Thursday, June 2, 2011

Panic Attack!

I knew anxiety pretty much goes hand-in-hand with Tourette Syndrome, but it still didn't prepare me for the major scare that Monster Man gave me Tuesday morning.  It was early in the morning.  Little Man was playing the Wii and Angel Baby was still asleep.  I was taking advantage of the quiet, lazy morning.  I sat on the couch, working on my computer, doing the first required assignments for my online classes, which were due to start the next morning (I like to get ahead as much as possible).  When Monster Man woke up, he came downstairs and curled up next to me on the couch, his head resting on my shoulder.

Within a few minutes of walking down the stairs, he started shaking uncontrollably.  He balled up almost in the fetal position, still keeping his head on my shoulder while bringing his knees to his chest.  He continued to shake like that, gasping every few minutes.  When I asked him what was wrong, he said he didn't know.  All he did know was that he didn't feel right and that he was struggling to breath.

He'd been experiencing some problems with anxiety the night before, so I figured the whole episode was anxiety related.  I had him breath deep, having him copy my examples in an effort to calm him down.  I considered calling his pediatrician, but I knew if I was advised to bring him in that he would never let me get him in the car and drive him there.  He wanted me to hold him, to reassure him that he'd be okay.  Instead of getting up to make the call, I decided to continue the breathing exercises with him, all the while running my fingers through his hair and keeping one arm wrapped around him.  After what seemed to me like forever but was probably only a matter of minutes, he fell asleep in my arms.  He stayed there, sleeping in my arms, for about 15 minutes before he woke up feeling a lot better but still exhausted.

In asking for advice, I discovered that panic attacks are not uncommon in those with Tourette Syndrome.  I also found out that his behavior during the attack was pretty typical for those who have experienced them or have children who have experienced them.  It was a huge relief to find out that this was just another normal part of the TS, and that he isn't (as he started worrying after he had it) 'going mad'.  He's had two more panic attacks start to appear since then, but he has been able to control them with breathing and prayer before they got as bad as that first attack.  If he ever has another bad one, I've received some good tips on how to handle them:  deep breathing, warm showers, massages, and distraction techniques.

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