Getting Older Just Before Getting Older

BabyBlocksAs we wind down the final month of this pregnancy I find myself coming to terms with how much older I am now…not necessarily “old,” but “older.”  Since turning 30, moving to Wichita, taking a desk job, and having a kid I have combated feeling old by hiring a personal trainer, going on the Dukan Diet, and occasionally doing shots with my high school friends till the wee hours of the morning till my liver reminds me of my age.  Nothing worse than a hangover with a baby at 5am.  Then this summer I had an anxiety attack that was either a random act of building anxiety boiling overt the top…or some sort of early life crisis.  I don’t know.  All I know is it was scary as hell and took me months to start feeling remotely normal again.

Ryan_SLC_Basketball
Back In 2001

The first time I can remember feeling intense anxiety in my life was my senior year of college when I had my first visual aura with a migraine at basketball practice and passed out in the sports complex.  I left practice early because I was having issues with my vision and hearing…I just didn’t feel right.  I figured I was getting sick and my blood sugar was low so I high-tailed it to the parking lot to jump in my truck and drive back to my dorm.  I made it to the car when I got the overwhelming feeling I was going to die and my vision fragmented suddenly into hundreds of flashing lights.  I darted back inside the sports complex and as I called for help I collapsed…right there in the middle of the floor.  When I came to I was getting oxygen from a firefighter and being loaded into an ambulance.  The flashing lights were still there as was the overwhelming feeling that I was going to die.  The lights whirred, the wheels squealed, and off to the Bronxville Emergency Room we went.  Then… suddenly…the flashing lights stopped, the feeling of death ebbed, a throbbing headache moved in, and I got the sneaking suspicion I was about to take the most expensive Aspirin of my life.  I was correct.

Hubert Airys Illustration
Hubert Airys Illustration

The emergency room let me go that night with discharge papers that read, “ANXIETY AND HEADACHE.”  The prescription?  “ASPIRIN AND REST.”  Well that wasn’t very helpful.  This was pre-Google when the internet was still a child with little rules and regulations (and no porn) so there was no place to go and research what had happened to me.  Anxiety?  Okay…but what were those flashing lights?  After a few more occurrences I went to see a doctor in NYC where I got a CAT scan which showed my brain was a healthy glob of happiness.  After that I got poked with needles, went through tests, and still everything came back negative.  Till finally one day I went to an eye doctor which I found hilarious because I can see just fine.  While sitting in the chair with my pupils dilated I told him about my “flashing lights.”  He nonchalantly said, “Oh yeah…visual auras.”  As if  describing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to me.  He went on to tell me that they are part of migraines, they were extremely common, and no one really knows what causes them – but stress is a factor.  Oh…and my eyes were fine.

Vitreous Floaters
Vitreous Floaters

I’ve written plenty on this site about migraines, visual auras, and their relationship to stress and eating habits.  What I think now is that I was getting them because I was stressed out about graduation, the implosion of my relationship with my college girlfriend, and the need to go out in the world and get a job.  When I did snag a job fresh out of school it was only a few months before I was directing a major international TV show thus launching my career in a very stressful industry.  The harder I worked the more the auras came around.  Okay, okay, okay…this is a lot of back story for a simple thing…”Getting Older Just Before Getting Older.”  This summer’s anxiety attack did not come with any visual auras but it did come with a piercing migraine (maybe the auras were in my sleep).  While speaking with my shrink, we have numerous times discussed the year I graduated from college as this is the only other time in my life were I was having the same physical symptoms and similar emotional triggers.  Then my shrink asked me, “Have you had you eyes checked since New York?”  I almost laughed!  I was 20/20 – 20/15 at my checkup in NYC and the only thing funky was the large amount of vitreous floaters I had and some scar tissue from a baseball accident.  I told the head-doc, “No…I can see just fine.”  He shot me a look, “That was 12 years ago.,” he replied.  So, Kate and I set an appointment to see the eye doctor and…

Ryan Glasses

Turns out my right eye isn’t so good anymore and my left is straining to compensate.  Ah.  So here I am, about to have my second child, and less than a month from his birth I get glasses.  That’s like someone telling you they are going to kick you in the balls right before they kick you in the balls.  Either way…its a kick in the balls.  They feel weird.  I feel old…er.  Luckily most of the issue is that the muscles in my eye that help me focus are tired from staring at a computer screen my entire life between editing, graphic design, and now desk-jockeying.  So I’m just wearing them when I’m at the computer or reading.  Time to get out from behind this computer!  I think the solution is that I need to get back to where it all began…the basketball court.  My senior year was the last time I played basketball competitively aside from a few pickup games here and there.  I stuck with tennis and am gearing up to play much more in 2013.  I just need to be more active.  Working out sucks but look at that double chin action I’ve got going on in the glasses picture!  I mean come on!!!  2013 I’m going to be more active…and I’ll start right after I finish this box of Oreos.

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