So, last Tuesday I was in the grocery store shopping for basics after standing in a line out front for over thirty minutes, being let in ten at a time, and sweating in the hot morning sunshine. I had on some denim sandals that matched my navy sundress. Little did I know that these sandals would end up being quite a problem for me in the long-term.
They sort of spread my feet out in between my big toes and first toes. This led to blisters forming while I put toilet paper and other essentials in the cart, while I raced around the store.
The blisters formed fast on both feet. By the time I got home, I was afraid they would pop. Over the next few days, the one on my left foot resolved and went away. But the one on my right foot got worse, never popping but getting red and irritated, I wasn’t able to walk on the pads of my right foot and had to gimp along on the side of my right foot as the blister grew red with blood and developed a thick pad on the outside of it.
Needless to say, yesterday I did a video visit with my doctor, one of the best things to come out of being stuck at home sheltering in place. He said it was a second degree burn and put in an order of some ointment for me at the pharmacy, told me to wash, dress and wrap it twice a day and that it might take up to three weeks to heal completely.
By the time the medicine was ready, it was dinner time. I had to stay off my foot and my husband went to the store to get it, but this also meant that I couldn’t make my daughter dinner. We waited as Chris got stuck in some kind of weird, post-apocalyptic traffic jam when everyone was supposed to be at home, adding to my growing sense of alarm. I would have to take care that this burn didn’t get infected, the ointment was for staph infections. I’ve had a staph infection before, and I almost died.
I started to feel the panic rise. What if he wasn’t able to find any gauze at the pharmacy? How was I going to keep this clean, I would have to call the doctor back if it burst and started to pus or got more painful, what if I got a staph infection, I couldn’t feed my daughter dinner because I couldn’t stay on my foot, time was passing, needs weren’t being met, panic rising greater still—I wondered how all of this was going to work.
I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, in addition to Bipolar I. I was having a panic attack. All seemed lost, but then Chris came back with the gauze wraps and the ointment, some groceries and made dinner. We cleaned, dressed and wrapped my foot. I settled into bed—but the panic was still there. I knew if I didn’t get it under control soon, I would blaze off into the stratosphere of endless worry and an official panic attack!
So, I took my medication. I practiced deep breathing. I listened to the news on the tv as if it were a fictional story not connected with me at all, I closed my eyes and did a body scan, I felt the medication begin to work, and pretty soon the episode passed without disaster and without tears. I had practiced my coping skills and come out the other side. And you can, too. I even got up and got a snack, fears subsided.
So, whatever might be activating your worry or anxiety today in our new lives during this pandemic, please know that practicing your coping skills will help you make a big difference in your state of mind!