Benzeknees – Professional Patient! Part 2



credit:  Online Stock Photos

credit: Online Stock Photos

This is a continuation from yesterday’s blog post.

After finishing our lunch, we headed to the Royal Alex Hospital (a very big hospital taking up a number of city blocks).  Luckily for me I have a Disabled Parking Pass, due to my difficulty with walking & we were able to park on a level which led right into the floor where the Respiratory Clinic is situated.  Unfortunately, this particular clinic is down a long hallway, turn left down a short hallway, turn right & walk down another very long hallway.  By the time we reached the clinic I was huffing & puffing so bad I didn’t need to ring the bell for service they could hear me trying to catch my breath.

Hubby was quite perturbed about the location & went in search of a wheelchair to help me get back to the vehicle when my test was done.  He was gone for a very long time!  I was taken into a small room with a row of chairs set up for blood draws.  A very nice lady then inserted a needle right into the pulse point of my right wrist.  I will not tell a lie – this hurts!!!  Even though the lady was very good at her job (I have had this test done before where the person missed the pulse & had to dig around in my wrist with the needle to find it).  Thankfully, it only takes a minute once the needle is in & you’re done!

I went out to the waiting room to wait for hubby to return.  He finally showed up with a wheelchair & lots of complaints about everywhere he had to go to try to find the chair.  He wheeled me back to the parking lot entrance & then had to return the chair right away to the place he found it or they would have come searching for him!

By the time I got home Tuesday night, I was absolutely exhausted!

Wednesday morning I began to fast for the second half of the MIBI test.  Hubby once again drove me after he saw how exhausted I was from the first go round.  I was told I would need to eat right after the test, so while I went in to the clinic, hubby went in search of a Subway restaurant (which is surprisingly difficult to find in downtown Edmonton).  Hubby had a staff meeting that evening over dinner time, so I wanted half the sub for lunch & the other half for my dinner.

  • When I arrived I was told to wait in a waiting room which was full of people, all of them there for the second half of the MIBI test.  
  • People were called in one by one to have an injection of radioactive material & then sent back to the same waiting room to wait for 45 mins.  
  • Once you have your injection (just straight in your arm this time – no IV), they want you to eat right away!  But they didn’t explain this properly when they gave instructions, so hubby was still out searching for my lunch.  
  • I was given another cup of Ensure (yuck) to drink.
  • Because I had been shuffled around a lot the day before I didn’t bring a book to read, so completely out of character for me, I joined in the group discussion going on in the waiting room about news events, health issues, etc.
  • One by one we were all called to move into a different waiting room closer to the scanning room where we all met up again.  The second waiting room was much more sedate because there were other people there who looked worried about their upcoming tests(?)
  • I was the last of our group to be called in because I needed to use the chair & the others could use the regular tubular machine.
  • It took even longer the second day to get me positioned the same way as the day before & more pillows were used to jam me into place
  • This time I only needed to have the sitting up scan done for about 7 mins. & I was done for the day.  I met hubby in the waiting room where he had my Subway lunch.  We took it home & I ate it for dinner while he went back to work for his staff meeting.

On Thursday I felt like I had been hit by a truck.  I was aching in places I had never ached before.  I was tired & listless.  

June has been a very tough month for me.  I have had doctor’s appts. at least once a week & sometimes multiple doctor’s appts. every week.  My Outlook calendar is full of appointments!   And July looks to be shaping up the same way.

I have a number of other assessment to complete yet.  I have to be assessed for in-home oxygen, for changes to my anxiety & depression meds, for pulmonary rehab, in addition to regular check ups.  I have to continue to work on my disability claims with both the provincial & federal governments.

Maybe now you can understand why I call myself a professional patient? 🙂


Benzeknees – Professional Patient!



credit:  Online Stock Photos

credit: Online Stock Photos

Hi! Long time no hear from right? It’s been one of those weeks!  So few doctors or other health care professionals can honestly explain some of their tests to you, so I thought I would share my experiences with 2 tests I had to have this week.  I had a MIBI test for my heart this week as well as a blood gas test.   Part One (here) explains my experience of a MIBI test:

  • My test was scheduled for Tuesday a.m, so Sunday at midnight all uses of caffeine were prohibited including de-caff coffee, chocolate, soft drinks or ANYTHING ELSE which contains caffeine.
  • Since I am extremely claustrophobic I had been assured I could have the test done in a chair, like a dentist’s chair with a camera & wires hooked up to my chest instead of in a tubular machine like an MRI.  Since I suffer from Panic & Anxiety Disorder, I spent the whole day on Monday worrying about the test for the next day.
  • Monday at midnight, fasting begins.  You are allowed to have water only, but since I have problems with incontinence since my hysterectomy, water was completely out of the picture for me.
  • Clothing required for the test – women must wear a bra (I never wear one anymore so I had to go searching for one) & a blouse that buttons down the front.  I don’t own any blouses that button down the front!  I found one in the back of my closet with snaps down the front, it was bit too tight, but I wore it anyway
  • My test was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday & I presented myself at the reception desk with all necessary paperwork, photo ID, etc. at 9:15.  The waiting room was almost full.  A few minutes later my name was called & I was ushered into a small cubicle with a curtain.
  • A lady showed up a few minutes later & starting sticking leads all over my chest & under my breasts.  She explained the test to me a bit better (would have been too late to back out at that point anyway) & assured me a doctor would be in the room with me the entire time I had one of the chemicals injected into my system.  She gave me a document to sign saying I understood all the consequences of the test which may include death!  When she saw me blanch at this phrase, she reminded me people have heart attacks all the time, you never know when & since I would be monitored by a doctor the whole time, I would be in good hands if something were to happen.
  • A few minutes later another young lady with hair the prettiest shade of mauve I have ever seen came to the cubicle & inserted an IV into my left arm.  She was very good with the needle & it didn’t hurt.  I was left sitting in the cubicle for approx. 10 mins. until the room for the test was available.
  • I was called into the room where I was given the option of sitting in a straight back chair or reclining on a stretcher with the head raised.  I opted for the chair.  A very nice lady introduced herself to me as the doctor who would be monitoring my vitals all through the test.  She explained what the chemicals would do to me, the possible side effects (headache, light-headedness, dizziness, clammy feeling, feeling flushed).  She explained the chemicals would only need to be in my system for about 10 mins. & if I was experiencing bad side effects she could inject me with another chemical through my IV & it would reverse the effects of the first chemical in about 2 – 3 mins.
  • They started the infusion through my IV & I was asked to tap my toes to help circulate the drugs through my system.  I started to feel flushed almost right away but it was not too bad so I stuck it out.   After about 7 mins. I started to feel very woozy & light-headed as well as clammy.  I asked if I could rest my arm on the tray table next to me for support & that is how I finished the test.  When it was over they flushed my system with the antidote, gave me a styrofoam cup of Ensure (yuck) & a cup of coffee (caffeine helps to flush this drug out of your system).
  • I was sent to another waiting room for about 20 mins. where I finished my Ensure & coffee
  • I was then called into another screening room where I saw the “chair” for the first time.  It did sort of look like a dentist’s chair except it was very narrow.  I had to maneuver myself into this chair so my back was fully against the back of the chair between a large grey plastic boxy looking thing (the camera) & the chair.
  • Once I finally was settled into the chair, pillows were brought in to make sure I was pushed as close to the camera as possible all along my left side.  The camera was then positioned very close to my chest & resting on my stomach.  I could not have taken a deep breath (which from their point of view was a good thing because they wanted me to breathe shallowly for the entire test).
  • It seemed to take forever for them to get the camera positioned right.  Meanwhile my left arm is resting on the top of the camera (so I can get closer to the left side of the machine) & it is getting numb.
  • When they finally found a position they liked I was asked to stay absolutely still for 5 mins. & breathe shallowly.  If I took a deep breath or coughed they would have to start the test over.
  • When this part of the test was finished they lowered the back of the chair so I was laying down & re-positioned the camera again.  Again the camera was very close to my chin & resting on my diaphragm.  I had to breathe shallowly for another 5 mins. while they took the second set of pictures.  They did not dim the lights which was a shame because a row of pot lights was shining right in my eyes & making it hard to concentrate on my breathing.
  • I was led to another waiting room to wait while they checked the pictures & my IV was removed.
  • Finally I was released for the day with instructions to present myself again the next day (Wed) at 1:30 p.m. for the second part of the test.
  • I was encouraged to drink lots of coffee to flush the chemicals out of my system.  I could eat & drink normally until 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when I was asked to fast again for the 4 hours prior to my test.

Because I was worried I might have to take extra anti-anxiety meds to stave off a panic attack, my hubby drove me to the test.  When I was released, we went & had some lunch at a nearby restaurant because I had an hour to kill before I had to appear at the Royal Alec Hospital one block away for a blood gas test.

Since this is turning into a novel, I’ll continue this tomorrow.  Stay tuned for the next installment of Benzeknees – Professional Patient!



Credit:  Microsoft Clip Arts

Credit: Microsoft Clip Arts

Yesterday I posted my 200th post! I didn’t even acknowledge it because I didn’t realize what was happening until I’d already pushed the Publish button. You see, I’ve been a little distracted the last couple of days.

On Sunday, I had a bit of a fall – nothing serious, don’t panic.  I stepped on the wood piece used to make the transition between our hardwood floors & the slate in the bathroom.  It has a slight slant, I was barefoot & because my foot hit it just right I went sliding, overcompensated & ended up landing on my knees & hands, banging my hip on the door jamb on the way down.  But due to knee problems & lingering effects from my broken wrist, I needed help from hubby getting up.  The fall hurt me in mind, body & spirit.

My mind was hurt because I panicked when I couldn’t get up by myself which of course triggered a panic attack.  I couldn’t go into my normal desceleration routine because I was on the floor & panicking about not being able to get myself up.  The first panic attack triggered another & then another.  With that much adrenaline in my system, it was difficult to get the panic attacks under control.  Panic attacks leave me feeling tired & vulnerable for days afterwards.

I was hurt in my body by banging my knees, one shin, jarring my previously broken wrist & bruising my right hip.  My upper arms are also paining me because hubby put his hands under my arms to help me up.

I was hurt in my spirit because it slammed home to me that I am getting older & I’m not in as good shape as I used to be.  The last time I fell I fractured a wrist & being in pain from a fall again I was concerned I might have broken something.  This fall has left me feeling fragile & afraid.  What if hubby hadn’t been home?  What if I had broken something again, maybe this time a hip?

It’s going to take a while to get my confidence back & to stop feeling so fragile.

Adventures in Panic Attacks


ScreamingI have been suffering from Panic Disorder & Anxiety Disorder for over 30 years now. During this time I have met & talked to many other people who suffer from this disabling illness.  There is almost always a cry for help – help me cope with these horrible feelings going on in my body, the horrible thoughts going through my mind.  This is taking over my life & I need help.  Many, many times I have offered suggestions that have worked for me, but it is usually a one-on-one experience & so I am only helping one person at a time.  Maybe by writing about my experience with this, I can help more people.

I grew up in a physically abusive home, so I have lived in fear for as long as I can remember.  Early in my 20’s I started experiencing panic attacks along with intermittent depression.  I had no idea what was happening to me & so I sought medical help where I immediately was put on tranquilizers.  I may have received some counselling.  I went through cycles of this for the next 15 years or so.  At that time I developed chronic depression complicated by severe panic attacks (up to 20/day) & generally I could barely cope with living at all.  So basically my life fell apart.  I was prescribed tranquilizers, mood stabilizers & anti-depressants & roped into intensive counselling.

One of the things I found was that the combination of medication & counselling was not working all that well for me at first & I was worn right out from surviving the panic attacks.  On my own, I contacted a hypnotherapist to see if I could get some extra help.  I was suffering so many panic attacks every day, for the 20 minutes or so I was under hypnosis, it was the only time I was getting some relief from my symptoms.  I learned a lot from the hypnotherapist & hopefully I can pass on some of this knowledge to you.

In a nutshell, panic attacks or anxiety attacks are the body’s fight or flight reflex kicking in.  For some people panic attacks can be symptoms of PTSD from previous trauma.  Your body is reacting to some stressor by dumping a whole lot of adrenaline into your system so if you needed to you could fight off or escape an attacker.  If you don’t need to escape an attacker, then you are left with a rapidly beating heart, a tight chest & a whole host of other rather uncomfortable symptoms all making you feel like you’re about to die!  Often you have no idea what the stressor that caused the attack was because the panic attack happens after a period of stress (at least for me).  Often panic attacks seem to come out of the blue & for no good reason.  This is part of what makes them so difficult to deal with because there is no warning.  One minute you are going about your business & the next you feel like you’re going to die.

There are many medications that can help you cope with panic attacks, but it is often a trial & error process to find the meds that work properly for your body.  What might work for me will result in no help at all for another.  Panic attacks can be accompanied by depression as the person tries to cope with the extraordinary changes going on in their body as well as in how they interact with their world.  Usually after your first panic attack, you never again feel safe to do whatever it was you were doing when you had your panic attack.  As you experience more panic attacks the things you feel comfortable doing become less & less.

But medication is only one way of coping with panic attacks.  Through long years of coping with them I have come up with some mechanisms of my own:

  1. The most important one is to realize panic attacks only last 20 minutes or so if you DO NOT FIGHT them. If you fight the attack it will last a lot longer, maybe 45 minutes to an hour.  At one time I was having rolling panic attacks for days on end (one attack after another without much break between) so it was important to get this through my head.  This was the one piece of information which most helped me because once I understood this, I could cope better during the attack, knowing there was an end in sight.
  2. During a panic attack your body dumps a lot of adrenaline into your system. It sometimes seems as if staying still would be the best way to cope, but I have found if I get up & do some pacing while in the middle of a panic attack, it helps to dissipate the adrenaline.
  3. As soon as I feel a panic attack coming on, I start talking to myself, “This is only a panic attack, you are not going to die. If you go with the flow it will be over in 20 minutes. Just do a little walking & some deep breathing.” Repeat over & over until the panic attack is over.
  4. Practice deep breathing to avoid hyperventilation.  I used to use a brown paper bag to breathe into, but they discourage this practice now.
  5. Do not project into the future or dwell on the past – try as much as possible to stay in the moment.  If you start worrying about what may happen in the future or dwell on what has happened in the past, you are inviting more stress into your body.  You want to relieve as much stress as possible.  While talking to yourself & deep breathing, look around the room.  Is there wallpaper?  What do you think of the pattern?  Look at the petals of a flower if there is one in the room.  Don’t concentrate on dust or worry about your housekeeping, take in small details you don’t ordinarily notice to keep yourself in the moment.
  6. When the attack is finishing, try relaxation techniques, like relaxing your toes, then your calves & work your way up to your head or start at your head & work your way down. Whichever works best for you. It helps sometimes if you imagine yourself in a serene place of your own choosing. My place is under a palm tree on a white sugar sand beach with turquoise water. A gentle breeze is blowing so I don’t get too hot, but the sand is warm & I burrow my body into the sand & close my eyes to have a nap.
  7. Give your body a break & if you can take a nap after your attack to allow your body to return to normal.

All of these techniques can help you ride the wave of a panic attack or multiple attacks.  However, I urge you to seek medical advice & the help of a good therapist.  My techniques are not meant to take the place of good medical care, merely some tricks I have found helpful in my past.

(pic courtesy of Microsoft clip arts)

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Please consider joining Team Lizzie if you can & help bring awareness to these conditions which still have such a stigma attached to them. I am no longer afraid to say I am chronically depressed & suffer from Panic Disorder.

Running Naked With Scissors

coffee talk, happy spot, coffee and donut

Well we haven’t done this in a while have we?  I thought it would be fun to roll out the good old Happy Talk.  From the Coffee Spot of course.  The best coffee and donuts around.  The donuts are zero calorie light as air and they all have extra sprinkles.  I figured I might as well negotiate a deal since my butt was getting big from all the donuts I ate here.

Also – it’s my 300th Post here on Word Press – are you supposed to mark that one?  Well I never remarked on the first two hundred.

So does anybody know what is special and cool about this week October 7 – 13 of 2012?  Do ya?  Huh?  

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