March 4th, 2008

"I like the cover," he said. "'Don't Panic.'"

"Look," said Arthur, "I'm a bit upset about that."
Ford frowned to himself and seemed to roll the thought around his mind.
"Yes, I can understand that," he said at last.
"Understand that!" shouted Arthur. "Understand that!"
Ford sprang up.
"Keep looking at the book!" he hissed urgently.
"Don't Panic."
"I'm not panicking!"
"Yes, you are."
"All right, so I'm panicking, what else is there to do?"
"You just come along with me and have a good time. The Galaxy's a fun place. You'll need to have this fish in your ear."
-- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

My dad, whose health problems I've written about before, hasn't been doing so well lately. It seems the years of taking anti-rejection drugs have taken their toll, and he now has a hard time dealing with wounds and infections. For months now he's been dealing with a problem with swelling in his legs that the doctors still haven't managed to clear up. Several times in the past few months he's had to stay in the hospital for 3-4 days to deal with infections or other problems, most recently just this past weekend. Overall he hasn't been feeling any worse, except for some bouts of pain when the leg swelling's gotten bad, but he's definitely sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I've been experiencing some mysterious problems of my own over this weekend: occasional mild headaches, tension at the back of my head or slight pressure all around, flushed and tingly feeling in my head, just hints of tingling on the frontside of my ankles and a bit at the knees, and occasional cramps/pains in my abdomen. I've written about having these sorts of problems before; the most recent bout was the end of last April and the beginning of May. As I mention in those entries, the problem seems to be sublimated stress; in fact, I believe that I'm subject to panic attacks, although I've never been formally diagnosed with a panic disorder. Certainly my symptoms match well to panic attacks, and they do seem to occur in connection with stressful times. The problems of course are that I don't necessarily realize that I'm stressed about something, like my dad being very ill, and that the onset of symptoms feel like some more serious problem, so I get more panicky.

Sunday afternoon I realized duh, I'm just anxious!, and that helped some, but then this evening the problems continued, so again I started feeling freaked out. Panic attacks aren't purely psychological, there are physiological reactions, so even when I realized again tonight that no, really, it's most likely just a panic attack, and laughed at myself, that didn't make all the symptoms go away. I feel extra-stupid about the whole thing since of course it's my dad who has the serious problems, but I can't forget the small worry that maybe I really do have some serious problem and oh no what if I don't see the doctor about it?!?

One thing I really should do is get a general physical check-up, because regardless of panic attacks it's been a couple years at least since my last physical. Maybe that'll help me deal with the stress. Also I'm hoping to return to tai chi in a couple weeks when the next session starts, and I think I really need to start taking regular walks up the Queen Anne stair climb. For now, I have to get to bed and hope I can fall asleep.