Wednesday, May 2, 2012

MS 3: Panic

Have I mentioned that a babysit the sweetest little baby during the days? I started watching him at the end of February when he was just 6 weeks old (M-F, 8-5ish). He and my son Ryan are 11 months apart. Talk about a crazy time at this house! My friend is a school teacher and needed someone to watch her little one until the end of May. My body wasn't working the best, but there was something inside of me that knew I had to help her out. She had no family that lived close enough to watch him paying for day care is just so expensive. I felt strongly that this was a service I could do for her to help save money for their little family.

Several people were skeptical of my choice to offer help. My legs weren't very trustworthy and I didn't know what other symptoms would just appear.  I was often really fatigued and it was already hard for me to just keep up with my own boys. But if I have learned anything from my life, it is to never avoid the whisperings to your soul that tell you what you should do.

The first few days were really rough. Hunter and Ryan really struggled with the shared attention this little baby was getting. I had to figure out how to get the baby and Ryan down for a nap at the same time in the morning, and then all 3 boys to take a nap at the same time in the afternoon. I had to learn the hard way that my house was going to be destroyed by my two sons in the the time it took for this little baby to drink his bottle. I had to learn how to rock all three kids in the rocking chair at the same time so no one would feel left out. Some days it felt like I was cycling through duties for each child and never focused on myself- first Hunter, then Ryan, then baby, Hunter, Ryan, baby, baby, Ryan, baby, Hunter, etc. My husband quickly learned that there were going to be many days that the house wasn't clean and the dishes weren't done and the only thing that I accomplished was taking care of the emotional and physical needs of each child.

A couple weeks into my babysitting, I noticed something very interesting. When I was babysitting, my body worked well. I could take care of the 3 kids with little to no physical problems or limitations. However, after the baby was picked up, it was back to my old weird self, complete with leg issues, etc. The nights and weekends were exceptionally bad. Also, when I babysat, this sweet little baby was such a good little guy! He ate, played, and slept. He seriously sleeps about 2/3 of the time he is at my house. As I was pondering about this, I had some strong feelings about what it means to make a sacrifice.
I felt that it was a sacrifice for me to watch this baby. It was a sacrifice for my body and it was a sacrifice for my boys as my attention for them had to be shared.  It was a hard thing that I felt I had to do. I didn't know how my body was going to hold up when I told my friend I would babysit, but I offered my help because the Spirit told me to.

Just a couple weeks ago in Relief Society there was a comment about sacrifice during the lesson saying, "To sacrifice is to give up something for something better" and I have learned that to be true. Because I was willing to babysit, I felt that Heavenly Father was blessing me. He allowed me to have a body that worked, during the day, to help me keep good on my promise because I was obedient. He helped me where I lacked and needed it most. But when the baby was picked up, and the responsibility was over, my body went back to it's weird routine of not working well. I was and still am so grateful for that extra help during the day. We all know I need it.

2 weeks before my neurologist appointment and 3 weeks after I started babysitting, Chuck and I had plans to go on a double date with some good friends on a Saturday. We were meeting up to see the Hunger Games and then go to dinner. The Hunger Games had not been out very long and the theater was packed. The only seats available were on the 3rd row and I had the isle seat. While the movie was playing, I got that warning feeling that I wasn't going to be able to move my legs. They instantly became so, so heavy and I couldn't lift them.

"This is so not happening right now." I told myself. We were on a date! In public! With friends! This date had been planned for over a month and I was not planning on it being ruined. Whenever my legs would "release" and I could move them again, I kept switching positions in my chair. I figured if I could keep them moving, they wouldn't freeze up. No such luck. I had a hard time focusing on the movie. I kept thinking about how things were going to play out when it was over. This was really one of the first times I hadn't been able to movie in public and I was getting panicky.

When the movie ended, we all stood up to exit the theater. Because it was a full house, everyone seemed to be trying to get out at the same time. My whole row was waiting for me to exit. I took a couple steps and then I froze. I could.not.move. I few people brushed against me and then some starting cutting in front of me. I was holding everybody up. I started having this flash back to when I was 20 at BYU. I was remembering the awful experience when I couldn't move my legs for the very first time. I had been studying with friends in the library and I needed something from the bookstore that was attached to the Wilkinson Center. When I was in the bookstore (up a few flights of stairs on the top floor) it was in between classes and my legs froze in the flow of students walking and I couldn't move. Students kept pushing into me and then had to move around me. It was so embarrassing. When I was able to move my right leg (left leg was still frozen), I hobbled through the bookstore, down the flights of stairs, and to the library on campus where my backpack was.  Thankfully, I had some really great friends at BYU and my friend Bryan had to drive me home to my parents house in Spanish Fork from Provo. It was an awful night. I wasn't able to move my legs for more than 48 hours and I had the worst nerve spasms to go with it. I woke up with bruised legs and feet.

Back to the theater... something about remembering that night from BYU and feeling like everyone in the theater was going to run me over (which I'm sure they wouldn't have) sent me into panic mode. I was scared. I kept telling Chuck, "Just get me to the bathroom. Just get me to the bathroom." I guess I hobbled with the limited use of my right leg and made it into the bathroom stall where I had my first full blown panic attack.

I couldn't move my legs.
I couldn't move my arms.
The room was spinning.
My heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest.
I felt like I was going to pass out.
It was so awful.

Thoughts kept rushing through my head: "I can't believe my husband is married to such a weirdo." "I am so embarrassed for him!" "How am I going to get out of here?" "I can't move... anything!" "My husband is going to have to come in the girl's bathroom to check on me." "What is the couple we are on this date with going to think of me?" "What are people in the bathroom going to think of me?" "HOW AM I GOING TO GET OUT OF HERE?!!!"

And then I realized I was having having a panic attack.

 I started telling myself, "You can control your legs... you can control your mind... you can control your legs... you can control your mind.  Breathe... breathe.... breathe... breathe.... And then I prayed.... "Heavenly Father... you can control my legs.... you can control my mind.... help me breathe.... you can control my legs.... you can control my mind.... help me breathe....

And with help, I calmed down. Amazingly, this whole experience only had to have taken about 4-5 minutes, but it felt like forever. I jaggedly walked to the sink to wash my hands feeling like everybody was staring at me, as if they knew what had just happened in that stall. When I left the bathroom, I didn't want anyone to know what just happened. I exited the bathroom and found my little group waiting for me.  I started talking about the movie- how I liked it, but thought it lacked some important things from the book. Our friends told us where they wanted to head to dinner and as we headed our separate ways to get into our separate cars, panic set in again... how is my body going to act at dinner? What random surprised did it have in store for me this time?

Enter panic attack #2.

Tears instantly started flowing out of nowhere and I was shocked when I felt them on my cheeks without my approval. I have never just cried without realizing it before. My husband looks at me very concerned and all I could say is, "Get me to the car... just get me to the car. Please get me to the car... just get me to the car."

The poor guy. I am finding this is such a hard thing for him to try to fix. There really isn't many ways he can help me. I told him I just needed time to breathe and I sarcastically (ok, seriously) mentioned what a screwed up wife he had.

"You are not screwed up. You are normal. Everyone has problems. I don't think there is anything wrong with you. I wouldn't have married anyone else. I love you." If you want to help someone who is struggling, say those words. It works.

He went to dinner and I couldn't move my legs under the the table the whole time, but I just let it go. I was learning that I had absolutely no control over it and I wasn't going to let it ruin my night. After a great dinner, we went home and I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I went to lay down and my body just started flipping out. It was as if I could feel everything little nerve movement from my hips down. My legs felt like they were on fire. I got out of bed and moved to couch. I couldn't sleep. It all just hurt so bad. I finally fell asleep out of exhaustion at 4:30am.

I didn't make it to Sacrament Meeting or Sunday School, but I pulled myself out of bed to go to Relief Society. My good friend was teaching and I wanted to be there. I know I looked worn out and scary, but I just needed some spiritual goodness in my soul. I tried to avoid people at church, but one good friend asked how I was and when I quickly walked past her without looking at her and left behind an "I'm fine," she called my bluff and then tears that I was so desperately trying to avoid came. again.

For some reason, I think I have to be strong and hold everything inside. I felt like if I cried, it showed that I was week and couldn't handle the problems that were given to my body.  But that moment I was very weak and very tired. Everything was just so hard and frustrating.  The only thing I could think about was the 12 days until my neurologist appointment that I had waited months for. I seriously needed some help.


Lindsay said...

You are amazing, Stacie. I am so glad that you married such a good man. You are so inspiring because you recognize God's hand in your life even though you are going through such a difficult trial. It's testimony-building!!

Unknown said...

Why is it so hard to admit weakness? I'm the same way, and that has been (and still is) one of the hardest parts of being sick. I enjoy helping others, so why can't I let others enjoy helping me?

Wonder Woman said...

I think it's incredible that you're writing this all down. It can't be easy to relive, but I know that it will help others. Thank you for your honesty, and your unashamed testimony that comes through in each post. I really am praying for you, Stacie.

Unknown said...

I feel that we as mothers and wives feel that we need to control the flow of ALL rivers. We keep our fears and suffering inside, so not to upset the flow. Our internal streams are sometimes blocked by branches of our circumstances only to find that we upset the flow anyways. I have found that I internalize my suffering so that I can keep the illusion of normalsey, only to fall apart at the most peculiar of moments. I try to " fake it untill I make it" only to be disappointed when I don't. Our truths are who we are. We stood in a crowded room with our heavenly father, we valiantly accepted the challenges that would be ours in this life. He has his arms around us every step of the way and guess what? The rivers were never ours to control. You are touching people with your branches of circumstance. You are a special spirit, the word special just doesn't seem right.....majestic (Ask your mom about the majestic mountains and Mam). You stand tall and majestic and your faith is loud enough for all to feel! You are loved Lou Lou, no doubt about that, you ARE loved.