Thursday, November 30, 2006

Who's Claustrophobic?

I'm really not certain if it is Mrs. Hyde or myself. I don't really recall ever having that phobia when I was younger and it seems the first time I experienced it was in the last 10 years between the ages of 44 and 54 with the onset of peri-menopause. Might just be coincidence but it's happened and still happening.
When I use a public restroom, I head for the handicapped stall because it is larger and I don't feel so confined. The regular stalls, I keep bumping my elbows on the sides and the door is practically in your face, I feel like I can't breathe.

When we've stayed at motels we've been in rooms that had little corner showerstalls and again there's that closed in feeling and I gasp for breath. I do not, nor ever had asthma. My lungs are 100% healthy. I don't smoke. In a regular sized bathtub shower I am much better but I still have to pull the shower curtain aside so I can 'get air'. There are no windows in the motel's bathrooms, which could account for that feeling of needing fresh air. Thank God for air conditioners, because even though they are meant to cool off a room, they also make it easier for breathing. To me, it's the next best thing to fresh air.

When we are traveling by car... for a little while I do okay with the windows closed when it's cold out and Tom has the heat on...but that doesn't last very long and I have to crank a window open even if it's only an inch or two. I need that cool air.
In the summer months, just having a window open isn't enough, because the air is hot and sticky. On goes the AC.

For years I just thought it was a 'quirk' and that I'd 'outgrow' it.
My first real experience with claustrophobia was about 3 years ago when I had to have a CAT Scan on my heart. I had a vague idea what it involved and I had no problem with it. That's because I wasn't inside it yet. I get the IV, oxygen, get hooked up to a heart monitor ( EKG I assume). The slab I'm lying on, barely contained my girth and I felt like I was going to fall off any second. Then they strapped me on, making me feel a little more secure. They explain that they will be giving me instructions through a headphone when to take a deep breath, hold it, let it out. Piece of cake. Right? Wrong.

I was rolled into the tunnel of the CAT Scan and the walls enclosed me, scrunching my arms to my sides, and the top of the 'tunnel' was at the most 2 inches from my face. I began to panic. To try to calm myself down, I closed my eyes. But it was too late, because I already KNEW the ceiling was in my face. I really tried to hang it out. I breathed in deep when told, held until I thought my lungs would burst from the pressure. After repeating this a dozen times, I just couldn't do it anymore and pressed the button for help. I was having an anxiety attack, I just knew it. I began to cry uncontrollably and I moved. I was supposed to stay perfectly still and with a huff the tech rolled me back out and informed me we'd have to do it all over again.


I managed to go through it again, and kept still this time, there was no way in He!! I was going to repeat it a third time. I hated every second of it and Mrs. H. was cussing like a sailer in my head. I didn't even know she knew some of those words!!!

So, for the next several years, I still experience the trivial no air phobia of the public restrooms and motel shower stalls, with no major phobias........until Tuesday of this week when I had to have a cardiac MRI.

Never having forgotten the CAT Scan experience, I made sure to let the techs know what happened, and they were very kind and called my doc to see if I could take a relaxant. Yipee!! I could and did. I can't say I felt any different but I must have been more relaxed because I did make it through the ordeal. I was in that MRI for well over an hour. My hubby says it was longer. It felt like 24 hours.
This time I knew to close my eyes before I went in. I had a good look at the opening of the MRI and laughing to myself, thought, no way I'm gonna fit inside that thing. Darned if I didn't get squeezed in again. Now I know how a pack of sardines feel.
After the first 45 minutes my back was really aching ( I had a ruptured disk 20 years ago and can't sleep on my back or my stomach, have to lie on my side) and my left arm and shoulder was killing me. I figured being scrunched up, something was pressing on a nerve. I had to push the call button and ask if I could rearrange myself - and when was given the OK, could barely move but managed to relieve the stress on my arm/shoulder a bit. My back ached for two days afterwards, today being the third day, I can move around a bit better without grimacing.

I made it through without Mrs. H. or myself causing any trouble or embarrassing either of us. Mrs. H. insists 'she's not the phobic one' but like I said earlier, I was fine until she hitched a ride on my psyche.

technaroti tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I'm a little bit claustrophobic, but I can crawl underneath houses w/out much problem.

    My toes do curl up some thinking about a class trip I took back in school where we went "spelunking" through some caves. Me 'n another guy crawled our way back through some narrow tunnels; I quit when I couldn't crawl on hands and knees, and had to back out just to turn around, it was so tight. He went on for another few hundred feet, crawling like a worm on his belly.

    What really makes me anxious is to be "bound"; even having the sheets wrap around me freaks me out. I've never been handcuffed, but I'm sure I wouldn't like it (other than the fact of being arrested! lol )

    If I were ever put into a straitjacket...well, if I wasn't crazy before they put it on me, I would be within a few minutes!

  2. Hiya Mike!
    Crawling under porches and toes curling up - makes me think of the wicked witch of the West from OZ, lol

    I think the worst claustrophobia I've experienced is having a CAT & MRI scans. I hated them. Too confining of a space and you mustn't move. Hard to do when all you want to do is RUN.


I welcome comments but PLEASE - NO SPAMMING