Back in the Spring, I began having horrible panic attacks while I was driving. It began one day at the traffic light near my daughter's high school.
I was stopped at a red light, and grabbed my phone to check my text messages. When I looked back up, my world was spinning. I mean everything was dizzy. I began to totally freak out. I wanted to scream and run. I wanted out -- and quickly. I began sweating, getting numb from head to toe, and nauseated.
Things seemed okay...until I hit another red light. Same thing happened. I began to freak out as everything got dizzy. This time, I switched lanes and got out quickly without having to stop at the traffic light.
Now I had one other incident like this last summer (roughly seven months before). I was driving at 75mph on the Turnpike and felt "freaked out". No other word to describe. Back at that time, my doctor suggested anxiety medication. I saw her again after the school pick-up incident and was again told "anxiety".
Now I am one of those people who likes to google anything and everything. I have had panic attacks in the past -- years ago -- by why were these only happening while I was driving (or at stop lights!)?? One night I happened to search "panic attacks while driving" and came across a web site that totally changed my life!!
I learned about something called Vertical Heterophoria, a binocular vision dysfunction. . Some people are born with it, but most get it after a stroke or brain trauma. DING DING. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, a rare form of shingles. And today, I am still suffering with facial paralysis. Could this be it!?!
I called my primary care the next morning and we both agreed this was a huge possibility. I began searching for a neuro-ophthalmologist and found one nearby. (Ironically he mostly works with pediatric patients but agreed to see me.)
After a three week wait, I was seen. (Side note, neither the Neuro-ophthalmologist nor his assistant had EVER heard of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome--yup it's that rare!) . After a two hour exam, which included "test glasses" (yes I looked like a minion, haha), I was given the diagnosis of vertical heterophoria. I now wear prism glasses during all waking hours.
Four weeks later, I have had ZERO panic attacks. My vision is better than ever. Now as a disclaimer I am not a medical professional. If you are having panic attacks while driving, it may be worth a visit to the eye doctor. You never know!