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A Year On From The Worst Night Of My Life


I have mixed emotions about writing this post. It's quite a personal one and because of that, I'm not sure if people reading it will really quite understand. But today is exactly one year since something happened in my life that has stuck with me, that and that at the time totally terrified me.

It's a strange one to talk about I guess, because the reality is is that everything turned out to be okay in the end despite months and months of being stuck in limbo and despite how terrifying it all felt at the time and I guess it feels a bit silly to share it all knowing that other people have and will face far worse things in their lives. But then it also feels wrong to watch the day pass, knowing how much of an effect this day a year ago had on me as a person. And so I feel, that for me, I need to take this time to have a bit of a big brain dump about it all. 

It all started late in the evening a year ago today, I was just finishing up watching television upstairs in bed. The boys were asleep in their beds and Adam, my Husband was downstairs in the living room playing the PlayStation. As I went to switch off the TV, I suddenly felt this huge rush of heartburn, I hadn't been someone who suffered from heartburn but I recognised the feeling because I'd had it a little bit in my pregnancies with the boys. I remember thinking that it was a bit strange but I tried to think nothing more of it. 

Within a few seconds though, I started to feel a bit numb on one side of the top half of my body and so I called Adam and I asked him to come upstairs. I hadn't said why I wanted him to come up so he didn't come at first (he told me later that he thought that I just wanted him to get a spider out or something), but I started to quickly feel worse and the numb feeling began to feel more intense, almost as if I couldn't move my arm or hand and so I phoned down again to him in a bit of a panic saying that I felt really not right and to come quickly. 

Our bedroom is a loft conversion and by the time he got up the two flights of stairs to me, my face was starting to feel numb on one side also and my heart began to feel like it was beating out of my chest. I'd experienced heart palpitations before, but this was like nothing I'd ever felt before - I  felt like my heart was going to explode out of my chest. I can still now remember how terrifying it felt to feel like my heart was outside of my chest. 

Unable to talk properly, feeling numb down one side and feeling like my chest was going to explode I  desperately tried to tell Adam what was going on. He phoned the ambulance immediately and all I could think about was how it was probably my time and that I was going to die. I totally believed at the time that I was either having a heart attack or a stroke and whilst I was terrified I just wanted to tell Adam how much I loved him and the boys. 

What happened next was like something you just couldn't make up - the emergency staff on the end of the phone had asked Adam to try and put me on so that they could talk to me and as Adam passed me the phone, he suddenly and very quickly dropped from where he was standing and hit the floor face down. 

As you can probably imagine, at this point my fear turned into utter horror and my mind turned straight to the thought that perhaps there was something wrong with both of us. Adam laid face down and unconscious on the floor for what felt like an eternity and the whole time whilst still feeling unable to move from the bed, I screamed down the phone about who I wanted our boys to live with. I truly believed we were both dying (as silly as I feel for writing that now as we both sit here healthy a year later). I think that moment was probably the lowest moment in my life so far. 

A little while later, I couldn't tell you how long, but it felt like forever, Adam managed to get up. He was bleeding and bruised and his glasses were bent. He stumbled down the stairs, before throwing up and he eventually managed to get into the kitchen to open the front door for the paramedics who arrived just at the same time and came flying in to grab the boys from their beds and get us out in case of a gas/carbon monoxide leak or something similar. 

At the hospital, where my in-laws met us there despite it being the early hours of the morning, we were all checked over. Our house had been cleared for gas/carbon monoxide and my heart test came back fine, as did blood tests. We came home a few hours later, confused, scared and traumatised by the whole thing. We had no answers, but we were okay and that's what mattered to us the most. 

In the days after, we came to the conclusion that perhaps Adam had panicked and passed out, or that he ran up our two flights of stairs too fast after sitting down for a long period of time. And I put what had happened to me down to the only thing I could think it could be following the clear results at the hopsital - a really, really intense panic attack. It didn't really make sense in my head though, as although I suffer with anxiety, I hadn't been anxious and it was nothing like other panic attacks I had had before. But I had no other answers or ways to make sense of it in my head. 

Over the next few days we did our best to get over it all and over the next few weeks I experienced similar 'attacks' completely out of the blue. I remember one was whilst I was dancing around our kitchen with my son in my arms as happy as anything, it didn't feel like a panic attack but I didn't know what else it could be. 

I went to the hospital in an ambulance once more after that - I was sitting at my computer editing a video and it came out of nowhere. I did my best to manage it at home, but my chest was racing so much I was terrified. It was after this 'attack' that the burping began. I realised as soon as we got home from the hospital that I was burping excessively - it was after every single sip of any drink. 

As the weeks went on, I would still get attacks and with them I'd often get really intense burning in my chest and around my chin. I spent every day frightened about my symptoms whilst also trying to find answers through my GP. 

To cut a very long story short, I was diagnosed with Helicobacter Pylori initially which is a stomach bacteria infection that can cause most of what I'd been going through. I was put on triple medication to try and eradicate it and also anti-anxiety medication which I asked for, to help me get over what I'd been through. Around that time I also started cognitive behavioural therapy which really helped me to let go of some of the health anxiety that had begun because of it all. 

A few months after things had begun to calm down, but I was still suffering from stomach problems, acid reflux and GERD so I was given an endoscopy and was diagnosed with having a hiatus hernia as well as gastritis. By this point, I'd seen a fair few different GP's some helpful and some not so much, but I finally saw a lady GP who seemed to have a good understanding of what I was going through and suggested that some of the attacks could quite possibly be esophageal spasms caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease which cause chest pain and can feel just like having a heart attack. The more I began understanding possible causes the better things started to feel, especially in terms of reducing my health anxiety. 

A year later and I still sometimes get similar attacks, though they are absolutely nowhere near how intense they were in the beginning. I have been left with excessive throat burping (as gross as that is to admit) and I suffer with GERD and reflux quite a bit too. I still think about what happened a lot, though it doesn't frighten me anywhere as much as it did at the time and in the months afterwards. I guess that that's a result of the time passing and knowing that even though I'll probably not know 100% what happened, I am here and very much alive. 

I have suffered a lot with health anxiety in the last year too and at times it's been absolute hell. I am scared of hearing my own heartbeat now and I get frightened whenever I feel it speed up. It doesn't help that I often have quite a pounding feeling coming from the pulse in my stomach, but I've been told that this is common to feel if you are slim and also if you have a hiatus hernia like I do. I've had to learn to trust my body again and not over-panic about every single niggle, wondering if it could be the start of the next attack. Though I remind myself frequently that even if it was, I've been through it before and I'll get through it again, as scary as the symptoms can be.

Writing this down feels very much like a slice of therapy, it's kind of nice to get it out and remember that whilst this past year has been full of times of uncertainty and moments that have frightened me, I've also got through it all and actually in a way, I feel quite a bit stronger for having done so. For me, the fear of it all was actually worse than the physical symptoms and overcoming that fear has taken a lot of time and strength. 

Even now, I'll sometimes wake up at night feeling like I can't breathe which is usually followed by an influx of bringing up gas and I used to get so frightened of it, so much so that I'd begin to shake, sometimes for hours and I'd get pins and needles in my fingers, but now when it happens, keeping my mind strong helps it to pass much quicker. I'll tell myself that it's just reflux and GERD and that my body is just fighting it off rather than working against me. 

It'll never be an ideal situation, but it could be so much worse and I know that for some people, it is. And when I look back over the past year I know that for that I'm really fortunate. I take a lot of reassurance from the fact that things got better - I know our bodies aren't built to last forever, but mine's kept me alive for this long (30 years so far) and remembering that is something that helps me to feel better whenever I start to feel a bit panicky. 

Thank you for reading. 
  Alex xo

6 comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing..... i can totally relate. From the major health anxiety to the h pylori infection every single thing i can relate to and getting hope that things will get better.. god bless you and your family

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  2. Bless you. It’s so scary when something like this happens. I remember my first panic attack. It was on a Christmas Day the first one without my Nan. It seemed to come from nowhere too. It started with pins and needles. (Which now making sense of things was probably because I’d trapped a nerve in my elbow) then sitting in my mother in laws bathroom thinking that’s it.the kid would forever remember Christmas Day as the day that mummy died. I still have anxiety. I think it will always be a part of me. Sometimes I manage it sometimes I don’t. At the moment I’m on a dip. But I know I will get through it. Like I have done coutless times before.

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  3. Oh gosh now that is scary, especially for you both with Adam just dropping like that too! I’m glad there is no Carbon Monoxide issues though x

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  4. Gosh has it really been a year? I remember you talking about this at the time and thinking how scary it must have been for you. I get a lot of anxiety with my health as well (partly due to years of misdiagnosis and poor medical treatment) so I can totally sympathise with how terrifying it is when your body doesn't work in the way it should. I'm so glad you've made progress over the last year and have got some answers for your symptoms. I think having those answers is often half the battle - I know my anxiety reduced when I actually understood what was wrong with me because I wasn't spending my time guessing what it could be (and coming to the worst possible conclusions!) Hopefully things will continue to improve for you in the coming months and your symptoms will bother you less and less *hugs*

    Jenny xx

    www.jaffacat.co.uk

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  5. Oh my gosh Alex this was horrendous to read. What an ordeal for anyone to go through but especially as a mum of two young children. I am so glad that they have been able to give you some answers and resolutions, I hope you're ok x

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  6. Sorry to hear about what you went through, does sound so scary. I'm glad that you've got some answers now and I think it helps to mark "anniversaries" like that in some way, to see how far you've come. I've had health anxiety since I was a teenager, I think it was partly triggered because my grandad died of Non-Hodgkins lymphoma when I was 13.

    Thank you for sharing. :)

    Zania
    x

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