We were having a bonfire in the backyard. I don’t even recall who “we” was exactly. Then came the sirens, so many of them. So many you knew it wasn’t the random run. We decided to chase, hopping in the car. Every time we seemed to get close, we’d hit a roadblock. The sirens were maddening, a drill over and over. We decided to drive up the hill overlooking town. Another roadblock, but realizing no one was tending it, we parked the car and ran on. We made the top and looked down over town. The sirens were loud even up this high. Plumes of smoke rose, distinctive against the fiery orange glow of the blaze, quickly disappearing into the night sky. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The entire town was on fire.
That is when I woke up. As if I was shook awake. I couldn’t breathe. I was gasping..but even that doesn’t describe it. I was almost gulping…that feeling before you throw up, and the hot saliva seems to begin pouring out of the pores in your mouth, and you start swallowing like mad, a last ditch effort to stave off throwing up before darting to the bathroom. That’s what it felt like. Frantic. I thought…this is it. I can’t breathe.
It wasn’t it though. I finally caught my breath. I started feeling okay again. I was staring up at the ceiling wondering what the fuck THAT was all about. With that the thoughts came. My trusty ol’ wheel of doom had spun and it was settling on blood clot. Seemed reasonable to me. I was able to dislodge it, now we just wait until it settles in elsewhere. I couldn’t breathe again. The thought pushed adrenaline into the veins. I jumped up, ran downstairs, took a Xanax and sat on the couch. It was 4:30am, and I remember at least seeing the sun before finally passing out. Sitting up.
These attacks used to be quite normal for me. Let me tell you, they’re terrifying. A panic attack is scary enough…but to be waken up from a sleep in the middle of one? It feels like the end. You’re a bit disoriented…your hearts racing and beating out of your chest. You can’t breathe. There’s so much going on and so much to think about as a you try to get control. It’s like waking up in the driver’s seat of a car that’s going a hundred miles per hour. In traffic.
I’ve beaten it before. It’s been maybe a year since I’ve had one this bad. But I’ve thought about it off and on all day. And now here I sit writing this, it’s midnight and everyone is in bed except me. And I’m scared to. I don’t want that to happen again. I don’t want that feeling. I’m not sure if I should sit here and write until I fall asleep, safe maybe but having to answer my wife in the morning all the reasons I didn’t come up to bed. Which will be anything but that I was scared. Or I’ll face it.
And hope I don’t wake up dead.