“That’s caveman stuff, and there’s no way you can stop it,” my friend Kris told Ken and me over carrot-orange-ginger juice and corn meal pancakes at the Roost today. I was just past (but not past) a CT scan, a routine check because of all the pancreatic cancer in my family. To my surprise, once lying down, happily chatting up the technician, I went from A-Ok to No-Way-In-Hell in a flash. All it took was the machine moving me toward the scanner, and panic took over the wheel.
This is not to say I didn’t try to then smooth down the ragged edges of the shaky terror that started first in my bowels, then shook up my torso at high speed, even constricting my throat a little. Ken came to my rescue, and we practiced breathing, I plugged myself in to soothing yoga music on an Ipod mini, and we talked up one side and down the other about how this was nothing to fear, it would be over in 10 minutes, and all I had to do was breathe and stay. The staying part wasn’t happening. Panic attacks are a whole lot like a a train revving up to 120 mph while the conductor quickly discovers the brakes are out, and has she ever really been in charge to begin with?
For any of us who have experienced such things, we know — in the most visceral way possible — that the body is a somatic animal, and there’s no herding that animal into logic at certain moments. While it would have been good to have gotten through today’s dealie deal in a hot minute, my future holds a return engagement, this time with greater preparation, mainly in the form of happy-place drugs.
Although this is crazily unpleasantness in the moment, it’s a good reminder of how, at heart and in body, we are wild beings, sometimes unable to behave according to what makes sense and what is expected. Sometimes that takes the form of howling at the moon, and other times, it means listening to a runaway train body. Yup, caveman stuff indeed.