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I Genuinely Thought I Was Having A Heart Attack Last Night

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Last night, as I was in bed, drifting off to the flawless record that is ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ by Oasis, I felt an odd jolt strike down the left side of my chest – right across my heart. I sat up a little bit, confused as to what I had just felt, and seconds later, another hit me…this time, strong enough to lay me back down.

“This isn’t…a heart attack…is it?”, I asked myself.

Now, I should preface this by admitting that I am a hypochondriac – FOR SURE – but I’ve also got a pretty good track record of knowing what’s wrong with me. So I thought, “Let’s be rational about this, Bob”, and ran through the possibilities of what may be happening in my head:

-Did I smoke too much weed before bed?
-Maybe this is just all of the junk I ate today, paired with the combo of losing a lot of weight in the past few weeks?
-Could this be a kind of really intense panic attack?

Oh, and I should mention, these are all sorta related. Allow me to explain…

I’ve been going through a bit of a tough time recently. I let my panic disorder snowball out of control in 2018, which brought my anxiety and depression back with it – and with a vengeance.

The panic attacks started really hitting me hard in March, going from being an extreme rarity to a daily certainty at the speed of light, and I quickly started turning down some cool work-related opportunities because of them, or just struggled to fulfill everyday Barstool activities like hopping on radio for a few minutes without throwing up on air. By mid-December, it was officially a struggle to leave my apartment without a world-collapsing-in-on-itself panic attack setting into motion, and I could barely operate as a human being. I would cry and throw up for hours every morning, never eat or drink anything, cry some more, isolate myself completely, and go to bed. Rinse and repeat.

I could’ve been much more pro-active in seeking help, but I prioritized work and some other responsibilities in front of my own mental health, and thought, “I’ll figure this out when I have the time to.” Wrong move, without a doubt, but ya live and ya learn, like Alanis has always said.

Eventually, after my family held what was basically an intervention for me, and I reminisced back on a year I realized I should’ve enjoyed, but dreaded all the way through, I decided that it was time to put myself first, and requested a little bit of time off work to do so. Erika and Dave genuinely couldn’t have been more understanding and supportive when I did, and I’ve now seen some professionals, have been put on new medications, am practicing meditation, and am working towards eating right, working out, and just generally having a better, more proactive mindset. I’m not all the way there yet, and would by no means call myself “better”, but I’m getting there.

I returned to work with the New Year (#NewYearNewMe) on Wednesday, and after getting through three days of not isolating myself, not sobbing my eyes out, not throwing up, and not having a general feeling of all hope and optimism in the world being lost unscathed…I decided to treat myself.

As soon as Trent and I got back to our apartment yesterday, I broke right into my nearly untouched candy from Christmas. It was gonna be a Kit Kats for dinner kinda night. And it was. After a few hours of filling our pieholes with garbage, watching documentaries, television shows, and stand-up specials (a typical Friday night in this household), we went to bed. Separately, of course, perverts. And here’s where the weed comes into the equation. I smoked a TON of pot as soon as my head hit the pillow, again, in celebration of making it through the week and feeling on the path to getting better. This isn’t necessarily abnormal for me, though, as I’ve smoked before bed almost every night for well over a year now. Helps me fall asleep and ignore the negative thoughts usually plaguing my brain at that time of night. Plus, I asked my new psychiatrist about using marijuana to cope with stress and anxiety, and he assured me it was fine after telling him instances in which it’d helped in the past.

I thought, can’t be the weed…it’s probably not the junk food…and this doesn’t feel like a panic attack, so I better look into this. I googled “heart attack symptoms”, read through the general list of ‘em, and concluded that I was not, in fact, having a heart attack. I didn’t have the shakes, the numbness in the arms, the cold sweats, none of that. Just those two quick pains in my chest, and maybe a little lasting tightness otherwise, but that’s it.

I was calm during this whole process, too, really never too worried about this being a life-threatening issue. So…time to go back to sleep!

Here’s where shit hit the fucking fan.

You know that feeling you get when you stand up too fast after you’ve been sitting down for a long time? Your vision kinda blacks out and goes blurry, you feel a little tingly, and maybe you’ve gotta grab a wall to get your senses all back and functioning? That feeling hit me like a ton of bricks, while I was laying still in bed, but came with ten million times the intensity I’ve ever felt it have throughout my entire body. I was now INSTANTLY sweating profusely, as well, and I couldn’t see shit. This is where the panic set in, because I realized I was either experiencing all of the same symptoms that Han Solo did after being released from the Carbonite in ‘Return of the Jedi’, or I was having a fucking heart attack.

I fell face-first out of bed and into the door to my room, struggled greatly with opening it, and dragging myself ever so slightly into my living room when I did, calling out for Trent with the scariest words I could possibly imagine coming out of my mouth.

“TRENT…I THINK I’M HAVING A HEART ATTACK.”

At this point, I blacked out completely on the floor. I came to, still in pain, and still blind, just seconds later, and vaguely remember him being in the middle of a sentence, prompting me to cut him off, dramatically calling for help once again.

“DUDE I’M HAVING A FUCKING HEART ATTACK, PLEASE GET OUT HERE.”

Trent stumbled out of his room, just feet away from where I was sprawled out on the floor, sweating my ass off, and tried to piece together what the fuck was happening in front of him.

“Dude, what’s happening? Talk to me. What is going on?”

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I caught Trent up to speed on all of the symptoms I’ve taken you folk through in this blog, threw out the possibility of having just smoked too much weed before bed, and as I’m talking him through this – I felt my arms go numb. Both of ‘em.

At this point, my chest tightened even more, and I felt more petrified and vulnerable than I have ever felt in my twenty years of life.

I looked at Trent, tears in my eyes, and ordered him to call 9-1-1. In that moment, every fiber of my being believed that I was about to die, and I was fucking scared. I wasn’t ready to die.

Demanding Trent to call 9-1-1 freaked him out tremendously, as it should have, and he told me that he would, but only if I was absolutely positive that it had to be done. I repeated myself a second time, telling him about my newfound numbness in my arms – and now, my spine – and he asked me if this could possibly be an extreme panic attack. I could hear his voice trembling, and his fear only multiplied mine. I pretty much went into denial and accepted his suggestion that I was having a panic attack as a fact, even if just for a few seconds. I asked him to look up the symptoms of a heart attack, he told me he knew what they were and that he didn’t think I was having one, instead that this was a panic attack, leading me to tell him where to find my medication. I needed my “as needed” pill, and I needed it now, because whether or not it worked would decide whether or not this is a marijuana-induced panic attack, or – my worst fear – a heart attack.

After fumbling around with a bunch of RX bottles for a few moments, he just said, “THEY ALL SAY ANXIETY, I HAVE NO IDEA WHICH ONE YOU WANT”, but eventually found the right one. I took it, still shaking, and still on the floor, started taking deep breaths, and stood up to walk around our apartment in attempt to regain my balance and vision. After a few minutes, everything started slowly getting better: my eyesight…my balance…my composure…the tightness in my chest…the pins and needles throughout my body…the numbness in my arms. And there the two of us idiots sat, slowly realizing this near-death experience we just went through together may have not been what we, or really I, had thought it was AT ALL.

I just smoked too much weed.

After downloading a heart rate monitor app and testing my own about six or seven times, all showing fairly normal results, I sent Trent to bed, thanking him for being instrumental in saving my life (and NOT calling 9-1-1), and fell asleep not too shortly after. When I woke up today, I laughed out loud immediately, and am still having a hard time looking at Trent in the face without laughing out loud, just because of the ridiculousness of what last night brought us. Hand up, that was on me.

I don’t know if there’s a moral to this story – maybe don’t smoke too much weed before bed if you’ve had a horrible panic disorder for the past few months that you’re trying to recover from – but I got many a laughs out of the tale already, and hope you will too. I mean, in less than 24 hours it’s already gone from being the scariest moment of my life to what may actually be the funniest, and I’m sure it’ll serve as a pretty decent reminder of how quickly and drastically things can change for years to come.

Have a good weekend, everybody. Go easy on the marijuana.