Saturday, 24 July 2010

The Lengths We Will Go To

In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them. Maybe you can hire.... The A Team!

The way i finally got to my scan very much reminded me of the A Team!

So I am now 20 weeks pregnant and as you all know I didn't go for my 12 weeks scan. This has been causing me huge problems which include guilt and anxiety. As each day passed it got worse and worse. I just couldn't seem to visualise the drive to the hospital at all. In each scenario in my mind I was screaming and freaking out. I tried practice drives to the hospital but I was under so much pressure and so nervous that I only ever made it half way.

I tried talking about it, relaxation methods, deep breathing, positive thinking etc but nothing as working this time. I told myself to just go for it because the past had proved that DOING the thing was much less stressful than you ever imagined it would be. One of the top midwives at the hospital was in regular contact with me and was very concerned. She even offered to come and pick me up and drive me their herself but I explained that even that was unlikely to work.

Poor Gerry was tearing his hair out with me. He got to the stage he was losing sleep with worry about how the baby would be. I myself couldn't stop thinking about it. What if there was anything wrong with the baby? I would have no idea. What if it needs help and no one knows because I cant get there. On top of that I had people constantly asking after the wee one and asking if I had been for my scan yet. Totally embarrassed I would make up some stupid story as to why it hadn't happened.

The head midwife offered me the solution that instead of having to make an appointment, they could offer me an open door policy that meant I could go anytime at all, if i suddenly felt I could make it. But that didn't work either! Eventually she told me there was no point in going for my 12 week scan. I had totally missed it anyway and there was no point going for a scan at 14 weeks only to return again at 20. And so she told me we would aim for the 20 weeks but it was important that I made it.

In my head I knew this wasn't going to happen. I was starting to dread even seeing the midwives at my local surgery because at my last appointment it was really obvious the midwife did not approve of me at all. In the end the pressure, guilt and anxiety was all so great that it just seemed utterly impossible.

Throughout the whole time I kept moaning saying 'I wish i could just go in an ambulance'. This was because of last year. Remember when I was taken to hospital in the middle of the night via ambulance. It was something that as an agoraphobic, I always worried about happening. But when it DID happen I coped really well. In the back of an ambulance with a fantastic paramedic, I was completely calm. I figured this was down to the fact I couldn't see where I was. Bizarre though because I know the roads so well I KNEW exactly where I was, but not being able to see everything whizzing past made it easier. I find that when I am anxious and hypersensitive, your surroundings can seem to overwhelming. There is too much going on around you and its harder to gather your thoughts and get yourself calm. And so knowing that I couldn't just ring an ambulance since i wasn't in any pain, i worked out another solution.

How about I go in the back of a van!

Gerry who was desperate to get me there, thought this a tad extreme but agreed that if it got me there, he would get us a van. It was planned that he would borrow his dads work van on Thursday and we would attempt the journey. I have to admit but even then I didn't think it would work. But Thursday was a week away so i had bought myself some time.

On Wednesday night Gerry was texting saying he was really excited about the next day and how we would finally see the little one. I told him not to get his hopes up because deep down I didn't believe I would get there, however, i did tell myself I would at least have to TRY it.

Thursday morning came far to quickly and I woke up to find Gerry in my bedroom. He didn't look too pleased at all! Bad News. He explained he had been to collect the van but when he was trying to get in the back to unload some stuff, he had snapped the key in the door! 'Yes'!!! I thought. I don't need to try this now. Gerry on the other hand had had enough. Seriously annoyed about the van car he told me enough was enough. I had to get in the car and just do it. It was far too important to miss. 'Get in the back seat and put a cover over your head', 'If i need to drag you I will'. Well if there is one thing you shouldn't say to an agoraphobic its that! Maybe just maybe, if Gerry had been calm and soothing, he might have talked me round. But standing there shouting and losing his cool he had blown it completely. Absolutely NO WAY was I going near his car. He stormed out of my house screaming all sorts of abuse but I just sat there because at the end of the day, I knew he was right and I was the one in the wrong here. Poor guy just couldn't handle it anymore. I did feel awful, this was all my own doing. My phobia, my issues. But i tried to explain that it was hardly ideal for me too. I never feel sorry for myself and the life agoraphobia has caused me to lead. But for once I did. Do you think i wanted this? Do you think I don't want this scan. Why cant I be normal and enjoy my pregnancy and get excited about these appointments. Its not fair!!

Friday was Gerry's last free day before he started working constant 12 hour shifts. He was gutted that he was going to miss the scan, and although i told him that wouldn't happen, it was looking pretty likely. I woke up on Friday morning with Gerry standing beside my bed again, this time with a big smile on his face 'I got a new Van key, the vans outside'

'Oh s**t' I thought. Ok so he has the van, randomly after weeks of rain the sun was shining and this is his last day off... I need to try this!

He took me out to show me the van and where I would be sitting. Oh my i should have taken a picture. I would be huddled into this van sitting on top of piles of metal pipes. DIRTY metal pipes. Well beggars cant be choosers so I went back indoors and got myself ready. How can you prepare for a journey like this? I decided to take magazines (for distraction), My ipod for music to distract me and also the panic application that helps you control your breathing. Baby wipes for when I get hot and start sweating. A bottle of water for when I need a cool drink. And finally my notebook which has all the helpful phrases I need during panic, for example, 'this will pass', 'breathe', 'Don't let the panic win'. And before leaving the house Gerry was given strict instructions.

  1. Should i want to stop the drive and turn around you MUST do it.
  2. If you continue to drive with me after I have asked you to stop I will freak out and who knows what that will do to me and the baby.
  3. If you ignore me I will call the police and tell them I have been kidnapped and I'm in the back of a transit van (this was all said in jest but i think i would have done it had i felt the need)
  4. Do not shout at me or lose your cool as it WILL NOT HELP
  5. If you don't do what i need you to do you will be blowing it completely and the chances are I will never get in a car with you again.

Got myself seated in the van and immediately phoned a friend as Gerry began to drive. It was another distraction method, which usually works for me, but this time it meant I wasn't able to compose my thoughts and it actually just made me more nervous. Oh no I wasn't enjoying this at all! The panic came which was inevitable really after all my over thinking. Grabbed my ipod, with shaking hands I stuck some music on and turned it up LOUD! I realised pretty quickly this wasn't a great idea. Ok i couldn't see round about me, but i didn't like it either. I felt like mentally I needed to know exactly where I was and to deal with each step of the journey. I cant really explain it to be honest. Thankfully I could see into the front of the van and out of the window a little so I kept having a little check now and then. Much to my disappointment, every time I looked out I wasn't as close to the hospital as I had hoped. In my whole experience with panic attacks I have never felt so exposed, so vulnerable and so unsafe. I was aware that I was out of my safety zone, that the journey BACK to my safety zone was going to take a while and every time i thought of this I felt the panic rise. Looking back on it now I realise that even though I was extremely uncomfortable, turning back never entered my head. I knew i was getting that scan done and it was as simple as that. I will say though that the panic never got to that unbearable stage where you just lose it, so maybe had it got that bad, i would have told him to stop but thankfully that never happened.

We made it, we were at the hospital. And what happened then? Same thing that always happens, I went completely calm!

The scan department was on the 3rd floor of the hospital and since I don't do lifts I headed for the stairs. I introduced myself at the desk to some praise for finally making it. Someone was in being scanned before me so i was going to have to wait. But even then I was calm and we all know how much I hate waiting. I walked around alone looking where everything was, the anti natal classes, the birthing suite etc and finally they were ready for me.

Then the maternal nerves took over. As i lay on the bed I couldn't look at the scan monitor. I guess due to my miscarriage last year I as too frightened in case i seen something was wrong. The doctor told me to look at the screen to see my baby but i couldn't look until I knew there was a heartbeat. Within minutes I was told I could look and there it was. My little baby kicking and wriggling inside of me. The images were so clear I couldn't believe it. The little face looked perfect. I just lay there smiling from ear to ear and enjoying every second. The doctor took measurements and I began to worry thinking that something was wrong. But he explained he was checking the baby and this is what they do with everyone. He was so thorough and the whole thing lasted over half an hour. Being as impatient as I am, I asked the babies sex. I am totally delighted with the outcome but I am keeping that a secret until the wee one arrives. To be told that everything was ok was just the most wonderful news ever. In a way I felt so lucky but also that I didn't deserve it! I had been so useless and yet I was totally blessed. I got the scan pictures printed out and was free to go but i ended up chatting and getting bloods taken and weighed etc as for some reason the midwives had never weighed me. (The bloods are to test for down syndrome)

I left the hospital clinging to the scan pictures and headed for the van. I was fine now. I had done it. And I didn't feel like travelling in the back of the van A Team style. I joined Gerry up the front. I chatted to him and wasn't even bothered about where we were and how far from home I was. I realised it was lunchtime and suggested we go have something to eat together, which we did. It was so normal and so good! While at lunch I suggested we go have a look in some shops but Gerry had to be somewhere.

I got home and my mother was white as a sheet, she had obviously been worried sick as we were gone much longer than she thought we would be. I handed her the pictures and her eyes filled with tears. Weeks of worrying about getting me to that scan were gone. The relief on her face was completely obvious and I let her enjoy her moment.

It is horrible to be the cause of so much worry in other people. My agoraphobia had pretty much disappeared for so long, but my constant over thinking and stressing caused it to return when it was most important. I have over come a lot of the problems that agoraphobia caused in my lofe, but this is by far the proudest I have ever been of myself. I am gutted I took so long, and disappointed for allowing myself to believe the bad things my head tells me when I know better. But in one day I killed some demons for sure. I got my buzz back and I want to get out there and do so much more. And now I can enjoy the rest of my pregnancy with no pressure, and when people ask if i have been for my scan I can stop lying and say Yes!!!

9 comments:

Em said...

well done lyn. im so pleased you got to the hospital. dont feel guilty you done it. xxx

diver said...

Hi Lynn, another classic braveheart post from you :) You're a legend!

Well done with the scan. I've gotta suggest though ... don't beat yourself up about how long it took to get there. I mean, the miscarriage experience last year on top of the agoraphobia on top of another pregnancy so soon ... wow ... you've gotta be well out of your comfort zone this year I suppose, and understandably inclined to err on the side of caution with things?

Hope you don't mind me saying this ... but I think you're a bit over generous with Gerry sometimes. You and the bub just don't need those tantrums and abuse of his. Surely his role now is just to provide you with 100% support and quiet, calm, understanding?

Jason said...

I'm definitely with diver and em. Great job! Imo, you shouldn't feel any guilt over taking a long time. Next time people start getting pushy with you, just know that they probably aren't understanding what you're feeling. It's like trying to make a color blind person understand colors.

If gerry or anyone else felt what you feel, they would be nothing but thrilled that you got it done when you did.

Be proud and use this trip as a confidence booster. It's a reminder that even if you completely dread doing something, it can still work out alright.

kat said...

Hello Lynn,
I love reading your posts. I wish there were more of us out there sharing this information. I really feel like people just do not understand me or what I go through at all. I totally LOL when I saw the pic of the van. I currently drive a 1989 Ford Camper Van as my daily vehicle. My agoraphonbia is linked to my IBS and being away from a bathroom is not something I can do, so I drive my mobile bathroom around with me. However I thought once I got this that it would solve all my problems, but unfortunatley it did not. I still stress about any drives more than like 10 minutes from home unless I am with my husband. But it sure does seem that every step forward suddenly is followed by another step back. Just to let you know. I have a 9 month old baby girl. I made it through the pregnancy and labor, despite my fears and anxieties about dealing with all of that with no problems. And the last year I have been so proud of myself for being able to make it to a beach camping trip about an hour and a half away with my husband and then again for a week long beach trip at a beach house about an hour away. Both of which I wasn't sure I could do, but accomplished and was so proud, but then was reminded how little I have come when my boss just told me about a meeting I have to attend next week about 30 minutes away and I immediatley started to panic. I got knots in my stomach and had to go use the restroom and can think of nothing else. I am actually thinking of trying to convince my husband to come with me and just hang out somewhere near there while I am in my meeting so that I dont have to do the drive alone. It makes me feel so pathetic, but I know that doing it on my own is going to be near impossible and sends me into utter panic. My mom is trying to convince me to go to a river trip with them next summer which is like a 4 hour drive into the middle of nowhere. I just dont see this ever happening and I know my husband is extremly frustrated by that. He really wants to go and I feel a lot of guilt about it, but I just can't see that happening. It is a very difficult emotion to deal with feeling the guilt of letting your friends and family down, but also dealing with your own very real very terrifying fears and feelings. I wish we could just find some magically cure. It is crazy to think about all the things I used to be able to do before this all started and how it would never have occured to me to be nervous at all. It is very surreal.

kat said...

Hello Lynn,
I love reading your posts. I wish there were more of us out there sharing this information. I really feel like people just do not understand me or what I go through at all. I totally LOL when I saw the pic of the van. I currently drive a 1989 Ford Camper Van as my daily vehicle. My agoraphonbia is linked to my IBS and being away from a bathroom is not something I can do, so I drive my mobile bathroom around with me. However I thought once I got this that it would solve all my problems, but unfortunatley it did not. I still stress about any drives more than like 10 minutes from home unless I am with my husband. But it sure does seem that every step forward suddenly is followed by another step back. Just to let you know. I have a 9 month old baby girl. I made it through the pregnancy and labor, despite my fears and anxieties about dealing with all of that with no problems. And the last year I have been so proud of myself for being able to make it to a beach camping trip about an hour and a half away with my husband and then again for a week long beach trip at a beach house about an hour away. Both of which I wasn't sure I could do, but accomplished and was so proud, but then was reminded how little I have come when my boss just told me about a meeting I have to attend next week about 30 minutes away and I immediatley started to panic. I got knots in my stomach and had to go use the restroom and can think of nothing else. I am actually thinking of trying to convince my husband to come with me and just hang out somewhere near there while I am in my meeting so that I dont have to do the drive alone. It makes me feel so pathetic, but I know that doing it on my own is going to be near impossible and sends me into utter panic. My mom is trying to convince me to go to a river trip with them next summer which is like a 4 hour drive into the middle of nowhere. I just dont see this ever happening and I know my husband is extremly frustrated by that. He really wants to go and I feel a lot of guilt about it, but I just can't see that happening. It is a very difficult emotion to deal with feeling the guilt of letting your friends and family down, but also dealing with your own very real very terrifying fears and feelings. I wish we could just find some magically cure. It is crazy to think about all the things I used to be able to do before this all started and how it would never have occured to me to be nervous at all. It is very surreal.

kat said...

Hello Lynn,
I love reading your posts. I wish there were more of us out there sharing this information. I really feel like people just do not understand me or what I go through at all. I totally LOL when I saw the pic of the van. I currently drive a 1989 Ford Camper Van as my daily vehicle. My agoraphonbia is linked to my IBS and being away from a bathroom is not something I can do, so I drive my mobile bathroom around with me. However I thought once I got this that it would solve all my problems, but unfortunatley it did not. I still stress about any drives more than like 10 minutes from home unless I am with my husband. But it sure does seem that every step forward suddenly is followed by another step back. Just to let you know. I have a 9 month old baby girl. I made it through the pregnancy and labor, despite my fears and anxieties about dealing with all of that with no problems. And the last year I have been so proud of myself for being able to make it to a beach camping trip about an hour and a half away with my husband and then again for a week long beach trip at a beach house about an hour away. Both of which I wasn't sure I could do, but accomplished and was so proud, but then was reminded how little I have come when my boss just told me about a meeting I have to attend next week about 30 minutes away and I immediatley started to panic. I got knots in my stomach and had to go use the restroom and can think of nothing else. I am actually thinking of trying to convince my husband to come with me and just hang out somewhere near there while I am in my meeting so that I dont have to do the drive alone. It makes me feel so pathetic, but I know that doing it on my own is going to be near impossible and sends me into utter panic. My mom is trying to convince me to go to a river trip with them next summer which is like a 4 hour drive into the middle of nowhere. I just dont see this ever happening and I know my husband is extremly frustrated by that. He really wants to go and I feel a lot of guilt about it, but I just can't see that happening. It is a very difficult emotion to deal with feeling the guilt of letting your friends and family down, but also dealing with your own very real very terrifying fears and feelings. I wish we could just find some magically cure. It is crazy to think about all the things I used to be able to do before this all started and how it would never have occured to me to be nervous at all. It is very surreal.

esme said...

I'm very, very proud of you! I know first hand what it is to deal with agoraphobia and when I was reading the details of how you felt leading up to it and on the way there, I knew EXACTLY where you were coming from. I also appreciate that you are writing this because it takes a lot of bravery which I am still mustering up, it's been difficult for me to tell even those closest to me. I want you to know that my prayers are with you and keep writing, you inspire me!

Aimee said...

Awww! That is absolutely fantastic that you not only went, but you were calm at the hospital! I am so happy to hear this. Sometimes we have to force ourselves into things, and the fear is always far worse beforehand. After all is said and done, we (or at least I) always say.."That was it? What was I so scared of?" I'm so happy to hear that all is well with your baby and I look forward to finding out what you are going to have :)

jenlovestim8 said...

Hi Lynn ~

I just found your blog and let me start by saying - Congratulations on your pregnancy!!!! I'm so excited for you and Gerry. I've read a few of your blogs and wow - you are AWESOME! I'm 31 (almost 32) and have been suffering from panic disorder and agoraphobia for a few years on / off. Following our wedding in September 2008, I have been housebound and did not leave the house at all until May 2010 when I started taking nightly drives with my hubby or sometimes alone. So I know the pain you are experiencing and also the frustration....and you conquered so many fears to get into that van and get to the hospital for your scan. Like you, I have always been surrounded by kids and love them....but I am so scared that I won't be a good mother due to my anxiety issues and have; therefore, delayed any decisions on parenthood. To make matters worse, my beloved mom just passed away in July from Multiple Sclerosis complications and I have been devastated. I just wanted to thank you for making your feelings public because this is such a tough disease and not many people understand it, but I'm so proud of your accomplishments and look forward to reading upcoming blogs from you! Good luck in all you do! :)

Hugs,
Jen