11/20/2010

Minus the Klonopin

Since my last post, I spoke of my hair loss. I also spoke of getting pregnant as a result of my hair falling out. Well, since my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant, I decided to taper off of the Klonopin. I mean, I hardly too much of it to taper off of it - I took 1/4 of the lowest dosage prescribed to me. When I had gone back to work, I took the 1/4 in the morning to get me through the day. When I thought I might have the chance of becoming pregnant, I tried to not take it at all.

This helped me change my way of thinking, which helped me, psychologically, not get nervous? I seemed to have developed a way of dealing with my anxiety in order to not take any medicine. I started a new job, retail, and was so proud that I didn't need to take my Klonopin in order to get through the day. I have NO idea why I "all of a sudden" didn't feel the need to take it. I had been doing so well a few weeks prior, trying to take it every few days, or as needed, that I just stopped thinking about taking it.

Everyone talks about the horrible withdrawal effects of discontinuing Klonopin, I thought I'd taper off with caution. Now, I was on such a low dose, I probably didn't even need to worry about it, but I played it safe just so I wouldn't have a reason to get nervous. I did fine! I stopped altogether. Between the middle and end of October, I think I took a quarter of a 0.25mg tablet once.

Since then, I haven't taken any! I had NO problems getting off of the med. I hope this gives anyone hope, regardless of what dosage I had taken. For about a month, I have not even taken anything.

My panic attacks left as soon as they had started. It's the strangest thing that I have no explanation for. Maybe getting out of the house helped. Confidence? I know it's tough getting out the house, being home bound for so long. I really just can't explain it. The only thing I am "nervous" about is, how fast it left, how fast it could come back. I'm not terribly worried, like I normally would be, mainly because I have confidence in how I react to my panic. Yay!

11/01/2010

Tests never lie, right?

I haven't written in a while; I've just been really busy - plus, every time something new came up, something newer would happen, so I just became overwhelmed.

Last time I posted, I believe I spoke about my hair loss. The doctor, of course, told me it was stress. My blood work came back fine.

Here's the deal: I've had abnormal thyroid tests before, but when they see they big ANXIETY label on my file, everything results in STRESS. I'm sorry, but I've had panic attacks since I was 16 years old (stress and fears since I was 6). I've never had my hair fall out.

So what are my options now? It could possibly be:
  • Anxiety
  • Hormonal
  • Thyroid
  • Natural (Hair is regenerating)
  • Pregnancy Failure
  • Hair dye?
Everything could be fine, but the fact my doctor automatically tells me it's stress (when he's seen me two times), pisses me off. Or I could be wrong.

I'm not sure how long it takes hair to go through a "regeneration" stage, but my hair has still been coming out a lot. It isn't coming out in chunks, but it's noticeable, like when when I brush my hair, or I find it on my clothes or the floor, or pull out strands that pile up in the shower.

Back in 2009 my husband and I decided to start trying for a baby. We lightly talked about it, since we previously decided to not have any. Since we were getting older, we didn't want to wait to talk about it after the age of 35 because of complications (and it's tougher to get pregnant for some as they get older). Because of my anxiety and panic attacks, we really haven't been 100% on "trying" due to the circumstances. We pretty much decided we wouldn't take precautions, and if it happened, it happened. This makes me wonder if maybe I did get pregnant and it didn't "take", thus the hair loss. Several websites, as well as my doctor, said that could cause hair loss. There's no way of knowing.

I started this post a couple of weeks ago (today is 11/20th), and my hair loss hasn't been as bad. Stress, a failed pregnancy, change in diet - who knows. My blood work came back fine and that's all I can be happy about.

9/07/2010

Just Drive On By

So I landed this job out of 500+ applications. I should feel special. And I did. Did being the key word. I had a lot of anxiety during orientation, but I somehow got through it - barely. But when our schedule called for us to train two days 45 minutes away AND CARPOOL..... AND an extra dinner 45 minutes away with the team and family, I caved.

*Sidenote: When telling my trainer about my "carsicknesses", he tells me it's "weird" and doesn't understand. I don't explain to my boss, trainer and fellow employees of my panic because they won't understand. No one ever understands. So this sets the tone for what was to come, definitely.

I was to be at work this morning at 4:45am, which I love (early mornings). I slept horribly, waking up with paplitations, insomnia and terror about driving to our store training. I did try to talk to my boss, telling him I got carsick and I needed to drive (and I have a two-seater truck) - so I thought that I would get out of carpooling and be able to drive alone. But they wanted to stick someone with me.

I can barely get out of the house, let alone carpool someone 45 minutes while dealing with my anxiety. Plus, I didn't want to be responsible for leaving training and abandoning some poor person because of my anxiety. I got up this morning, got ready and drove past work at 4:40am and kept on driving.

This is a known trait of mine. I have done this dozens of times. I couldn't go. I passed up a great 40 hour workweek in a small, shitty town - and blew it. Again.

I drove to a rest stop out of town and slept there for two hours so I wouldn't have to answer to my husband and family (in case they saw my truck at home). Who does this? I do!

I'm 34 years old and when I told my mom, she told me I was crippling everyone around me, including my husband. So now I'm mad at my mom. I seriously just want to run away - at 34 years of age. Reminds me of when I was 14.

Hair Loss

Having anxiety usually means when you tell someone you think something is really wrong, they say "No, you're fine..." and never really believe anything is ever wrong. Nothing is ever really fine with me when it comes to panic disorder; I always believe something is really wrong.

This time the physical proof is there. My hair. In the last few weeks, my hair has been starting to come out. This photo is from my running my hands through dry hair (for example, to put my hair up in a hair tie - or simply tame it from being messy).


The next two photos show my clumps of hair after I wash it in the shower! This isn't just every once in a while, it's every time. Proof something is wrong; even if it's just anxiety.


Just anxiety? Like I always say: "There's no such thing."

I looked up hair loss and found this:

Telogen effluvium: This type of temporary hair loss occurs suddenly, most often after a significant illness or major life stress. Handfuls of hair may come out when combing or washing your hair or may fall out after gentle tugging. This type of hair loss usually causes overall hair thinning and not bald patches.

From: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hair-loss/DS00278/DSECTION=symptoms

I had a thyroid test done 6 months ago (it showed signs of abnormality in 2006), but this past test came back normal. I'm sure Thursday, at my next doctor appointment, I will be told it's stress. Why do I even bother?

9/01/2010

Seriously, Who Feels Like This?

First day of work went.... okay. I got there and felt fine. I took a quarter of 0.5mg Klonopin at 2:30pm. I had to be at work at 5pm. Usually, psychologically, it lasts me 6 hours (because that's what my doctor told me how long it stays in your system, give or take). Of course that low dose isn't much, but psychologically it usually works for me. Even a nibble at a department store or grocery store, for example, will help me calm down.

Orientation began tonight. There were about 40 employees (we're all new, starting a new store). I was fine until we all sat down. My mind raced. I thought about how I was going to have to sit there for the next three hours. I kicked my feet back and forth. I then got dizzy. I felt light headed and then my heart started racing. I couldn't concentrate. I was trapped! The owner's wife and family were sitting nearby, near the restrooms (I sat in the back near the door, in case I needed to plan my escape route).

As the owner talked, I heard muffled sounds. I couldn't concentrate. I continued to plan how I needed to get out of my chair, go to his wife and explain that I thought I was about to die. I was frozen. I didn't want to dig around in my purse and fish out some Klonopin. So I sat there expecting to pass out. I thought, "I need this job. So God help me, if I have to pass out, I will, in order to keep this job." And I don't know how, but I made myself calm down.

Of course, yay for me, but I then thought, "How the hell am I going to do this on a daily basis?" At the end of the night, I had another "episode". We were waiting in line to discuss availability and I got really dizzy. Luckily only two people were in front of me, so I was able to manage. I cried on the way home.

A week from tomorrow, our boss is taking the employees and spouse, significant other, etc. out to dinner 45 miles away, to show his appreciation, welcome us, etc. We are to ride together. I seriously don't know how I am going to do this. I don't want to say anything to him - I don't want to discourage him regarding my work abilities.

I honestly don't think I can handle this. If I have to quit one more job, I'm running away. I can not take any more disappointment with my family. I feel like if I run away and am alone, I will have no choice but to suck it up and stop being a fucking loser.

Highs and Lows

Common symptoms of low blood sugar (and any illness) are so general:

  • trembling
  • clammy skin
  • palpitations, pounding or fast heart beat
  • anxiety
  • sweating
  • hunger
  • irritability
Looks a lot like anxiety symptoms, right?

So when my blood sugar got down to 48 today, I thought I was going to die. It took me by surprise because I had just eaten and had about three cookies and milk an hour or two earlier.

I had severe anxiety before I knew I was low. Often when I am at a store and feel strange, I test to see if I'm low. When my sugar is 130, I feel a bit disappointed, having no real reason to feel nervous (except the fact I have a hard time leaving the house).

My point.....side effects that are listed for anything are so generic. There are so many other symptoms that may occur (which is why I am terrified to start new meds). For example, today my stomach hurt really badly before I got low. This has happened several times before, but I never really put two and two together. I still felt like something major was wrong. The same thing when I get a panic attack: every time I panic, it feels like a new time and that something is severely wrong. Today, it was only after I tested my sugar, that I began to calm down, realizing I was low and that I wasn't dying. I had proof of my anxiety.

This sounds so strange, but every time I get blood work, I beg to have something wrong? - - no wait, before I jinx myself (OCD coming out), let me clarify that I don't want something to be wrong!, I just feel like if my thyroid is out of wack, that explains the racing heartbeat. Or if I'm having hot flashes, my hormones are screwed up. Or trembling and nervous because I have diabetes. There is a reason for my anxiety.

But I don't have a medical reason for my panic attacks. I don't know why I can be fine for years at a time and then relapse with full blown agoraphobia - trying to tell myself it's just anxiety. Just anxiety - easier said. I've gotten this to go away before, but I haven't been this bad since I was 16. I start work (outside of the home) tomorrow and I'm really scared I'm going to fuck it up and quit. I've had so many jobs I can't even remember.

Why can't I just tell myself it's just anxiety? I mean, if I can freak out and tell myself I'm dying every time I panic, why can't I switch my brain to say "Stop it, anxiety. You're fine...."?

I read one of those programs that cost a ridiculous amount of money (a friend let me borrow it), which says to meditate and tell yourself (and the anxiety) to "bring it on". The program says that when you welcome the anxiety and ask for it to appear, then your mind doesn't have anything to be afraid of and it passes. Don't waste your money. Us in the panic world can't afford to pay for bullshit.

8/30/2010

Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands

Everybody cares, everybody understands
Yes everybody cares about you
Yeah, and whether or not you want them to
It's a chemical embrace that kicks you in the head
To a pure synthetic sympathy that infuriates you totally
And a quiet lie that makes you want to scream and shout

So here I lay dreaming, looking at the brilliant sun
Raining its guiding light upon everyone

For a moment's rest you can lean against the banister
After running upstairs again and again
From wherever they came to fix you in, but
Always fair city's finest follow right behind
You've got a pretty vision in your head
A pencil full of poison lead
And a sickened smile illegal in every town

So here I lay dreaming, looking at the brilliant sun
Raining its guiding light upon everyone
Here I lay dreaming, looking at the brilliant sun
Raining its guiding light upon everyone

You say you mean well, you don't know what you mean
Fucking oughta stay the hell away from things you know nothing about

8/24/2010

Slower

Slower, by Mineral

It's been so long since I've been by myself
And I need this more than you will ever know
People like you and me never felt the breeze
People like you and me will never know the easy way

I scream into the wind and laugh
As the words slap me in the face
I would gladly trade a lifetime of convenience
For and honest day or two

It's just not the same when you're staring
Into a perfect golden sunset
And thinking about how you sold your soul
To send the rain away

It's been so long since I've stood on my two feet
I'd really rather lay here and pretend
But people like you and me never get that peace
It comes from denying that everything is so screwed up
It's so screwed up

I stand on a building and throw up my arms to the sky
I swallow my pride and admit
That it's not always best to understand the reason why

It's just not the same when you wake up in the morning
With a smile on your face
When you know you lied yourself to sleep to make it better
To make it better

Clindamycin

I have a prescription for Clindamycin I carry in my purse, which was dispursed to me 4/19/2010 (when I got a wisdom tooth removed). I was given a couple of prescriptions. One prior to surgery and I had another for after, just in case. I didn't need to use it, but I still carry it. I'm really fearful of infection, so I can't throw it away. I feel like if I throw it away, or don't carry it with me in my purse, I'll get an infection.



Seriously. Who does this?

8/13/2010

I used to be such a burning example.....



This album sets itself apart from the rest of the albums made by Brand New. While I love all of their albums, I am not a fan of the newest one (this song is not on the newest album, but the one previous), but this song fits tonight.

"I used to be such a burning example
I used to be so original...

I used to pray that God was listening
I used to make my parents proud...

I used to know the name of every person I kissed
Now I made this bed and I can't fall asleep in it......"

8/05/2010

I Feel Weird



This has been a favorite band of mine since 2003. Singer Jack suffers (or maybe suffered) from anxiety. I loved them before I knew of the anxiety. I tried to find an article regarding the subect, but failed; I'll keep looking. However, back in 2007 or 8, I emailed Jack (back before they got too pretentious to accept emails) and we chatted a bit about our anxiety. I wish I still had the emails (see two posts prior regarding the fact I am delete-happy). I remember it was on myspace that we emailed, but I deleted my account because myspace sucks.

While this band has gotten a little too popular for my taste, I still love them (I am so in love with this band). Trampoline is an album about his anxiety, especially the song "I Feel Weird". It also deals with the death of Jack's sister and cousin, 9/11 and a break up; I believe Jack dated Scarlett Johannson. The album is deep. The new self titled album took me a bit to get into. It would probably mean more to me if I knew what it was written about. I tried to email regarding the s/t'ed album, but like I said - they are too good for emails now. Or maybe I'm just being a baby.

Lyrics: "I Feel Weird"

Delete, Backspace, Edit

I get in these moods where I want to delete my blogs, or edit my content. I feel so silly sometimes posting. But I really wish I could go back years and see what I was thinking. So, I'm happy I'm blabbing.

I have a 14 year old and while he won't be interested in going over scrapbooks I make or journal entries that I make about him, I am proud to say that he starts high school on Monday! We went to his high school tonight to meet teachers and check out the campus. I popped a Klonopin, so I was good to go. I actually didn't get nervous because I knew it wasn't a structured event. It was free roam, go as you please, walk the halls.... so I was comfortable. I was actually jealous! I'd totally go back and start over.

If I knew then what I know now.... damn, things would be different.

8/01/2010

There's Always Tomorrow, Hopefully

Tomorrow I'm going to "do this" or "start that". I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago and haven't even started my Zoloft yet. Previously mentioned, I have a fear of taking medicine (allergic reactions, bad experiences, horrible side effects). So tomorrow is the day I prepare to take my medicine. By prepare, I mean give myself notice. Tomorrow I will plan on taking it Wednesday. Instead of feeling guilty about not taking the Zoloft, tomorrow I will begin my new work out plan.

I hate exercising with Panic. I used to run and often my heart would palpitate. I asked my FNP, Jenny Miller (who was a real bitch) and she would just say "Then don't run. I hate to run." Thanks God the other FNP came back from maternity leave; the one that actually liked her patients. She did an EKG and it was fine. Although I still think there is something wrong with my heart (which is why Jenny probably couldn't stand seeing me).

When my heart palpitates, I tend to lay down. Sometimes when I bend over, I can feel my heart skip. Writing about it makes my heart speed up a bit. This is why I want to start walking on my treadmill - to make my heart stronger. Either it will make it stronger or I will have a heart attack, right? :) Okay, joking aside - see, with my OCD, I want to erase that because I don't want to jinx myself. Eeeeeee, that makes me nervous. I may go back and edit that out later (not that anyone reads this blog).

Moving on..... oh yeah, my heart. Usually my resting heart rate when I go to the doctor is over 100. 116. 122. 142!! That's because I am in a panic. But at home, it's still in the 80's and 90's. It used to be in the 70's. So I read that by exercising, it could lower the resting heart rate where my heart won't race anymore. My husband runs and his heart rate is in the 50's or so. This constant racing heart can't be good. I know, I should have tried the Atenolol, which would regulate my heart, but I want to try the treadmill. Plus, the Atenolol was also for high blood pressure. I don't have a problem with that (unless I'm at the doctor and it spikes a little).

I'm 5'4" and 110 pounds. So I read that if you're smaller, you could also have a normal, faster heartbeat. I'm hardly close to the size of a bunny or an infant.

It feels like no one in the world could possibly understand all of this. I feel like my life is so out of the ordinary. Does anyone in the world feel the same way as I do? Ugh!

7/26/2010

New Job? So much Pressure.

So I freaked out at my new work-at-home job. When it was time to get on the phone, I had a panic attack. I froze. My heart started palpitating. I wanted to just go hide under the bed. I'm no shrink, but I guess I have a fear of messing up? All of these "What if this happens" questions ran through my brain when it was time to take some calls. I think I may have messed up my job there (and this is a good, reputable job that I got). I'm waiting for my manager to call me and she hasn't! So what do I do? I think the worst.

"They probably want me to quit."

"They think I suck."

"They don't know or care what panic attacks are."

And then of course I pretend to all of my friends and family that I'm doing really well! I can't even hold a job AT HOME!!! I'm 34 for God's sake!!!

Today my heart is really freaking out on me: palpitating, beating fast, fluttering. Last Monday when I went to the doctor my heart rate was 98. The nurse was like "WHOA!!" and I started crying. I seriously cried from check-in until I left and got in the truck. I can't help it! I get so overwhelmed and want to just cling myself to the doctor and yell "Please help me get better!", but he suggested another SSRI. Zoloft. First he suggested Buspar, but seeing that I had OCD and GAD and Panic Disorder (and probably a deep down depression), he wanted to try Zoloft first. This was my first appointment since I have moved from Tennessee. I really like him. He suggested that he doesn't think I will get better unless I take medicine. I told him I wanted to try a natural route, but he said he can't back up that plan, since vitamins aren't approved by the FDA.

I asked the nurse if she treats a lot of Panic patients and she said "Not as bad as you!". I cried - again.

On a random OCD note:

Yesterday I fixated on my left hand's fingernails. I swore they were blue. I couldn't stop looking at my nails.

And you know it's bad when your husband leaves the sealed lid to the creamer on the counter so I could tell it had been sealed. Can't remember if I blogged about going through the trash one day to look for the coffee creamer seal? Yes I did.

7/07/2010

Nesting

Getting out of bed in the morning helps prevent my panic attacks tremendously. I woke up this morning about 9am, took a shower and felt good enough to start cleaning the house. Once a month I think I get in that "nesting", cleaning mode. I'm trying to log it so I can look back and compare.

I had my 1/4 tablet of Klonopin about 10:30am. I had gotten out of the shower this morning and felt hot. My face felt like it was really red and I immediately thought "fever". I calmed down and cleaned the entire house while watching three hours of back to back Desperate Housewives. Can you believe I've never watched this show? Actually, I watched a couple of episodes when the show was in it's prime and I didn't like it. I generally don't like mainstream, over-hyped things - BUT I usually end up liking them later! Eeek, please God, don't let me like Lost later in life.

About 5pm I finally laid down on the bed and started watching TV, while checking email, work stuff, etc. My heart started racing and pounding. I wanted to take another Klonopin, but I didn't. I ate dinner and tried to calm myself without allowing myself to make it worse. Every time I panic I feel like "This is it. Something is really wrong this time." I felt like I was going to have a heart attack - again. I couldn't concentrate or think. Or get words out. I felt like my blood pressure was up, which was causing my heart to race. No matter how much I try to convince myself it's panic, I still feel like it isn't. And the worst part is, today was such a great day. I wasn't thinking about anxiety. I felt really good. And the panic comes on randomly, for no reason! Such a bitch!

And yes my Thyroid is fine. I have it checked every 6 months or so. And my sugar wasn't low. I was prescribed Atenolol, but am too scared to take it. Have you read the possible side effects?!!

The OCD Project

So I applied to be on "The OCD Project", on TV! My mom told me I should apply, since I need therapy with my panic attacks and OCD, and I don't have insurance or the means to help myself. The taping would be for October and Robert said he would go with me for support. I feel like 'what I have' is something I can only understand, even though millions of others deal with the same thing. Where are these people when I need you?

When I was 17 I was homebound for a year. My panic prevented me from leaving the house. That same panic is back for some reason. I feel the same as I did back then, that it's never going to go away. And it did, back in 1993/94. I still can't get it past my OCD brain, that I can live a normal life again.

The major problems I have are:

Leaving the house:
I take Klonopin for my anxiety. Since I'm afraid to take meds, I am prescribed the lowest dosage (0.5mg) and I take a quarter of a pill a day, on average. I try to take 1/4 every other day, so I am not dependent on it. Even when taking 1/4 of a pill, I panic for about 30-1 hour after I am out of the house. Once I calm down, I constantly worry about when I will get nervous again. Low blood sugar sparks my anxiety, so I make sure I carry food. Some days I fall into the 40's-60's, which spikes my anxiety 100%.

Contamination:
I have a phobia of chemicals, food contamination, getting bit by a scorpion/spider (even though I obsess about NOT killing bugs), expiration dates, medication interactions, breathing in harmful chemicals, dishes not being clean (especially new, just bought dishes), safety seals (I even wrote Walmart a letter about their safety seals), ventilation, ink getting on my skin, cat hair.... once I wouldn't eat my Stout Cupcakes I made, because the mix was made with 10 oz. of beer and I had taken 1/4 tab of klonopin prior. You get the point?

Grudges:
Some things I just can't get over. Like when my mother-in-law was a bitch at my wedding to my parents and me (and continues to be), my uncle Jim being a dickhead (long story), Gene Priest (no big deal, but a douche), my brother's ex girlfriend, Emily (keying his car, his iPod and iPhone, while being a BITCH to live with), Robert's ex-gf writing slutty emails a month after we were married (even though she's married with three kids), my maid-of-honor complaining the entire time she had to lift a fat, lazy finger at my bridal shower/wedding, the whole Old City Java fuckover..... I'm sure there's more. Forgive and forget? Nope.

I don't have a normal life right now. No one gets the panic. And I don't think anyone cares.

7/04/2010

A job? What is that?

I worry.... no, I - - wonder - - what it's going to be like Tuesday when I start my new job. My new job is a work at home position. I'm sure everyone in the world would be happy to work at home (and I am, don't get me wrong). It's a blessing in disguise, this job opportunity. I don't think I am capable of going out and working in the "real world"; my anxiety is too unexpected and too unpredictable.

This is a big change and isn't a cure, but it's a start and it will definitely help. High expectations follow. I have no excuses as to why I would quit my job (not that I'm going to). I'm working from home (I'm IN my safe zone, right?)! So yes..... I worry.

Music: Steel Train's "I Feel Weird"

Revise // Orientation was great and I'm super excited! This job is through a major company, it's stable with growth opportunity and I feel very positive about it!

OCD, ADD, GAD....

While busy trying to figure out everything I "have" wrong with me, I can't stop thinking about where I left the sour cream from Thursday night. All afternoon I have obsessed on where the sour cream went. It isn't in the fridge, no one else touched it and I don't remember throwing it away. Something is fishy. I'm tempted to look in the dumpster outside (and I probably will tomorrow), just so I know I'm not going crazy.

At least I'm thinking positively; the sour cream container was half full.

6/01/2010

Sophomore Year

In tenth grade, after running away in 9th, I changed schools for a fresh start. This is where the panic attacks began on a regular basis. Sitting in class I felt my heart begin to race. I felt like I was being smothered; I couldn't breathe in class. I couldn't concentrate.

That year was crazy. The school was a joke. Gangs, jocks, goths, stoners, etc. The list goes on. I was, what South Park makes fun of, a goth. It just worked for me. I had a bad attitude and I didn't want to talk to anyone. I was miserable with my panic attacks. Who has panics attacks in 1992; a teen, no less?

My best friend was Michelle Ward. I had other friends for a short time: Meredith, Rikki, Brandi. The first two were bitches, of course. Michelle and Brandi were pretty cool. I didn't talk to them about my problem, though. I just went with the flow. Pretty much the crow around me dropped acid, smoked cigarettes, had sex and God knows what else. I had a boyfriend named Bill, who was a total loser. He broke up with me because I wouldn't have sex with him. No loss for me. Again, I was out of my league. This wasn't who I was. And I didn't settle for any less. I didn't have sex. I didn't want to do drugs (although I was laced AGAIN, but managed to not have such a bad time as the first). I smoked cigarettes here and there and I skipped school. I don't even know how I passed that grade, but I did.

I remember going to a teen goth club where I was laced with something that made me feel drunk. It was an underage place, so alcohol was not allowed. But I danced and danced that night (and I don't dance). Then I felt drunk and just - different. Someone told me that I was laced with something called a purple heart. After that, and until this day, I never leave my drink unattended. Than one night I had had it with everything and someone gave me something to take. Knowing I was terrified of drugs, I put it in my mouth and immediately became nervous. I went outside, spit it out and then called my mom to come and get me.

I had several panic attacks (and back then no one knew what was wrong with me), but managed to make it to the end of the year. My friendship fell through with Michelle, my best friend - I think because I didn't want to be a "goth" anymore, so I made up a reason to stop hanging out. She hung out with witches and I just didn't see myself going down that path.

Junior year, I was going back to Arcadia High School, the school I ran away from.


Sophomore year, with my best friend Jeremy (Jeremy and I were BFF's since I was 14, but he lived in Phoenix - I in Scottsdale)

Childhood Fears (Flying)

When I was 14, I ran away from home. I went to my mom's brother's house, flying from Arizona to Missouri. I could go on and on the reasons, but it isn't important to anyone because that issue has been resolved years and years ago. I remember being scared to go on a plane, since it was my first plane ride. Things only have to happen once for me to hold a mean grudge. In this instance, it was a plane ride. The plane from Phoenix to some major city in Missouri was okay. I got seated right behind the pilot. What was that suppose to help with? Anyway, it was the small 6 seater plane I had to take in order to get to the next airport. Let's put it all together now: 6 seater, night time, storming, major turbulence, everyone crying, nervous pilots..... all I could think about was the story of Richie Valens; however, we made it.

This began my fear of flying.

I went one ONE more plane ride, May of 2007 from Knoxville to Arizona, to visit my parents with my husband. I was pretty scared the entire time, but got some nice shots from the air. Plus I was proud to have gotten through it, but I will never get on a plane again. It's just too much work and not worth it.





5/03/2010

Wisdom Tooth Removal

As Mischa Barton's character in Sixth Sense says, "I'm feeling much better now..." after she throws up in Cole's tent. Granted I never threw up, but I am feeling much better. That quote was the first thing I could remember in describing my progress.

I'm filing this entry (and my previous entry "Cat Bite") in my 'Nervous' blog because, well, these past two weeks caused so much panic and anxiety, it's only fitting. And if similar situations happen to other panic-ees as mine have, I hope it helps. Although it does seem that things "only ever happen to me", which is why I write to make myself feel better, make sense of it, laugh at it, learn from it....... etcetera and so forth.

Looking back, it doesn't seem a big deal; however, a few days before the consult, I was terrified. Having panic attacks, I never know when I'm going to be "bad" or simply "a little nervous". Stress seems to have a mind of it's own when it comes to my body. The stress comes on full force a week after the cat bite ordeal, a heart rate of 142 at the doctor and a little over a week to pack and move across country.

The consult appointment, I went in trembling. I could not stop shaking. "You know this is only the consult, right?" I knew, but I was still terrified. At this point I wasn't even getting my wisdom tooth out. I had an infection in my back molar, which had already been worked on by my dentist - twice. it had a curved root, which ended up being a lost cause. I was also on antibiotics for a month between the tooth infection and the cat bite. When I finally went in to talk to the oral surgeon, he said "That wisdom tooth needs to come out, too. Okay, see you back here in two days."

I felt like I asked a million questions, but they never seemed fully answered to me. I mentioned, probably, fifty times that I had major panic. So I was prescribed two Valium an hour before surgery and one the night before. Nervously, I took a half a Valium the night before and one and a half the day of. For two days, though, I dreamed I would die, there would be complications or I'd develop an infection after.

I did great with the Valium. I was more worried about the $580 credit card charge we racked up right before moving. What a cluster that was. We couldn't find our credit card that wasn't expired..... we had to go home and find it and come back and transfer money and.... it was a nightmare. So once squared away with money, I go back to the room, sit down, give my weight and chat. The IV Sedation had to go in the opposite arm of the infected cat bite; I had already made sure of this per doctor's orders. I'm asked what pain meds I want, and I tell them the weakest one they have and next thing I know, I'm waking up.

I don't remember anything past chatting with the nurse, but recall waking up with double vision. I remember crying because I had double vision. What I don't remember is shaking violently to where my husband thought I developed Parkinson's. I asked if it was okay to cry and then asked my husband to take a picture of me. Again - this I do not remember. See the lovely photo below:



After surgery I asked a million questions, all the same question. I got home and felt great. I felt great the next day, mopping the floor, cleaning, packing, etc. It was the third, fourth and fifth day that I felt horrible. I took two pain pills (out of 16), but they made my nose itchy, so I ended up just taking Motrin. The office said the third day is usually the worst, which it was. I lost 5 pounds and even managed to pack our moving truck with the help of ONE friend and my husband ONE week after my surgery.

It sounds easy, what I went through, and I guess it was - to normal people. To me, it was the end of the world, and I was terrified. Put it this way, I have to have another wisdom tooth out (it's inflamed) and I'm equally terrified.

Cat Bite

The month of April of 2010 was a rough one. I was laid off after giving over a month's notice at my job (my husband and I are moving back to Arizona in May), so I decided to volunteer at an animal shelter. Actually, I hadn't planned on volunteering. I've been caring for a stray cat, Jinny, since winter; and she happened to get pregnant. I originally contacted several shelters to see if they could take her and her babies once they were born and old enough. Every shelter was full, of course. Since I had been laid off and had over a month's worth of time to spare, I figured it would be good to volunteer at one of the shelters. It would get me out of the house and help with my panic attacks, be great for a reference and I'd have an "in" for Jinny and her babies. Plus, it was a no kill shelter.

I started at the shelter 4/2/2010. I was there four to five times a week. I got to know the kitties pretty well. I came to love them, since I worked with the same ones day in, day out. Monday, May 17th we had four new arrivals, since we had a few empty cages: two kittens, one cat under a year and another 5 year old cat.

Wednesday, 4/21st, was my first day back since the arrival of new kitties. I was excited to play with the new arrivals! I went ahead and cleaned three cat cages before letting the new cat out, Van. Van was meowing, expressing how badly he wanted out of his cage. I felt bad for him; he really wanted attention, so I decided to clean his cage next and let him out to play. As soon as I let him out, he was rubbing up against my leg, meowing, loving up against me. I pet him once or twice while I was working on cleaning his cage. Next thing I know, I was standing up and he comes over, stands up on his back feet, stretching his front paws up to my knees for me to pet him. I reach down to pet him and the next thing I know he's biting my arm. Hard! As he's biting my arm, near my wrist, I realize he wasn't letting go. I started to freak out, imagining him clamping down on the veins in my wrist. "I'm going to bleed to death when he lets go!" I feared.

As fast as this all happened, my life was flashing before my eyes because I had no idea why this cat was biting me so hard - and I had no idea why he wouldn't let go. I screamed as loud as I could, but Van bites down harder. I feel my left arm go numb and then my thumb and index finger begin to tingle. Now I'm in shock, I believe. The animal shelter is located inside PetSmart (PetSmart is legally separate from the shelter and simply allowing animals to be adopted at their store). If one has been to a PetSmart, the cat room is usually a small room with glass and soundproof. I know this because when I screamed, the customers outside didn't even look over at me.

At some point, Van lets go and runs underneath the cages. I immediately go to the manager's office and tell them I've been bitten by a cat. They instruct me to call the shelter and report what has happened, while suggesting I go to the ER. My arm begins to bleed pretty badly and I've got four holes in my arm the sizes of erasers, as well as scratches from where he apparently reached around when he was clamping down on my arm. My arm is still numb and tingling, so of course I begin crying hysterically. A PetSmart employee tells me that he probably hit a nerve and I need to go to the ER. I call the shelter to let them know what happened. While I'm on the phone, the manager cleans my arm up and wraps it so I am able to rush to the doctor.





I call my doctor, but they can not get me in until the end of the day. My arm is in intense pain. The shelter approves me to go to a Walgreens walk-in clinic. By approve, I mean cleared for insurance purposes. As a volunteer, I will be treated as a workman's comp case. Walgreens instructed me that my wound was beyond their expertise and referred me to an urgent care. Urgent care then referred me to the ER, since I needed X-rays and had possible nerve damage. I called my doctor to cancel my appointment and to let them know I needed to go to the ER.

So I end up at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, which I should have known NOT to go to, but it was the closest hospital. I was scared beyond belief, could not use my left arm or hand (it was swollen and I couldn't move my fingers) and could barely drive. I used to work at Fort Sanders. The surgical techs from 2005-2006 were the most incompetent group of people. That is another story. However, like I said, I was in pain, I could barely drive, I was bleeding and I knew some of the well trusted pathologists there. If I had to, I'd give them a call.

Dr. _______ was super nice, but apparently a cat bite wasn't considered an emergency to him. I had an X-ray, which came back fine, given a tetnis shot and sent on my way. No one asked me about rabies, no one cleaned my wounds (well, eventually someone did), no one gave me an antibiotic, animal control didn't contact me and no one contacted the animal shelter to discuss a workman's comp case. One girl (I don't think I'd call her a nurse) put a splint on me, since the doctor mentioned nerve damage. He wanted to keep my fingers straight so the nerve could at least heal. But before placing the splint, she did not even clean my arm. The ONLY respectable person out of that entire place was the nurse that checked me out. She answered my questions, she made that "girl" come back and clean my arm properly and she, at least, showed some compassion. The doctor told me to come back if signs of infection appeared. Signs of infection had already appeared! Redness, swelling, joint stiffness, fluid under the wounds.... and not to mention it was a horrible cat bite that went into my nerves and muscle tissue!

After leaving the ER, I called the shelter to let them know I left the cat room a mess. I was told that no one else could make it back there to clean up. I hadn't even given the cats water after cleaning three of their cages. So what do I do? I go back to PetSmart, one handed, to clean up the mess that was left. If someone would have told me that PetSmart would have helped me out, I would have gone home and rested. I was hungry, had a headache from crying, tired. I was still a bit scared because the ER hadn't given me an antibiotic. Go figure, though. I signed a paper that all doctors were privately contracted with the hospital and would get bills from the doctor, the hospital, x-ray and something else. Of course they wanted me to come back. Anyway, I talked to the shelter and they didn't feel comfortable with the ER not giving me an antibiotic and told me to call my doctor.

Back at PetSmart, I called my doctor to see if I could come in the next day for a checkup of my arm. Long story short, some of the phone people at Interfaith are assholes. They are so rude. Not all of them, but a few are ALWAYS rude and don't listen. I wish I remembered her name, but she said "Your appointment wasn't canceled. You have an appointment at 5:30pm."

"No, my appointment was at 3:30pm today and I canceled it. Are you sure?" I asked her. This wasn't the first time they have told me the wrong thing, so I wanted to be sure.

"Today is Wednesday the 21st. Your appointment is at 5:30pm!"

I go home, let the dog out that I'm fostering, and head back over to my doctor's office. What happens? I get there and they tell me I do not have an appointment! I explain what happened and told them I called at 2:30pm and the lady who answered told me my appointment was at 5:30pm. Then I look over and the bitch is talking shit about me, saying that wasn't what happened.

"EXCUSE ME?!!!", I shout at her. Then I start crying to the guy up front, explaining it all over again and ask him to just make me an appointment for the next day. He whispered to me that he'd get me in.

I finally see the doctor and, of course, she puts me on an antibiotic. She couldn't believe the ER doctor didn't give me an antibiotic. The next day, a red streak started tracking up my arm. I couldn't get a clear shot of it. The redness increased the next day and the fluid under the bites were so painful. I couldn't move my wrist or my fingers for about three days. Within 48 hours, the red streak disappeared.



By Friday, the 23rd, my arm began to pus. I had a major panic attack at the doctor with my second checkup. My heart rate jumped up to 142. I feared the antibiotic or the infection was causing my increased heart rate, but the doctor reassured me that it was simply the stress of it all.



A week and a half later, it's healed pretty well. The doctor said she wasn't sure how long I'd have nerve damage, but hopefully it will heal. The bite that hit a nerve, if touched, still sends a tingle/shock down my thumb and into my finger. And if I use my arm a certain way, it's painful.

Volunteering is a wonderful thing to do. It's rewarding and it's so incredible to help others, but if doing so, please make sure, before hand, the injury policy. The shelter is suppose to pay my medical bills, but it could take weeks to do so. They have been great, so far. But I'll relax once I know my bills are paid (I received the bills and it totals $1000). As far as the cat, they isolate it for 2 weeks and then are putting it back out for adoption.

Still a fan of cats, though. Just not that one.

EDIT // 6-17-2010: Animal Works continues to avoid phone calls from their own insurance regarding my Workman's Comp case, causing my claim to be denied. A safety policy needs to be implemented regarding bites, should this ever happen again to another worker.

4/17/2010

Childhood Fears - Looking Back (PCP)

Freshman year of high school was a turning point in my life. It's usually a turning point in any one's life, right? This is truly where my life changed, though. This one instance changed my life forever. Up until this point, I loved school, my friends, my parents, my life (eventually I'll rewind and cover religion fears), etc.

I had been best friends with Nicki since, roughly, 6th, 7th and 8th grade, going into freshman year. Nicki had other friends I like to call minions or followers. They had been friends for years because they lived in the same neighborhood. I also had a new friend that moved onto my street. She hated my new friend and I didn't really care for her friends because they wanted Nicki to themselves. Paula, Jennifer and I don't even remember the others. They were all bitches. My new friend, Renee, was the nicest person you could ever meet.

Before Nicki and I grew apart and she turned out to be a two-faced bitch, she had this brilliant idea to try pot for the first time. I think I agreed because I figured it was a way to get closer to her again. We also started smoking; again Nicki Chisnall's idea. Back when I was 14, I could go buy smokes; anyone could. So we used to go smoke on the racquetball courts at Arcadia High School. Sugary sweet Nicki was a black sheep. That girl had some sort of a power trip and she also made herself feel better by making everyone else feel like shit.

Nicki conned me, of all people, into finding some pot. She even gave me the connection; Candice's brother. I don't know why I had to buy it. It was her idea! She knew my parents were the strictest parents on the entire planet, too. I was terrified!

So this bitch talks me into trying pot for the first time, making it sound like it was some sort of special pact all of us girls would do together and remember forever. So I end up with the pot, and everyone else changes their mind. Jennifer Mocerino and Amy Wells somehow got involved and offered to "hold" the pot so my parents wouldn't find it. I figured they just wanted to score some free pot, so I gave it to them. They could have it.

Before I gave them the pot, and after everyone bailed on me, I tried a bong hit with my "dealer" Candice. I went to Candice's after school, she taught me how to use a bong, I ran around the apartment complex for a bit, laughing, and then my mom picked me up after work. I believe Jennifer came over to pick the pot up. I don't remember.

Jennifer and Amy have an idea to go to the movies on a Friday night where we can all smoke the pot in an alley and then go see a movie. We sat in a dirty alley where they found a coke can, poked holes in the side, bent the can in half a little, sprinkled some pot on top, lit it and held the can opening to my mouth. I remember thinking that this sure was a ghetto way to smoke marijuana. I also remember they kept making me smoke hit after hit and they didn't smoke any. I just remember thinking it was strange. I wasn't even really good friends with these girls. I was losing my best friend and I guess I felt lonely. You know, peer pressure, blah, blah, blah.

The movie theater is crazy busy. We go to wait in line and that's when it happens. I freak the f--k out. Everything starts repeating itself. Jennifer looks over at me and says "So what movie are we going to see?" And that sentence loops over and over for about 40 times, where everything repeats itself, until I ran out of the theater line. They chase me behind a garbage can where I now think they are demons. I start pinching myself, tearing at my skin because I can't feel myself. I then start pinching and grabbing at them, screaming at them that they feel like rubber. I then scream that they aren't real. I'm hysterical.

Somehow they get me to calm down and get my back in the line. I start hallucinating again and sit down in the middle of the line at the booth, when an officer comes over and asks me if everything is okay. Jennifer then tells the policeman that I was upset and my boyfriend had just broken up with me. At that point, I was freaking out so badly, I walked straight into the theater where they ask for my ticket stub. "I already gave it to you guys!", I screamed. The girl, scared, let me pass.

I don't remember what movie we were suppose to see, but I walked into Dances with Wolves and sat down. "We aren't suppose to see this movie, Tiffany. Let's go!", they whisper. I sat on the isle chair, grasping it with all of my strength, closing my eyes in order to not see anything else frightening. I wouldn't say a word.

However long later it was, the movie was deliberately stopped, the lights came on and about 6 firemen came in to take me out. I thought they were demons wearing hoods and black masks. I thought they were trying to take me to sacrifice me to the devil. So I held on, with all of my might, to the movie chair, as it took all 6 to pry me out of it. I was taken out by stretcher to the ER.

Before Jennifer and Amy disappeared with the pot, they called my mom to tell her I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and didn't know why. Bitches.

The hospital was another story. Apparently with PCP, people may have the ability to show extra incredible strength. I definitely was stronger. I still thought I was going to be tortured and while they wanted to pump my stomach, I clamped my mouth as tight as I could and wouldn't open it. They had no idea what was wrong with me and I refused to talk. In fact, I pretended to be passed out, while super humanly clamping my mouth shut. Makes sense.

You name it and it happened. I thought my doctor was Jesus. They thought I was insane. I was about to be sent to a mental institution. I think my preacher was there telling me that I was going to hell. My mom showed up and said she may send me away. I imagined needles that were two feet long and nurses holding them in front of my face. I hallucinated the doctors and nurses making fun of me. It was an actual nightmare and I thought I'd never wake up from it.

After they finally managed to pump my stomach and clear my system with IVs, I started to come out of it. The doctor told me that I had PCP in my system. Police and doctors said I was a guinea pig. I don't remember what happened after that, who got in trouble or what happened to Jennifer and Amy. I didn't go to school for a few days, but when I got back, everyone was concerned. I even heard that people wanted to kick the dealer's ass. I just wanted it to be over with, so I just didn't talk about it anymore.

And this is the other 50% of why I am afraid to take any medicines or drugs. And this is why I am firmly against the legalization of marijuana.

This happened 20 years ago and even writing this post today makes my heart race with anxiety.

"Farewell to old friends
Let's raise a glass to the bitter end
Farewell to old friends
Will you be the same when we see you again
"

Childhood Fears - Looking Back (Penicillin)

Fast forward to middle school. This was when I had an allergic reaction to penicillin. For some reason I needed an antibiotic. A couple days after taking the medicine, I developed itchy hives. I thought it was from playing outside in the grass. A day or so later, my entire body became sore. I couldn't move any of my joints. Finally my parents took me to the emergency room. My mom had to change the clothes on me and dress me; every movement I made was painful.

The ER thought I had some sort of Valley Fever. They didn't know what was wrong. "Hello? Check to see if I'm allergic to an antibiotic that I just started taking!" Had I been OCD back then and realized it, I could have figured it out for myself. For a week or two later, I had to take about 40 steroids to counteract the reaction to the penicillin. I felt like a real life baseball player.

I had to walk on crutches for about a week and it was pretty embarrassing trying to explain why, since I had no visible cast for people to see. I never wanted to take an antibiotic again.

99% sure this is where 50% of my fear of taking medication comes from.

"It's the goals in your mind that you left behind.
From the glass is a crutch on the path to always losing touch.
If you blur it just enough you might see what you want.
Now the dirt from the yard blew away so far.
Growing more each day 'til we saw it became a mountain range.
And I just stared and blinked, wishing I could change."

4/01/2010

Childhood Fears - Looking Back (A Beginning, Part 2)

Getting back to the second part (and what will more than likely be a continuous analysis) of WHY I have anxiety, or at least where it came from. After the move to Arizona, my youngest brother and I transitioned into the public school system and my older brother to high school. In Missouri we attended a private Christian school, which I happened to love.

We settled into an apartment right when we arrived in Scottsdale, AZ, waiting for the sale of our house to go through. I remember, if I recall correctly, we started school mid-year. I was in 2nd grade and met a wonderful little friend named Alice, who was Japanese. What I remember about 2nd grade were the crazy amount of girl scouts. I didn't get it. My parents were definitely way too busy for that sort of nonsense. Besides the millions of girl and boy scouts, I liked school. 2nd grade never presented a problem; I mean, it's 2nd grade. However, my best friend Alice moved away and I met another girl, Violet, who lived down the street from me. Convenient.

Skip to 3rd grade. Mrs. Cook was the sweetest teacher I could ever ask for. I guess I had some balls on the first day of school, because I walked right up to Violet, who happened to sit in the front row because she wore glasses. I said, "Hi Violet, do you want to be best friends this year?" and she replied with "Yes". There. My year was all set; I had a best friend.

Very soon after beginning 3rd grade, I got sick. And I'm not talking about my teeth. Okay, I can explain that one. First of all, I can't even begin to explain the ridiculous events that took place in that grade: lice checks, which weren't done in private, but right smack dab in class (not that I was worried)! God knows some lice would've definitely caused some future anxiety if I were sent home with it. But no, poor Jeremy was "the one" who caught that bug; bad rep all through grade school. Back to my teeth. We had a dentist come to our class for some sort of "health week". One would think a dermatologist would make it, considering we were kids and all we did in Arizona was swim. But no, a dentist and someones parent, I'm sure. How embarrassing (for me anyway) to get in a line and watch everyone say "Ahhhhh!" while the dentist blurts out "You have about five cavities, Tiffany" and then have everyone look at you in disgust. "I already know that. I DO have a dentist", as sarcastic as a 7 year old could respond with.

Despite semi-passing health week, like I said, I ironically became very ill. I thought it was a cold; a REALLY horrible cold. Mrs. Cook noticed that I was trembling and that I also couldn't keep enough Kleenex nearby, so she sent me to the nurse's office. Next thing I know, my aunt has me at the doctor's office. It gets a little blurry from here, but at some point I had a really high, high fever. Maybe this explains why I can only recall bits and pieces of the order of events. I think I went to the doctor and then straight to the hospital. But I also remember being thrown into a bathtub of cold water, by my dad, in order to reduce my high fever. There were several tests/testing and never will I forget the horrible experience I had under anesthesia. My "dream" was of me running to the center of a flashy spiral - and the devil was chasing me. Right before I reached the center of the spiral, I woke up. This should have been a clear sign to never try anything hallucinogenic.

Fall of 1984 I was admitted into the children's hospital and spent the next few months there. My homework was brought to me, I had the best visitors (like clowns that made animal balloons) and my roommates were kids with their tonsils taken out, complaining they (felt like they) were dying. "Uh, hello? I was dying!" I don't know who was in charge of assigning kids to rooms, but seeing several patients go home per day, sure didn't brighten my mood. Oh yeah, I was diagnosed with some sort of rare kidney disorder that I think I was born with? I don't even know. I just remember my doctor didn't know what he was doing and that I was dying. I really wasn't scared about death. Well maybe I was. I'm sure I was terified. I asked a lot of questions about death and I certainly didn't want to die. I do know that I was scared of sleeping alone in that dark, lonely hospital bed. Sometimes my parents didn't spend the night, so my (new) doctor would come in every night and hold my hand until I fell asleep. I loved him. Not only because he saved my life, but because his name was Dr. Katz. Even back then I was a cat lover. I was released shortly after Christmas.

I'm not really sure if I have Post Traumatic Stress/Panic from this event, but I do know it's a very important part of my life. If we had not moved to Scottsdale and dealt with some really extensive testing/treatment, I do not believe I would be alive today. However, I do believe this is just the beginning to my fear of dying, as well as my fear of anything medical related.

So now that I was out of the hospital, we got right back to focusing on those cavities....

3/31/2010

Childhood Fears - Looking Back (A Beginning, Part 1)

As a small child, I don't recall being outlandishly nervous. I played like a normal kid. Acted like a normal kid. Did well at school. Got along with my family. Sure I was afraid of the typical cowboys and Indians hiding in the forest when I went to sleep at night (I'm the youngest of three brothers). And I recall hating my bedroom walls. They were some sort of wood which had the "eyes" in them. I always thought they were staring at me. But, at least I had my brother to protect me from the cowboys - or was it the Indians I was afraid of? Regardless, I had the normal childhood fears for the most part. I was never afraid of monsters under the bed, mainly because my youngest brother was under my bed (I got the top bunk). However, I felt like I was a pretty normal kid with pretty rational childhood fears.

If you knew me now, you would have never guessed that I was born on a farm. My parents did not allow us a TV to watch, but we did listen to records and/or the radio, which I clearly remembered The Statler Brothers or Don Williams as my favorites. At age 6, my brothers being older, I remember us helping in the garden picking green beans, corn, and several other fruits and vegetables. I helped right along with the scorpions, garden spiders and garden snakes, none being a bother to me considering they were gross! I'd eat fruit right off of the vine. I'd swim next to water snakes in the river. I'd gladly hop into an over sized tire (without first checking for dirt or spiders or other germs) and roll down to the bottom of the hill. I guess I seemed fearless compared to now.

Now, I can't even think of taking a pill that has fallen onto the floor of my very own apartment (goes in the trash). Or not check my shoes for spiders before slipping them on. Or eat fresh produce from the grocery store without soaking them for hours. Or feed the birds without worrying about catching some sort of bird flu. When H1N1 (supposedly) became rampant my aunt gave me a surgical mask as a joke. I placed it on the rear-view mirror of my car in case I needed it, half-jokingly. More to come on this subject later.

I don't recall being terrified until the age of 7, moving from Branson, Missouri to Scottsdale, Arizona. On our long drive across country, we hit a terrible, terrible storm around Payson, AZ. I believe it was from the 1983 Tropical Storm Octave. My dad was driving the U-Haul with my youngest brother and I, and my mom and older brother were driving in the Ford Escort, license plate #BRW-437 (don't know why I still remember that). I also remember all of our phone numbers, too. These were times you only had one phone and one phone number. Let's see:

Missouri: 334-0039
Scottsdale: 990-7213
Tempe: 592-0153

And well, I won't give you my parent's newest phone number.

Moving on, the storm was so bad, it was reaching dark and we're on the top of a huge mountain with roads that have no railings. "This should be illegal", I thought. "We could fall right off this mountain!". And we nearly did. The wind was blowing us around so badly, rain was slamming down onto the window so loudly, I thought this was it. I remember my mom waving her arms out of the Ford, hair blowing in front of her face, shouting for us to pull over. We had to pull onto the side of the road, which would only fit the huge U-Haul and tiny Escort while we waited out the storm. I mean, you step out of the truck and one false move, bottom of the mountain you go. I was so panicked, I had covers over my head and Ray Stevens blaring from my tape recorder. I was a crazy 7 year old, praying aloud, hysterically crying and shouting "God, please don't let us die! Please don't let us die!" My brother and dad comforted me silently as I lay there like an insane mental patient.

This begins my fear of heights, mountains and storms. And where did we end up camping several times a year? Payson, Arizona, of course.

To be continued....