Posted by sean on November 25, 2019 at 10:12 am in Health with 1 Comment

The Panic Attack

It wasn’t long after the hoist incident, that I was moved from Intensive Care to the Orthopaedic Ward.

I was still on edge and nervous. Not only were all the events of the past four days fresh in my mind, but the hoist transfer, ward move, along with changing beds, had left me even more shaken.

I was also severely constipated. It is not uncommon for me to suffer from this condition, even while medically well and at home – especially with the cocktail of medications I take. However, this time, my blocked bum was something else.

I believe the term used by hospital staff is to “open your bowels”. I’m yet to hear anyone use that term in sensible conversation, away from a medical environment. I’m not suggesting that these top consultants, on six-figure salaries, approach 94-year-old Betty, to ask if she has “had a shit”, but I would be more than happy for my doctor or nurse to ask “have you gone for a poo today?”.

I don’t know how the chain of events unfolded, but I believe that I was complaining to my wife and mum, about the pains in my stomach, caused by not “going number two”* for so long.
* I didn’t actually use those words!

This progressed to a stage where I believed that I needed to empty the contents of my bowels into the bed.

I was clearly becoming increasingly agitated, as Claire and my mum had begun to show concern, with regards to my breathing.

I am unable to remember everything, such was the state I was falling into, but Claire later told me that when asked what was wrong, I shouted back “I’m shitting the bed!”.

After that, I lost all control of my breathing. Being unable to breathe properly, is one of the most terrifying experiences that any man or woman can encounter.

I was effectively dying. I was aware that I was dying. I knew that if I could simply control my breathing, I would be safe, but I couldn’t. I was having a panic attack of epic proportions. What’s more, this attack had been caused by severe anxiety. If I could just get rid of the anxiety – but you try telling a man, who is convinced he’s dying, to relax.

I remember hoping for an easy way out and to be saved. I wanted a team of doctors and nurses to rush to my bedside, armed with equipment; slamming a plastic mask onto my face and administering lifesaving oxygen.

By this point, I was aware of concerned medics nearby. Although it was clear that I was not going to be given an easy way out of the crisis. If I was going to live, I was going to have to save myself.

Somehow I calmed down and managed to get my breathing under control. I suffered no ill effects of my mental episode, although have been left terrified by it. No doubt my family, who witnessed the attack have their own bad memories of the event too.

Claire later revealed just how bad things had become. During the panic attack, my blood oxygen levels were taken. Generally, anything above 88% is healthy. Nowadays, I find my readings to nearly always be higher than 90%. When I was admitted to the Intensive Therapy Unit in the summer of 2018, my blood oxygen level was 80%. During this panic attack, my levels dropped to a terrifying 66%. Thank goodness I wasn’t told at the time!

While I had made a recovery from the panic attack, I was still very much “bunged up”. I guess at least I hadn’t pooed in the bed…

One Response to Life’s Not Fair: Part 4

  1. lucy

    December 23, 2019 - 10:47 pm

    oh sean. you poor poor thing. i hope writing these accounts down of those disturbing and obviously extremely vivid dreams has helped you to purge them from your mind.

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