I was eating a Cuban sandwich and watching TV one night in June. I wasn't feeling well.
I hopped into bed. About 20 minutes later, I felt it. A panic attack starts in the legs. It's your body telling you the next four hours are going to last 50,000 years. If there is a hell, it will be a panic attack coupled with a Kardashian reading "50 Shades of Grey" for eternity.
My long-suffering mother was visiting, so I ran to the living room and said, "This is happening."
I've suffered panic attacks for years but none in a decade. Two in two weeks. The first one I rode out for two hours. I called 911 after "Jump off the roof. I can't take this anymore," flashed in my mind.
The Boulder police officer I spent an hour crying to was very friendly. I discussed Hemingway with the paramedic. That was nice. I might have them drive me around for a few hours next time and roll me out the back once I fall asleep.
The ambulance, 30 seconds with an ER doctor and a sandwich cost me $1,600. I hope they don't mind $5 a month forever. So much for affordable health care.
As interesting as that experience was, I wasn't up for a repeat. For the second attack, I decided to walk it off.
I started on a bike path behind my house. No people. Just walk. Stay in the big long now. Ignore the muscles snapping off the bone. Forget the 1,000 mph breaths.
"Excuse me, sir," a woman inquired. "Have you seen my dog?"
"No," I replied, haltingly. "I. Haven't. Seen your dog. I'm. Sorry."
Keep walking. Cross the street if you see someone. The passing car seems like a speeding freight train. Wait for it. OK, it passed.
I spent the next two hours spiraling through North Boulder streets. Hoping the cops don't stop me. I'm getting tasered if they do, because I can't stop walking. A good tasering might be what I need.
I had been sweating profusely and was close to fainting. Dehydrated. 3 a.m. Keep walking. I was lost, and the thought of keeling over in the street did nothing to calm me.
Solution: yard sprinklers.
I found one, laid down on the sidewalk and sucked up as much water as I could. I moved from house to house and drank and drank and drank. I found my way home. The attack never stopped. I fell asleep at dawn. Finally.
Panic attacks are particularly vexing when you are otherwise happy. No traumatic experiences. Life is good. The doctor at the anxiety clinic told me that, yes, this happens. They have a six-week waiting period. Oh well.
I wrote this with a fair amount of trepidation. I don't want people to know how crazy I get sometimes. But I'm tired of feeling embarrassed. Hi, I'm John Bear, and sometimes I drink out of yard sprinklers.
By the way, the water in Boulder is delicious. Even out of yard sprinklers.
Read more Bear: twitter.com/johnbearwithme