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tam335 05-21-2012 05:29 PM

Panic attacks post stroke
Hello everyone! I am so glad to have found this forum. I have been reading posts for days and they have provided such comfort. I hope that I will be of help to someone as you all have been for me.

I am a 49 yo female and was admitted to the hospital on 3/17/12. As I collapsed that day, I remember saying that it was not just vertigo. In the hospital, they informed me that I had ha 4 strokes, 3 in the cerebellum and 1 in the ociptal lobe. I suffered weakness on my left side in my arm and leg. I went through therapy and have recovered very quickly, physically. I planned on returning to work 5/15/12.

Since that day in the hospital, I have had what was 2 1/2 months later diagnosed as, anxiety attacks. I was referred to a therapist who proceeded to help me with understanding and accepting that I had had these strokes, and there was nothing found in the tests to suggest why I had had them and that I should not stop living to wait for another storke that may never happen.

Armed with this information, I returned to work and suffered the worst panic attack I have had since the strokes. I did not return to work. I saw my doctor a few days later informed her that I could not return until we worked on my panic attacks. I told her that it was like my brain could not handle the constant ringing of the telephones around me, the talking, people walking around and past my cubicle(I work in a call center). She(PCP) referred me back to my therapist who informed me that I would need to go back to work immediately and work through it.

I told her that I didn't feel that I was ready to handle all of this right now and that perhaps if I could get something to alleviate the attack or to help with dealing with it when it occurs, I would be glad to go back, as I have been bored to death at home. My PCP refused and so did my therapist stating that I needed to "dive back in and use the tools provided". They did not want to load me up with anymore medications.

They basically told me that I may have to return to work before June 4th, the deadline my therapist forced me to accept, if my PCP did not agree that I should continue to be off from work for another 30 days.

My issue is that I have only been on the meds since 5/18 and I have been suffering mild panic attacks daily since leaving the hospital and have not been able to drive the 45 minutes to my employment.

I don't want to lose my job, jeopardize my health and the safety of anyone on the road. I just need more time. I was on FMLA until 5/15, now, I just don't know what to do.

goldsworthy 05-22-2012 11:01 AM

Re: Panic attacks post stroke
I too had these attacks they started shortly after my stroke last December. My wife took me out to a restaurant for dinner. All the confusion noise and movements going on around me caused such a attack. Loudsound especially bothered me as it sounded distorted and made my head hurt. These panic attacks got less and less in intensity and eventually went away completely. I never saw a therapist just my MD. I am now working and driving with no problems. People I work with tell me that if I hadn't told them about my stroke they could not tell I even had one. Things get better don't worry I had a brain stem stroke and damaged much of my small brain stem. All I can say is it gets MUCH BETTER just keep trying and challenge your brain almost to the breaking point each and every day and you will grow in strength.

tam335 05-22-2012 11:15 AM

Re: Panic attacks post stroke
Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I am looking forward to that day. I have been pushing myself to stay as close to the cause of the attacks.

Mulchie 05-22-2012 02:19 PM

Re: Panic attacks post stroke
Welcome I am so glad you found us. Many of the symptoms you talk about are common with stroke. The panic attacks are common too. Just like Goldworthy said his head hurt because there was too much noise and activity around him. The brain is having to process too much and at a rate it can't do. Not ever just right now. You are so early in your recovery. Your poor brain has taken a hit and needs time to heal. As you read the posts you will come to realize your recovery is never over. Many of my symptoms have subsided as I continue to get stronger and stronger.
I found the relaxation yoga exercises really helped. I found a place in my home where I was in the quiet. Surrounded myself in things I love and in the beginning I would go there frequently. It helped me regroup. As my recovery has progressed I find I only go there maybe twice a day. Our bodies are creatures of habit. Make it a habit to relax and put your body in a relaxed state. As your healing continues you will be able to tolorate more and stress less. I know your board at home but is it too early to return to work? Our healing depends on the journey you take from this point. Do what is best for you. If you have to go back to work maybe shorter days to start. I dont know but I do know where you are now is not where you will be 6 months from now. You will continue to improve and progress as long as you move forward. Really try to get the panic attacks under control because the absence of panic and stress is the presence of healing and control. Please keep posting God Bless Mulchie

tam335 05-22-2012 04:03 PM

Re: Panic attacks post stroke
I feel so blessed to have found such comfort in the responses I have received. In a strange way, it is comforting to know that others have shared or are sharing my experience. I know I need to take the time to heal and physically, I'm almost completely recovered. I no longer have the pain in my left shoulder radiating down my left side to the bottom of my left foot. I no longer flop my left foot when I walk, but control the step. I'm walking more and enjoying it now that I have my orthodics in my shoes. My dizzy spells are a lot less, now that I control my movements, instead of just getting up or turning quickly and walking. I still have daily dizzy spells that just hit me out of the blue but they don't last as long.
My biggest issue right now is the panic attacks and getting them under control. I know I can do it, I'm a fighter/survivor and I have the support of my new found friends.

writeleft 05-23-2012 12:55 PM

Re: Panic attacks post stroke
Hello Tam, and I too welcome you to our family of stroke survivors.

I too have ended up with anxiety disorder following my 4 strokes 9 years ago now. I find mine seem to come at all different times, even in the middle of the night.

Although I am not a fan of medication, I have found that the best way to end the anxiety is a small dose of medication. My strokes left me with several major medical issues, including end stage kidney failure, heart attack, a few severe sleep disorders, and this darn anxiety.

I agree wholeheartidly with the others, who suggest to take your time in your healing. While your physical issues may seem over, your brain takes much longer to re-route all those blood supplies that have been lost, and to begin to function properly again. Some areas of your brain simply shut down, or a impaired until the blood supplies are back intact, sometimes taking months or even years.

Although it is many or our first responses to jump up and get back to life as we knew it, life after stroke is a new life, If your doctor does not approve you to take further time to recover, I would seek out another doctor. Doctors have very differant reactions to the needs of our emotional and other recovery. Just being able to move our arms and legs again does not signify total recovery.

Going back to work too early can lead to failure, which is not what you want or need. Taking the proper amount of time to recover is the most important thing you can do for yourself.

We are so happy you have found this pl;ace too. It continues to provide so many of us with support and the personal experiences of so many survivors. who understand it all. Since very few doctors practicing are stroke survivors themselves, they often cannot provide much of the information that you can find here. That is not to suggest that you should not always confer with your doctor, but this ia such a great supplement to your medical care.

Keep posting, and feel free to ask anything, we are here to help.


tam335 05-23-2012 03:57 PM

Re: Panic attacks post stroke
Wow Janet, that was right on point. I thank you for your welcoming words. There are days that I believe the doctors ---everything is back to 'normal'. Then, the stuttering begins, unable to recall events, unable to find the words I'm looking for, headaches when I try to read or read too long, know the list continues. Then I remember, oh yeah, I had a stroke. Fortunately, it's not a setback when I remember, it just explains why things are happening to me and I tell myself "it will get better". Of course, I get impatient, as I'm sure we all do, but I look back to where I was two months ago and see how far I've come and know that the road ahead is an adventure of re-discovering myself and reshaping the person I used to be, to the new and improved Cheryl.

Thank you again.

writeleft 05-29-2012 09:15 AM

Re: Panic attacks post stroke
Good for you! What a great attitude. I find that fatigue is one of my most vulnerable times, or when I forget to eat on schedule. I think all the medication makes those things all the more important. Another one I really have to watch myself on in lowering my head down, which it a hard one to avoid. I love to garden, and I cannot tell you how many times I have been bent over to plant seeds or something, and I end up plopping down on the grass to avoid passing out. I have to always remind myself, oh that I should not do.

AS far as the anxiety, mine has been greatly bothered by the recent passing of both my parents, and then dealing with my sister, who has decided this would be good time to fight me with her lawyer for my parents belongings. I really have to keep myself from responding with stress and anger, as those are what can really set off the anxiety.We just always need to have a plan to avoid unnecessary stress.

I have made a big point to keep my life very stress free, but sometimes it just comes knocking on your door!

Take good care, Janet

tam335 05-29-2012 11:43 AM

Re: Panic attacks post stroke
First of all Janet, I would like to offer my condolences on the loss of your parents. I will keep you in my prayers. Second, I will pray for your sister too. Maybe her actions are just her way of dealing with the grief. When my aunt passed, my mother fought me at every turn to try and help her. She wouldn't let my father or my other siblings comfort her either. Later she said it was because she was so hurt, angry and felt so alone and this was her means to protect herself until she could come to terms with the loss of her only sister. Sometimes, relationships can be improved when we are going through.
A positive aspect that has arisen from the strokes is that my mother and I are closer than ever. It's not that we weren't close before, but with my job and family, I saw her only weekly and called her a couple of times a week. Now, we talk daily, and see each other more frequently during the week.
I have been paying more attention to my anxiety attacks and am focusing on using them when I have them. I informed my therapist that I would begin with my two children, one who moved back home for a couple of weeks and at this writing, is now in her own place. She and her brother would argue and I would just have to leave the area because I couldn't handle it. I knew that if I didn't start dealing with this now, how could I ever go back to my current job. It's been tough, the little attacks, I now have under control and I'm working on when I am on sensory overload which produces even greater attacks. One day at a time. :) I'm even driving short distances, but not in heavy traffice as there is just too much activity at that time .
I too love to garden and I frequently find myself on the ground when I stand up suddenly, turn and begin walking, (two steps later) turn around because I forgot what/where I was doing/going, and suddenly turn around again. Force of habit.

We are all masterpieces in progress.


writeleft 05-29-2012 12:53 PM

Re: Panic attacks post stroke
Thank you so much Cheryl, I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.


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