My Greatest Fear in Life…

I had one greatest fear all through life…. Pain! I did not ever fear death, but I feared the pain I would suffer prior to death. Now that I find myself three years into severe chronic pain, I can’t help but wonder, if this all has taken place, because of my greatest fear being pain. I would have to say that now, I would much rather experience the pain prior to death, because at the least, it would end! Do our thoughts manifest into reality? If so, then wouldn’t over coming the fear of pain cause it all to go away? Hmmm, interesting to say the least. Possibly, if I came to terms with this pain and accepted it completely without fear, it could all go away……

I am willing to guess the answer to that last question is no, but coming to terms with chronic pain would make life a bit more livable. Focusing on fear, I will talk about the things I have experienced in life that were full of fear.

For one, Panic Attacks…. Out of no where, they came, suddenly in 1995 I was riddled with acute severe panic attacks. In a three month time period I went from my normal strong self, to a terrified child. What began as feeling ill and under the weather, quickly became a surge of intense fear and panic. For no reason what so ever, I would become paralyzed and unable to move. Of course, it did not just start that way, it grew to this in a quick three months time. Much like coming down with the flu, I began feeling ill and under the weather, followed by episodes of tingling in my extremities. I felt like my body was quivering, as if I drank way too much coffee. Next my mouth became numb and vibrated. My heart raced and felt as though it would rip right out of my chest. I would get extremely dizzy and disoriented. This progressed each day for three months, until I had, what I like to call “A Full Blown Panic Attack!” At this point I was ill 24/7, like I had the flu and it would never go away. I would get attacks several times a day. Then, finally, on the day in August 1995, I had the big one. I felt like I was dying and no one would listen to me. The numbness, quivering, vibrations and tingling went throughout my body. My heart was trying to rip its way out of my chest. Breathing became labored and very difficult. I felt like I was having, what seemed to me too be, a heart attack. The fear gripped me and I firmly believed no one cared that I was dying before their very eyes. I finally begged to go to the ER and my spouse, at that time, took me. In the waiting room I felt extreme terror, pain and I could feel my body tightening up into me. I fell from my chair as the dizziness over took me. Someone got me into a bed and they checked my vital signs, then they placed me in a room by myself. I just knew I was dying right then and there and no one cared! I called out for the nurse in pure terror. After several attempts to get anyone’s attention, the nurse came in pissed off. She yelled at me, saying there were people with heart conditions there and I needed to be quiet. Then she just walked out of the room and closed the door. Within minutes my entire body was tensed up and tight, yet it curled in toward myself. My mother walked into the room and saw me, all retracted inward with lips puckered out and unable to move. I remember her sad look on her face and her saying, “Oh, Laurie!” Next thing I knew, I was taken for a CT scan and then when I returned to my room they gave me a shot in the butt and I felt like my entire body relaxed. That was when the doctor said they could find nothing wrong with me and she felt I was suffering from Panic Attacks and referred me to a psych doctor. I was in utter disbelief! There was no way I was just having a panic attack. I fought it for months. Because I thought a panic attack was much different than the life or death thing I was facing multiple times a day. It doesn’t help when everywhere you turn, they are saying how crazy you are. My husband then, was a royal jerk, he did not help me or support me and he was down right horrible to me. I did finally get the panic attacks to stop after eight months, but I was so terrified, I refused to leave my home. (And by the way, years later, that husband experienced panic attacks himself. But I was there for him, unlike how he was too me!). Which is why I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia. However, every two years those horrible panic attacks returned for six months straight and I couldn’t leave my home then entire time. I had to meditate daily and focus on relaxing to make it through the six months. I felt very sick the entire time, like I had the flu and it never went away. This continued in that pattern until 2001, when I decided I better go ahead and take some sort of medication to assist me with the nightmare of Panic and Agoraphobia. I have only had a couple full blown paralyzingly attacks since then, but I experience small episodes of panic several times a month to this day. I keep it all to a minimum by meditating, doing relaxation breathing and taking medication for it.

Another one, PTSD… In November of 2010, I was attacked in my front yard by a gang that was going after the neighbor. We were out front in our own yard, but my son and myself were beaten pretty good. They even shot a rifle toward my son and myself. I have been in constant pain ever since that day! I was diagnoses with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder shortly there after. I would spend a good six months gripped by the fear of someone busting into my house and attacking me. I could not even go in my front yard for many months and when I did finally go in my front yard, I had a bunch of weapons strategically placed around where I could easily get to them. To this day, I become extremely terrorized if I see a group of young men that resemble the gang that attacked us. Where I live, the majority of the people do resemble the young gang members that attacked me and caused me never ending pain. Needless to say, I do NOT like leaving my house, EVER! When ever I heard a gun shot, for a solid year and even some what now, I would immediately fall to the floor in terror. PTSD is definitely a fear encompassed condition. You are full of fear and terror.

There are two condition that are full of fear and reasons why I do not leave my house very often. I lived in Southern, Illinois for five years from 2003-2008. It is a farming community and beautiful country. The people are very nice and I never had to wait in line at the pharmacy, the bank, the little grocery store or the post office. I absolutely loved it there. It is the kind of place anyone with panic disorder should lived. I had my dream home and 12 acres of land. It was peaceful and so very beautiful. I lost all that when hubby #2 decided drugs and whores were what he wanted and not his family. Then I had to move back to Georgia, where I have always hated living! I didn’t have a choice. Seems I never have a choice. I had our original home there and I was loosing my dream home, so I had to go back to the crap hole. I wanted to be buried in that dream home of mine. I hate thinking about it, because it makes me so angry and so very sad.

And let’s not forget, Bullying! When I was ten years old (1979) we were moving away from the place I was born, New York. I lived in the beautiful country on the west side of New York. My father took another job and we had to move to Canada. I hated leaving all the people I ever knew. Canada was nice and the people were all very sweet. We only lived there for three months. Then my dad took another job and we moved to Northern, Illinois. That is where I was introduced to how horrible it felt to be bullied. The kids were all so very mean and seemed to just hate me. I made friends with a boy at the end of my street and one girl in my class. I am still friends with that girl to this day, by the way. Unfortunately, my friend that lived down the street from me decided to join in and pick on me at the bus stop, he even threw rocks at me. I had never experienced this kind of treatment before. I hated living there and wouldn’t you know, we lived there until I was an adult and had my own children. The kids were so mean and hateful. I would become very ill on Sunday nights. My mom said I was always getting sick on Sunday nights because I had to go to school the next day. You would thing that would of set an alarm off in her head that something was seriously wrong! Being called names, mistreated, hit with objects and having to endure pure hatred never ended! Not in Junior High or high School. I often wonder what my life would of been like if I never had to leave New York and all the friends I had. Of course, in high school I began doing drugs. I drank, smoked pot and took speed. Trying to hide from the pain of life or even trying to just fit in for once. I dropped out of high school in the middle of my Junior year. (1986, February) I was talking to the youth police officer at the local police department regularly and he even called my father and told him to just let me drop out. Surprisingly, my father did just that, but my mother was pissed off and I had hell to pay for dropping out. It was only a month later I found out I was pregnant with my oldest child. Sixteen and pregnant and forced into marriage….

I could write a lengthy book on all the things I have experienced and lived through in my life so far. But today, I wanted to talk about fear. Sure, there are many more things I have gone through that encompass FEAR, but I think I covered enough for one day…..
Below is a photo of my current husband and myself, taken on Thanksgiving.

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And my World Came Crumbling Down…..

While in the darkest of depressions, I have had even more crap laid upon me. I live on disability of $785 a month. Yes, it is quite hard to survive on that, which is why I never have much to eat. However, they took $315 from my deposit. It seems that due to the fact I received a few back owed child support payments, that put me into not receiving the extra help and I had to pay premiums for the last three months, which they took out in one deposit. When I tried to talk to them, they said they couldn’t speak to me because my address was changed on June 6th this year. WHAT? How does that happen. Then she proceeded to basically accuse me of changing my address. I ended up hanging up the phone while balling my eyes out. Yes, I am in so much pain I can’t take anymore! I GIVE up damn it! I wonder how long before they will throw us out of the house? How long do you miss mortgage payments before you are booted to the curb? I have no clue where my grandson will go…… I am hoping mailing in proof of my address will correct the wrong address on my account. No wonder I haven’t received any paperwork from social security. I think someone made a clerical error there! I don’t know how I will be able to go to the office here, the pain alone is making that impossible and I would have to find someone to drive me. All this mess won’t even be corrected until February of next year. That’s when they will do a review and update my information locally and I can get the extra help back on board. So three months I won’t be able to pay the mortgage. OMG!!!

I am TERRIFIED! I am in way too much PAIN! At least I don’t feel like I am starving right now. Stress does that for me. How does anyone even think I ended up loosing over 50 pounds anyway? Gee, let’s see, I don’t have crap to eat! God, please just take me now! I have survive so much crap….. When will it ever end?
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When the Pain Began…

I will never forget the day….. November 15, 2010! I had just returned from a trip to the store and my son was telling me how the neighbor had been into an argument with three teenagers. I guess the neighbor was outside, drunk and peeing on the side of his house. The teenagers saw him and made verbal comments to him. Then the drunk neighbor back lashed at them and there was a verbal confrontation. The neighbor and a few of his buddies chased the teens down the street. Then, shortly thereafter, a pickup truck drove by and threw bottles at the neighbors house. I was standing in my driveway next to my car as my son told me all of this. Suddenly, two vehicles came down the road quickly, then slowed to a roll in front of my house. The neighbor who had the confrontation walked across the street and was standing in the road at the end of my driveway. The two vehicles parked in front of my other neighbors house right to the right of us. I told my husband to go in immediately and call 911! In an instant, there were over a dozen thugs storming down the street. My son walked towards the end of our driveway and in a blink of an eye, the “gang” attacked. They piled on the neighbor and my son. In seconds the neighbor was down and crawling away to hide in his house with all his buddies who started this mess! Then the entire “gang” of 13 males between the ages of 15-21, piled on my son in my front yard. I didn’t even think, I just went to the pile and tried to pull them off of him. I screamed the entire time telling them how I had cameras all over my house! There was one female and she was swinging a crow bar into my sons head. I pushed myself as deep as I could into the pile to try to block all I could of the hits to my son. I remember thinking, “wow, I am being hit a lot in my head and back”. Yet it did not hurt at that time. At one point I lost consciousness and woke seconds later noticing I had urinated myself. Then the pile moved, they were getting up. As I stood and turned around I noticed one of them in long dreadlocks holding a large shotgun and pointing it directly towards my son and myself. He pulled the trigger and I felt all over myself to see if I had been hit. I couldn’t feel anything at this time. A neighbor about three houses down came out and shot his gun in the air. The “gang” began to run back to their vehicles. The girl threw the crowbar in the road. So I went for it to give as evidence to the police. I heard footsteps stomping closer to me as I bent over to pick up the crow bar. I was slammed and dragged down the road, road rash! The thug grabbed the crow bar and jumped in the truck and they left. It took a few more minutes before the police showed up at my house. I showed them the video footage of all the had happened. They roped off the area when they found the shell casing from the shotgun. At one point an officer came in and asked us if we knew why one of the thugs had his head bashed in. That is when my sons girlfriend stated she had picked up a brick and threw it at one of them in hopes of getting some of them off of my son. Later on, the police denied ever saying this to us. Because they never arrested a single person! The police department is a giant joke here!

I immediately had severe pain in my neck, along with the road rash and bruising everywhere. I also become extremely terrified and felt very unsafe in my home. After a week I went to my doctor because the neck pain was so bad and would not stop. They did an MRI and said they only could find arthritis and Degenerative Disc Disease. That pain has never stopped. I was on low dose pain meds and I tried to deal with life with the pain. Then about six month later my lower back became a serious problem. The pain so intense and I was unable to walk at that time. Back in for more scans and the same findings. What they found in the neck was through my entire spine. Put me on stronger pain meds and muscle relaxers when I started pain management. I had a serious of a dozen injections throughout my spine over a course of four months. The most relief I received was for ten days. I, to this day, suffer from severe chronic pain in my lower back, tailbone, hips and neck. I have sciatica as well. The pinched off nerves have cause the middle toes on both of my feet to become completely numb. I get pain down my entire left leg as well. I also get horrible crushing headaches that seem to come from my neck. Now, almost three years later, I am on two heavy pain meds and muscle relaxers. I have found that every year in or around September the pain intensifies even more and I become unable to walk. I have obtained some form of stability in my chronic severe pain, but I still suffer from it every single day of my life. Some days are not too horrible and some days are horrendous! I have had to accept that I can NOT do things as I normally would. I have to find things I can do to occupy my mind away from the intense pain. I have to do things mostly in a sitting down position, although, sometimes it can’t even sit down and I am forced to lay in bed. In order to dust I have to only dust one thing for the day. I have to sit when possible and move very slowly. I have to take breaks often as well. Doing dishes or vacuuming are the worst for the level of pain. If I am forced to do them because others in the house are lazy, I do so sitting as much as possible and then end up in bed the rest of the day and even the next day. I spent a solid six month freaking out all the time and peering out my windows. PTSD they said. For a year I couldn’t sit outside at all. All of this on top of my already intense panic disorder with agoraphobia.

And here I am today, still struggling with the intense pain 24/7. Still in pain management hoping they will find something to make it stop. Accept, when I go to the appointments, they seem to just rush me in and out! What a life! This is what I have to look forward to? Until the day I die?

When the Panic began….

It was Late Spring 1995… I was working my Accounting internship at a Landscaping business. I was responsible for the basic paperwork and accounting for the business while I was over seen by the Accountant who had been there for a while. Down here in Augusta, Ga it gets super hot in the summer. The one thing I immediately was worried about with this job, was that they did not have air conditioning. But, it was spring and only time would tell. The owners wife ran a little flower shop out of the Landscaping business as well. Everyone seemed pleasant enough. Things began to get weird, the owner was forcing everyone to participate in a prayer session in the mornings. I didn’t really mind that since I had my own prayers I was sending out during this time. Shortly there after, I noticed the owner was talking to himself in his truck every morning. He said that Jesus talked to him every day. To each is own I say! Then he began shutting my office door and locking it, putting his hands upon me and telling me that Jesus was coming to kill me. Me, being the strong minded individual I was, just ignored his BS and carried on. However, after about two weeks of this I noticed I started to feel sick all the time. At first I assumed it was due to the heat and all the chemicals that where in the building with me plus no A/C! Here is what happened in the beginning, for a typical day:

Wake up to my alarm. Get my three kids ready for daycare (at this time, May, school was out). Get everyone in the car and drive to daycare. While driving I felt dizzy or lightheaded. Arrive at daycare and bring kids in to there classes. The dizziness would get me real good as I would go to leave the building. Out of no where! This happened several times over the course of a week, getting worse each day, until I passed out in the reception area at daycare. I assured everyone I was just fine, maybe caught a bug and would then continue on my way to work. The entire drive I would feel very dizzy and ill. I would continue to feel dizzy and sick while at work and after the day I passed out, I started having to leave and go home to lay down. I would be there about 2 hours and then just feel so sick I had to go home. I would drive directly home and go to bed. Believing I surely must have some kind of bug! This happened for a few days, then I felt so ill I just couldn’t even try to go into work. My husband, at the time, would take the kids to daycare so I could rest and hopefully get over what ever I had. My kids were ages 3, 6 and 8 at this time. By the end of the next week, I had missed the full week of work and was still feeling very ill. Out of no where, I suddenly felt terrified! I found myself peeking out the windows like someone was out there and they were going to kill me. I became so terrified of this, that I then was unable to be home alone. I was scared to death and freaking out if I was alone. Mind you, I had three kids, was married and we all lived with my parents in a big house. All the adults had jobs during the day. I had one close friend and I would go over to her house (she lived on the street behind us) and lay in the bed in her spare bedroom all day, feeling sick, but had to have the door open so I could hear and see her. If she was not available I would take a pillow and a portable little tv and lay on the floor of my fathers office while he was at work. I have no idea what my parents or anyone else was thinking was wrong with me. I just felt very ill all the time and if I was alone I would freak out feeling super terrified, my heart would race and the fear engulfed me. Now, after about two more weeks of this all, I was standing in the living room, everyone was home because it was the weekend and out of no where I suddenly felt like my heart was racing so fast it was going to rip out of my chest, my lips become tight and numb, my arms and legs were tingling and I was engulfed in so much fear. Fear feeding the physical symptoms more and more. I was terrified! I just knew I was going to die! My husband took me to the ER when I requested to go, feeling I was going to just die at any moment. As I sat in the ER, I felt I was being completely ignored and I was dying! Next thing I knew my lips were puckered out, all my extremities were numb and I felt extremely dizzy, I fell forward out of my chair onto the floor. I curled into a fetal position! I was yelling in terror! The nurse got a bed for me to lay on and and quickly wheeled me to a room by myself. They shut the door! They left me there and took my husband to fill out paperwork. My fear overcame me to the point I just had to yell for help! “Help me Please!” The nurse came in yelling at me that there were other patients with heart conditions and I needed to stop yelling. I told her I was dying and no one seemed to care. She just left! At that point my entire body stiffened and curled inward. I was paralyzed, unable to move! Lips puckered out and my face was contracted. My limbs stiff and hard yet curled inward and bent. I could barely even get a sound out of me. Then my parents came in the room and I remember looking at my mother and her saying…. “Oh Dear…” They took me to have a CT scan and I was still paralyzed. The doctor came in and the nurse injected something in my butt, which I found out later was a muscle relaxer. It felt like my entire body melted. I melted and was no longer paralyzed. The doctor said the scan was good and she believed I was having a Panic Attack. She wanted me to go see a therapist, gave me the number and sent me home. Now I am thinking, Panic attack? I doubt that very much! Something is seriously wrong with me and no one gives a rats ass! But I kept having the attacks. Still felt sick 24/7 and had several full blown horrible panic attacks a day. Still unable to be alone. So I went to the therapist. She talked to me about panic attacks and gave me a prescription for Xanax to take when I felt the attack starting, I was to see her at least once a month but she preferred more often if possible. At this time, it was almost impossible for me to go anywhere. I would have an attack if I was in the car and if I tried to go to a store, I would have an attack. I couldn’t drive because as soon as I would get in the car I would have a panic attack. I was diagnosed with Panic Attacks with Agoraphobia. I did not like taking any medications and would only take ibuprofen when I was getting a migraine, but I gave in and took the Xanax when my next attack started, which was very often, every single day, multiple times a day! The horror of it all! You feel terrified, you just know your dying and the physical symptoms alone is pure torture! The Xanax would ease the panic attack so I would not be in a full blown, paralyzed state. As soon as I felt the heart racing and limbs tingling I would take one. Within 15 minutes I would relax some and not end up paralyzed. However, I still had multiple attacks a day, everyday! I was grateful to not end up paralyzed though. I still felt sick 24/7 and still was unable to even take care of my children. At this point i was two months into all of this. I read everything I could find on panic and decided I was going to do something about it, even though I still believed I surely was dying. I chose to make myself do guided meditations everyday whether I liked it or not. Every single day I did the guided meditations. I noticed after a month I was feeling not as sick all day and the panic attacks eased up by doin got he breathing I learned in meditation. I could go directly to bed and do deep rhythmic breathing and then go to sleep instead of freaking completely out. I did this for a total of six months and finally the panic attacks stopped. It was now the end of January and as fast as the attacks came on, they were suddenly gone. I was thrilled! I found a job and graduated from college and then we even bought our own house. However, like clockwork, my panic and agoraphobia would come back every single two years. I would immediately do the meditations, but still would feel sick 24/7, however, the meditations did help me cope with it much better. They started in 1995 then they came back in 1997, lasted six months and then stopped. Only to return again in 1999 and last six months then stop. And again in 2001, which was when I decided I needed to be on some type of medication in hopes of stopping this cycle and I went on Paxil. The Paxil made it all a bit more tolerable but I was still agoraphobic!

In 2003 my oldest son died in a car accident, age 16! I guess the grief and depression over ruled the panic that year and I was in bed for six months. Since then I have found that instead of coming on out of no where every two years and lasting six months, I have problems with panic and agoraphobia at any given time and day. I can do great for a month, then wham I am freaking out. I have been on a few medications since my sons death. I moved away for five years then moved back to the house I owned. While I was gone I had a great team of doctors and therapists and I was on a good combination of medications, but when I came back here they refused to prescribe some of the medications I needed and put me on different ones. So I had to find a way to cope with life now. I Rarely ever leave the house, I Do Not drive! I basically stay home and mostly in my room. I take Ativan for the panic, which I have to take every day and cannot just take when an attack comes on! Sucks! I am on Effexor and I take Trazadone to sleep since I also have insomnia! My way of coping is to not leave the house unless I feel like I want to go to the store for something. I take my medication on schedule and I do NOT look at people while I am out. I found pretending no one is there is the only way I can be in the store. I don’t see anything that is going one there! I just go to where ever the things I need are and then check out and go home. Unfortunately, I also have severe chronic pain now. So on top of the Panic with Agoraphobia and Anxiety disorder with Severe depression, I also have to deal with severe chronic pain every day of my life! But that is a entire different subject than what I am on today… We all have to find a way to survive and cope with our disorders. I say what ever you find that works and has you in the least amount of physical and emotional pain is right choice for you!