Friday, February 09, 2007

Wow... the things stress can do...

So for the past week or so, I've been feeling completely crappy. Since late-afternoon on Monday, I was feeling so bad that I couldn't make it to class the rest of the week. I went to the school clinic on Wednesday, and the nurse told me it was just the flu or something, to get rest, drink plenty of fluids and to take a few days off from classes if I felt I needed to do that.

But today, I finally found out what's really going on with me and you'll probably laugh when you hear (I did! In relief, if nothing else...).

I went back to the doctor this morning because my arms, and, to a lesser but still noticeable degree, my legs, were going numb every time I tried to lay down to go to sleep last night, then the numbness stopped going away when I'd get up and move around (this lasted about seven hours by the time I had seen the doctor). And I had panic attacks twice before 7am... Like honest to God, uncontrollable hyperventilation and abject fear induced panic attacks. Very scary...

So this time, I didn't go to the USF clinic (not that they aren't wonderful in most cases, but I wanted to see someone who could see me quickly and had gone to school for 8+ years to get his or her degree, as opposed to the nurse practitioners, who evidently are rarely good at making an accurate diagnosis in my case - including this last incident, they've been completely wrong 3 out of the 3 times I've seen one). I told my doctor everything that's gone on this entire past week, and after he looked me over, he said all of it, every bit of it, is stress. Severe stress, that's for sure, but nothing more than that.

My immune system was compromised by it and I got a bad head cold, which I'm still getting over. But all the other symptoms not usually associated with a head cold - the nausea, loss of appetite, upset stomach, numbness in the limbs - is all pure stress. The dizziness can be attributed to both the stress and the head cold. The numbness in particular, which really scared me, as I'm sure you can imagine, was caused by the muscles in my shoulders and back tensing to such a degree that they were squeezing the major nerves that run down my arms and legs, cutting off some feeling. Apparently, this can happen quite often when people are under stress for a long time and is not all that uncommon. So if this ever happens to anyone who might be reading this, try not to panic as much as I did because the most likely cause of it is what happened in my case - knotted, tension-filled muscles in the back and shoulders - and not a heart attack, even though it can feel like that's what it must be. But, of course, it's a good idea to get it checked out because when it gets to this point, it's better to make sure it's nothing more serious, for the sake of peace of mind, if nothing else.

So my doc gave me a prescription for muscle relaxers to force my back and shoulders to unknot, told me to look into getting massage therapy to relieve the rest, and to take it easy for at least the next few days, so that the cold has time to get better. He also found I'm on the verge of getting an ear infection because the cold is taking so long to clear, though it hasn't gotten to that point yet. So I'm following doctor's orders to the letter 'cause I sure don't want a repeat of this last week...

2 comments:

ilana said...

Oh, no! Glad it's nothing *too* serious and that the docs can fix it. YES! STRESS IS BAD!

Get well soon!

Rachael said...

Thank you! Yeah... I'm much relieved now that I know what's going on.