out leaving my daughter to cope on her own.

None of my family are aware of this as I never show any sign of weakness to them.I very seldom cry except in private. I feel I have to be strong for them .
Recently,however,and tracing it back to the stopping smoking I have been having anxiety attacks,mainly about my own health as well as worrying about my immediate family.

It all started when I went to the docs 6 weeks after I had stopped as I had a chest infection which was lingering on a bit. She sounded my chest and said it was clear,but she would check my BP. I was confident it would be Ok as I had been checked every time I went for my HRt prescription. I had stopped taking them 4 years previously,and hadnt been at the doctors since.

I was surprised when she said it was a bit high and on looking back she said It was high the last time.4 years previously? Why did no one say so then?
I put it down to the stress of stopping smoking but she isnsited on me coming back for more checks which proved to be “borderline” i suffer from White coat syndrome and have a fear of doctors,hospitals etc,no doubt going back to my childhood experiences

I went back to ask if I could have an inhaler as I was getting breathless especially walking up hills and to my dismay she said it sounded more like Angina. My God Angina I couldnt even begin to think straight. I never told any of my family,not even my husband,until the appointment for the treadmill tests came through as he would have to take me to the hospital.We went to the cardiac ward for this and the sight of middleaged men being wheeled about with drips etc in was enough to reduce me to a quivering wreck so needless to say I lasted 2 mins on the treadmill,and I noticed that my BP had gone sky high. The consultant wasnt too pleased at this and told me he wanted an echocardiogram done there and then.This was an ultrasound examination and he told me I would get the results through in a week or so.About 10 days later,on 12th Dec I got a phone call from the doctors surgery telling me the results had come in and I had had a mild heart attack and they wanted to see me to give me medication.I was very upset,but again,I said nothing to my family,but my husband insisted on coming to the doctors with me. I left him in the waitingroom and saw the Gp who explained what it meant and drew me diagrams of nerve damage to the heart muscle etc,but I didnt really take it in.They arranged for me to have an angiogram and that’s when I had to tell my family that I had had a heart attack It spoilt everbody’s xmas that year.

I had the angiogram on 26th Jan and i won’t say too much about that except I hope I never have to have another one. They did it through my wrist and when the consultant came to tell me the results the artery in my wrist suddenly started spurting out . I got the gist of what he was saying but as 2 nurses were pressing on the artery I didnt really take it in. After the panic was over the nurse in charge told me that I had a “funny” heartbeat,and this is what the ultrasound had interpreted as damage to heart muscle. The GP’s later confirmed that I hadn’t had a heart attack at all as there was no damage to the heart. In the meantime I was put on a cocktail of drugs beta blockers,ace inhibitors,statins and aspirin.I felt ill all the time Pains in my chest ,pains in my stomach,pins and needles and numbness in my hands and arms,never had a full night’s sleep,and that’s when the real anxiety started to kick in. Was this chest pain bad enough to phone an ambulance?.I googled every site I could find about Angina and heart disease and then tossed and turned all night with every twinge.

I had gone from a slightly worried personality,but happy and healthy,to an anxious, depressed and very scared and unhappy person. In August last year,after reading lots of the side effects of statins,and suffering from pins and needles,I stopped taking the statins.

However,the rot had now set in,and I was in denial about having heart problems. They didnt know what they were talking about It was my lungs that were causing me to be breathless,but your body makes a liar of you. Last year we decided to downsize and move to a town 25 miles away where 2 of my sons lived This involved leaving behind my daughter and 2 grandsons,but she had her name down for a house here so maybe it wouldnt be too long.We bought a flat needing a bit of work and started selling up .The night we got the keys of the flat my daughter in law pushed the garden gate open just as I was going out and I ended up with a big lump on my brow This got worse till I ended up in casualty till 3 am being x-rayed and had a black eye for a couple of weeks after.this flat must be jinxed

A couple of weeks after this I noticed I had sore breasts when sitting at the Pc and turning over in bed was agony esp the left one It was really sore. I googled all the symptoms to look out for and hoped it would go away as I was horrified at even the way they described the tests. I went to the docs and all he said was “do you have any lumps?” I said No and he said take Evening primrose oil then. We sold up and moved in with my son till the flat was ready and they were still very sore.but we didnt have a doctor yet.so that was my excuse. A few weeks after we moved in my mother took ill and was taken in to hospital. She lived outside London with my younger sister and my husband and i jumped on a train and spent a week there with her. We came home on the sat and on the Wed I got a call to say she had died.As you can imagine my stress levels were going through the roof We went back down for the funeral and I got through it better than I thought,but when I am alone I cry my eyes out

Sometimes its a song,sometimes its a saying,sometimes i just remember something and I am crying again. But,again,no one knows .2 days after we moved in to the flat and 3 weeks after Mum died i caught that virus that was going about and had to phone an ambulance at 11pm as I couldnt breathe My blood oxygen levels were very low and the kept me in for 3 days. I had to go for brrathing tests as they say I have COPD,due to all the years of smoking. So what about the Angina?they gave me an inhaler and first thing I noticed was Not to be taken if you are on Atenolol,which I was,so off to the new GP’s and she said I will take you off these and put you on another BP drug.But I had read never stop taking these suddenly as it can lead to heart attacks and DEATh.My God I checked my Bp and noticed my heartbeat had gone from 46 to 84 beats per minute so I went in to panic mode. I managed to get an appt and I was sitting shaking in the surgery,blurred vision,heart pounding away in my chest I thought I was going to pass out .

he told me it was quite normal and the drugs were well out of my circulation now etc but to come back in 2 days.Panic stricken I went back and immediately burst in to tears telling the doc about my mother dying etc etc and she put me on a low dose of diazepain for 2 weeks. they made me feel a bit better and my heartrate went down gradually,but by that time I didnt want any medication at all. My hair started falling out,and I got recalled for another blood test,something to do with potassium /sodium levels. I googled them as well but by now my anxiety levels are going through the roof and my breasts are still sore. I can’t sit in the passenger seat in the car the seat belt irritates them and I get pains in my chest.I went to the hospital 4 weeks ago for more breathing tests and Ihave mild COPD But they did an ECg and this”blip” is showing up so now I have to go for another echocardiogram. I finally plucked up courage to go back to the GP’s about the breast pain. he was a locum and looked up Google to see if the side effects of ramipril included sore breasts,but it didnt so he arranged an appt at the breast care clinic for me Will be a couple of weeks he said No .the appt came through in 10 days More panic ,but I went last week and got examined and she said pain wasnt a real concern and she was sure it was coming from my neck or spine.

I hadnt told anyone apart from my husband and he was so relieved he told them all that I had good news. But I feel a fraud because i didnt tell her that the left one is still sorer than the right maybe she has made a mistake If I had told her that she might have sent me for a mammogram.So I am sitting here worrying even more now. How can I go back and say I want another examination? This anxiety over my health is ruining my life Sometimes I wish I had never stopped smoking. I may have had a bit of a cough at times but nothing as serious as what I have now,and at least I was able to cope with whatever life threw at me,but not now.

I really couldn’t believe that anxiety could cause so many physical symptoms like chest pain etc,and I am so glad I have found this site,as i can relate to everyone else’s experience and it has helped me a great deal to know I may not really be ill,and that anxiety is causing me to have these symptoms and negative thoughts.
On one of my frequent visits to the docs,one of them told me not check my Bp and not to go on the internet,and I think that is the best thing I can do as visiting sites like netdoctor etc only send me in to panic mode again.

It was good to write all this and get it off my chest for the first time as I have had a lot of different things going on at the same time. I have reduced the BP medication to just one Ramipril and aspirin and check it occasionally Last time I did was the day I was going for the breathing tests and my heart was racing so when they sent me for an ecg I worried so much that I told the techinician my heart was racing ,and it did indeed show up on the trace.Anxiety caused that I am convinced Cos I checked it yesterday and it was fine.

When will I ever get over this and stop worrying?I have tried relaxation Cd’s etc,but nothing works especially at 4 am when you can’t get back to sleep .If anyone has any advice I would be most grateful
Cheers,
Jean