I was looking through my pictures on this computer, trying to find one that came even close to how I felt today.
This was a Paint program rendition of a dream image I had some years ago. The oil painting of it is still hanging unfinished on the studio wall. Well, was, I remember now that in my absence from home, Alex has taken over my old studio -- the painting must be stacked against a wall in the new venue.
In the image, a distant someone stands alone in a shadowy field, and though the sky is blue and has clouds, the dark background is not illuminated. The field in which the figure stands is a-jitter with color.
I've done this image first in dreams, then in Paint (a couple times, trying to nail down the shapes) and then in pastels as a preliminary to the oil painting. I no longer recall the flavor of the dream that generated it, but it will do as a symbol of today's trial.
I woke at a good time, about six. And then I didn't want to get out of bed. I huddled with the pillows and tried to sleep, but any time I saw a shadow pass by the window of my hotel room, I jerked with a sensation of an electric shock, wincing. I told myself I had nowhere I had to be until visiting hours at the hospital, but I couldn't fall asleep again. I got up and turned on my computer, looked at my usual lineup of sites, and then fell into a full-blown panic attack.
Heart hammering, stomach roiling, hands shaking -- hell, not just the hands, trembling all over -- and a terror at having to walk out the door. Every time I stood up I felt dizzy; every time I thought about having to talk to someone my vision blurred with tears. I bargained: after Bernie calls at his break time, I'll get moving. But he didn't call (problems at work) and when I knew I couldn't talk to him, I wept.
By 1 pm, I got myself timidly out the door, and went to see Jan. And though she was interacting with the nurses to a greater degree (some progress, anyway) my voice was shaking as I read to her, and the dizziness was increasing. The nurse who came in to check Jan's medications looked at me and said, "Are you all right? You don't look too good."
She took my blood pressure, which, for a wonder, was fine. And recommended I go back to my hotel and rest. Jan had fallen asleep, so I agreed.
The rest of the afternoon I spent in my darkened hotel room, twitching and trying not to think. I looked up "dizziness" on the web, and the Mayo Clinic site listed panic attacks as a possible cause. Duh.
Bernie called on his lunch break, and sympathetically reminded me that I haven't taken a day off since I got here. Well, then, I guess today was the day.
Shall we call it an "accumulation of stress?" Then, shall we add in that I know I will be going home in just a couple days, and want that travel so desperately that I cry when I think of it?
In the evening, my good friend Barb stopped over to the hotel to talk with me, and her eloquent, uproarious way of describing drama took me out of my dumps to laughter; she helped me realize again that I've done all I can do, and that if I have a friend like Barb, by God, that's one hell of a life's work.
The dizziness has subsided with the passing of the panic. Tomorrow I have one more meeting to attend; I'll spend the afternoon with my sister (she's getting the Aser stories, as we've finished "The Crystal Cave") and the evening with my sister-in-law. Friday will be for a last visit with Jan, and packing.
And then home.