Good grief.

Last night I couldn’t catch my breath.  My throat felt exactly like how you feel after sprinting outside in super cold weather – raspy and sharp – and I finally realized what COPD’ers really mean when they describe “air hunger”.

It took me a really long time to realize it was 1) happening, and 2) not going away. Finally, it got distracting enough that I couldn’t concentrate on studying, so I switched gears and tried a differential diagnosis.

It wasn’t an allergic reaction, because benadryl didn’t help.  It wasn’t asthma, because I took a stethoscope and listened to my lungs for like 5 minutes without hearing a wheeze and besides, I don’t have asthma.  It wasn’t GERD because I had no weird taste and no chest discomfort and again, I don’t have GERD.  It wasn’t a PE because I’m still alive and kicking.

Eventually I realized by process of elimination what any sane outside observer would have concluded in the first place – that I must be having a panic attack.

It was weird.  I’ve had panic attacks before, and I usually felt… you know, panic.

Why the heck would a panic attack happen without panic?  Is that even possible? What is that, the psychiatric equivalent of a painless MI or foot wound in a diabetic?

… do I have psychiatric neuropathy?

Eventually I fell asleep and had a nightmare that our medicine shelf exam scores came back and I needed a 70 to make honors and I only got a 68 so obviously my entire medical career was ruined.


I either need a benzo or a swift slap to the head.
The end of third year is officially driving me insane.

5 thoughts on “Good grief.

  1. Had one of those once – I didn’t feel PANIC until they decided to call an ambulance because I was probably having a silent MI. THEN the panic set in big time – nothing like an EMT to telling a person to “just relax” when they are in the middle of a panic. There is no such thing as “just relax” at that point in time.
    Hope you’re doing better now. Keep deep breathing, meditating, etc. and keep emergency meds nearby lest you wind up in an ambulance on the way to a cardiac care unit…

  2. Keep in mind: Panic is NORMAL under certain circumstances (like, say, a saber-tooth cat running into your cave).

    Panic attacks, however, can happen for no good reason- like you describe.

  3. I had one panic attack during finals in college. Had to leave the room and get a grip…it took a while. It sucked. You have my sympathies. I do want to point out that you can have asthma without wheezing. I’ve had some unfortunate ER encounters with physicians who couldn’t comprehend that fact. Usually the wheezing starts after the nebulizer treatment loosens up things enough for the air to, you know, actually move. These days I cough more than wheeze, but my O2 drops enough that no one argues with me a la “who said you had asthma?”

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