First of all, I’d like to express my appreciation for all of those (EMS, Fire, Police) that work the streets. You all have the hardest job, and my job would be so much harder if it weren’t for people like you.
I work in the ER as an RN. ER has always been my dream job. I love the variety, the excitement, and knowing that every day I have to be at my best because I never know what will walk, roll, crawl, wheel, or get carried through that door. However, in my final year of nursing school, I experienced an episode of SVT and had some subsequent runs of PSVT. All completely benign and self limited. I only had to be converted the first time. The dysrhythmia didn’t last, but the anxiety and fear that I felt became a huge factor in my life. I’ll never forget the way I felt when I first converted. I had no idea what was going on. I felt this huge adrenaline rush, my heart starting racing. I felt dizzy, short of breath, disoriented. I knew that was it. I thought I was going to die. Being converted back into NSR at the hospital was even worse.
After my diagnosis and learning about SVT, I felt better knowing that it wasn’t a death sentence, but I also received a diagnosis of anxiety. I was left worrying constantly about my health. With the SVT coming on suddenly, I felt like I was always on the edge. What was going to happen to me next? This is the problem that still plagues me today. I am a young, relatively healthy woman. There is no reason I should think that every twinge of chest pain is an Acute MI, every headache is a brain bleed, every episode of abdominal pain or daily ache is some type of cancer or other strange, rare, deadly disease. But I do. And whats worse is my dream job in the ER is not only the best exposure therapy, it is also where I pick up many of my fears. I have these issues with transference. Whatever emergent diagnosis, acute disease, or trauma we see, it becomes the new fuel for my fear. Its usually limited to people who are young or even middle aged and otherwise healthy. I also worry about my family because of some of the things I see or know. For the most part at work, it doesn’t affect me. I feel like I am more in control of the environment, and I know I have to take care of my patients, regardless of how I am feeling at the moment. Where I really suffer is at home. For the most part, I suffer in silence. My husband knows just how bad it can be, but other than him and a few other members of our family, I have kept it a secret. My worst fear is my co-workers finding out. I don’t want people to think I am crazy or incapable of doing my job, because that is not the case. I just have issues with death and dying. I am working on that.
I have sought treatment. I have been through counseling, though I’m not sure how effective it was. I have thought about finding another program. My doctor knows, though I think he even stereotypes me. I have a prescription for a very mild dose of a benzodiazepine that I take as needed, but I am not on any daily medications. Truth is, I don’t want to be. I am tired of obsessing about my health, every ache and pain, every twinge or gurgle. I just want to be normal again. The old me. I feel so fragile now because I don’t know what is going to set off my anxiety. I used to be strong, care free. Now I worry constantly, about me and my family. Everything makes me anxious. I am tired of it. I couldn’t imagine if someone from work found out. What would they think of me? Would they try to tell me I need to find another job? It would completely crush me. I have decided recently that I am going to look into a new counseling program, and I’d like to get back into church. Though my official diagnosis is anxiety, I wonder if its not a form of PTSD, considering I didn’t have any symptoms until after my experience with SVT. I just want to get a handle on this, so I can go back to living my life. It has helped me to strive to be healthier, eat better, exercise, and encourage my family to do the same. It has also made me a better nurse. I try to take care of the patient’s who I know are experiencing some sort of anxiety. I don’t want them to get stuck with someone who is judgmental and negative. I want them to know that I understand and it is ok, because when it was me in the ER, afraid of something I didn’t understand, I wanted the same compassion.
I am so glad to see this campaign! I wanted to share my story because reading the stories of others has made me feel like I am not in this alone.
– ED RN, Oklahoma, 2 years experience