So I was driving to pick up something for dinner tonight, and I started to feel kind of funny. I felt a little short of breath, and the left half of my sinuses started getting stuffy. I thought it might have just been because I was driving around the lake, and there was some extra pollen and humidity in the air. Then I started getting a little light-headed, and the muscles started aching in the left side of my neck. It was feeling more like a panic attack.
But why? I was just driving; no accidents or bad weather. It was feeling like the last attack I had on the bus a few weeks ago. I closed the windows and fired up the useless AC, in the hopes that it might do something about the humidity. It seemed to help a little, and I was breathing a little easier. By then it didn’t feel like I was chest-deep in water. Maybe it was asthma or some such, triggered by something in the air? I focused on my breathing, and kept driving. I considered going into the store instead of hitting the drive-thru, just to breathe in air-conditioned comfort.
By the time I got to Taco Bell (it was for the kid, not me), I was feeling well enough to tolerate the drive-thru. I realized while I was sitting there that my chest was pounding, all PVC-like. I checked my pulse, and sure enough – beat, nothing, SLAM, beat, nothing, SLAM. PVCs, over and over, at a much more frequent and regular rate than usual. Hello, hypochondria!
Actually, I managed to keep it in check. After the briefest of “OMG I’m in trouble” moments, I quickly realized that I was feeling okay otherwise; breathing was back to normal, no dizziness or weakness, etc. I just did a half hour of weight training last night, the best I’ve done yet – my ticker can’t be that busted!
I wondered if the PVCs were actually the cause of the “panic attack”, like the racing heart I get during a sleep apnea attack. Maybe there was an irritation of the vagus nerve that interrupted signals (noting that all the problems I could feel were on the same side again). Maybe I’d been slouched over in the car seat and pinched something off. I sat up and wiggled around a bit, throwing a few punching bag fists to loosen up my shoulders and waist. I checked my pulse again. Beat, beat, beat, beat, nothing, SLAM, beat, beat, beat, nothing, SLAM, beat, beat, beat, beat, half-hearted blugh of a beat, thump…
Better. Acceptable, even. As I continued to wait my turn, I kept moving around in my seat, and the space between SLAMs got wider and wider. Eventually, I had to focus on driving again, and I felt normal.
So, the next question is: which way are these things related, if at all? Do the extra PVCs cause the panic attacks, or are they triggered by something else, which then causes an increase in the PVCs? I guess it’s time to be more mindful of the symptoms to see if there’s a connection.