Hannah at the age of 3 was a confidant and happy child. When we had visitors over and she had to go off to bed, she would stand at the door and blow kisses and say night night. She looked like a doll; she had white hair and was very tiny. On holiday she joined the kids club. Woke me up one morning all dressed and said, “I’m off” Where are you going I asked, ‘off to the kids club’. This did make me smile
…. In September not long after her 3rd birthday Hannah went to the school nursery, this was part of the school and she would be with the same children when she started reception class in her first school year.
The first day of nursery went well, and several days past before I got a phone call to say Hannah had been sick and could I come and get her. I picked her up and she seemed fine. It seemed that every day she went to nursery she was vomiting, I did think at that time it was because she was nervous, so I asked the teacher if she would try and calm her and keep her there.
One day the teacher phoned and said that she could not keep her there because she was scaring all the other kids; she had vomited and was screaming, this happened many times in succession… I still put this down to nerves and talked to Hannah and she would seem to settle, although she still would vomit at times.
One night after I had put Hannah to bed I heard a noise and went into her room. She was lying there choking on her own vomit. The following night it happened again and it scared me, so I slept in the same room as her. These attacks of vomiting did not happen just at school anymore. They were happening all the time and anytime, anyplace, anywhere. It just didn’t seem to make any sense. It was not just the vomiting; it was they way she looked as well, as if she was in fear of something.
While waiting for an appointment for hospital for Hannah to have tests, I did the best I could. I knew that she had to go to school, one part of my mind was saying Hannah was suffering with her nerves but because the attacks where happening everywhere the other part of my mind was saying that there was something more serious wrong.
Hannah had to be on the schoolyard for 8.45am, I learnt that if I got her up at 8.20am and moved quick, got her dressed and kept her talking, this did not give her time to think of the day ahead. Sometimes it worked, other times it didn’t.
She would sit there crying saying “I feel funny Mummy, I don’t feel very well” she would shake sometimes and as always, vomit. This happened most days.
Nighttimes were hard not only for Hannah but for me as well. I was in the same room as her now. She was terrified and I didn’t know why. I had to hold her hand or stroke her face to calm her, she could not tell me because she was so young what she was terrified of. When I asked her she would just say ” I don’t know. This hurt me so much. I could never understand what she was going through.
When Hannah was asleep I knew when she was going to be sick, it sounded like she was drinking a glass of water, she would produce a lot of saliva, do this for a while then vomit. I learned this quick and would always have a bowl ready, or if she was lying on her back I would have to sit her up. This went on for a long time.
One night I was so tired I never heard her get out of bed, I just opened my eyes as she walked out the door. Jumping out of bed I ran after her, she was standing in the bathroom staring at me, she began to scream; I will never forget that scream, the fear in her little face. ‘I want my mum’ she shouted, I said ‘I’m here’, she just kept on screaming, ‘make it go away’ she said, this time I felt scared too. Something was happening and I could not do a thing about it. Again she was shaking and vomited…
The vomiting happened most nights, some nights she would have some sort of attack and would be screaming, and sometime she would vomit in her sleep and not remember next morning.
The hospital tested her for epilepsy and a few other things but they all come back negative.
It had been a year since this all started and a lot of bad habits had set in, she would not sleep on her own, she would not go anywhere, party’s out with friends, not even with her dad. She would not go anywhere without me. This monster was with her no matter where she went or what she did, she was terrified and so was I.
My mind was racing I needed to do something; it was still playing on my mind that there was something they had missed. I thought very hard about all the times that she had these attacks could see no pattern because sometimes it would happen even when people were just talking to her, even my mother in law (her Nan) even on holidays she would still have these attacks.
We have had a lot of holidays over the years; the monster came there too. One holiday was supposed to be a trip of a lifetime to Florida, Disneyland. The attractions frightened Hannah. Either we would stand in the long queue and I would have to talk to her and try to distract her, or she refused to go on and I would have to go on first and tell her what it was like. I told her that I would never let her go on an attractions if I thought she would not like it, She missed out on lots of things there.
I began to teach her confidence; I worked hard on trying to help her go places with other people, I also began to teach her how to change her thoughts, tried to help her learn to feel safe without me. I noticed that there were now patterns to these attacks.
Another year went by and although she still had these attacks it seemed that what I was teaching her was working but I still was not happy, I wanted answers. In this year she had another bad spell of attacks. Hubby and I went through BUPA with Hannah because I wanted answers and I wanted them now. Hannah had a brain scan, came back normal, then she went to have a camera put down her throat, this showed that the valve leading to Hannah’s stomach was loose and was causing acid reflux.
My doctor made an appointment for the family to go and see a child psychologist.
I was still teaching Hannah how to change her thoughts from negative, scary ones to positive reassuring ones and teaching her how to breathe properly. She was 6 years old now, although she still got theses attacks they had improved over the years.
I told the psychologist everything, she sat there listening; I told her how much Hannah had improved and what I had done. She told me everything I had done for Hannah was right and there was nothing more she could do for her, she said it was in Hannah’s make up to be this way, she would grow out of it or she would have to learn to live with it., she also said that if I wanted Hannah could come and see her again. I said no.
Hannah is 12 years old now and doing very well, her monster has almost gone, she still gets a few blips now and again but they are very few and far between. I am still teaching and encouraging her to change her thoughts and that fear is only as strong as the mind allows.
Hannah can do lots of things on her own now. She goes to and from school on her own; she can go on school trips. In her junior school she joined the school choir. She sang in the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in front of about 800 people. That night I had tears in my eyes, I was so proud of her. She can go out and play without coming back in every five minutes just to feel safe. She can sleep over night at her Nan’s, she can go on a lot of fair ground rides now, and so we are hoping to go back to Florida very soon, the list goes on. I am so proud of her and she continues to make good progress.
I am still sleeping in the same room as her; she is finding this one very hard. I have over the years been sleeping with her when she has her blips. I know I have to leave her to deal with it on her own. I know it’s the right thing to do because she has to learn how to feel safe with herself, it hurts me, but I know she will get there in the end.
I cannot write everything that happened to Hannah, there is a lot more but the story would be too long.
They say that to understand PA’s and anxiety; you have to go through it, I never knew what my daughter went through until in 2004 panic and anxiety came to visit me. I had lots of PA’s and was living in fear 24/7.
It took the nomorepanic site, all the information on there and the special people to help me bring it under control.
I am panic free now and high anxiety free. In no way was my daughter to blame for my PA’s. That just put extra pressure onto what was an already a negative mind.