Less Than a Week

Chest tight, heart pounding...I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest and it's hard to breathe.  Tears are very close to the surface and I struggle to keep it together just as much as I struggle to eat my ahi tuna wontons and goat cheese salad.  Keep breathing.  Keep breathing. 

"Take my pulse."  "What?"  "Take my pulse," I say again to my sister the RN.  "I don't have a watch."  "Use your phone," I tell her, "Please, my chest is so tight."  She pulls out her phone and puts her fingers on my wrist (how do nurses always know the right spot to touch, when it'd take me 10 minutes to find my pulse on my wrist?).  I watch the seconds on the stopwatch on her Iphone tick by.  She takes her fingers off my wrist and says, "72."  "That's normal, right?"  "Yes."  Oh. 

But I am not relieved.  I notice my breathing is shallow so I force myself to take slow, even breaths.  I choke down my food and try not to throw up.  My stomach hurts and I just want to curl up in the fetal position and cry.  I know what it is.  I've been here before.

We finish our meals and the waitress brings our bill.  Stinky is asleep in her car seat.  "Let's walk," I say.  I need the physical activity, something to do to occupy my body and my mind.  There's too much energy inside me.  None of it good. 

We walk down the row of shops in the strip mall, head into an Old Navy, and don't see what we are looking for.  We walk back the other way and cross the street to the next row of buildings.  Breathing and walking, breathing and walking. 

It's hard to force my mind away from the fact that in less than a week, at the end of the week, my husband will be leaving for Afghanistan.  It's all I can think about. It consumes my every thought.  And I want to cry, to just have a good bawl, and feel better. 

We go into Famous Footwear.  I joke about needing new shoes as I can't continue to wear my Mary Jane style Crocs as dress shoes as Paul looks for Crocs to wear to and from the showers.  The sand and rocks tear up flip flops and Crocs hold up better he's been told.  I try on a cute pair of pink wedges and another pair of black wedges.  Both on sale and Paul tells me to get them.  I haven't bought new shoes in a very long time and I'm delighted with my purchase.  They'll go well with my nursing tops I joke. 

As we leave the store I realize the crushing pain in my chest is getting lighter.  I can breathe easier.  I have survived another anxiety attack.  And I finally feel relieved.  It's over for now.  We head back to the swagger wagon to continue our day.


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