Even dogs know planes are crowded

There was a woman who inconvenienced about 200 people on a trans-Atlantic flight, some fighter pilots, and a whole lot of emergency crews because she had a panic attack because she was claustrophobic. People are such assholes. Federal criminal charges! If she wants to get to the US from the UK, she can swim next time. WIDE OPEN SPACES IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN. Of course, if she’s afraid of crowded planes, she’s probably afraid of water. And the cold temperature. And sharks. Oh you know what – just stay home and don’t bother other people with your crap.

At the risk of angering certain advocates who won’t even let a teddy bear company sell a funny bear without some whining, most people who have panic attacks are ridiculous. I speak from experience when I say without a doubt that the most effective treatment for panic attacks, anxiety attacks, or whatever attacks that are wimpy in nature is some form of solitary confinement. Otherwise known as the silent treatment.

Medical literature has been very diplomatic in this area for fear of offending said advocates, instead always referring to some vague pathophysiology behind these attacks. Let’s be clear – it doesn’t appear to be anything but a learned behavioral problem prevalent in spoiled, selfish, attention-seeking assholes who don’t care about what other people, usually their families, may have scheduled for the day. And they certainly don’t care that all paramedics hate every single one of these dumbasses for having to actually show up to these stupid calls to babysit them.

So this is how the idea of solitary confinement works; it never fails – every time we go on some panic attack call disguised as “shortness of breath” because of the requisite hyperventilation or “chest pain” because the human body is not supposed to breathe in and out 100 times a minute, we remove the patient from the overly concerned and overly coddling family members, place the patient in the ambulance, refuse all family ride-alongs, dim the lights, and ignore the patient. Not once have we reached the hospital without any change in behavior. Drama queens need an audience; no audience, no show. The occasional threat of IV starts in such patients in their teens is particularly gratifying. (Usually: “Cut this shit out or we have to start big IVs because the hospital’s going to think you’re really dying. Which you’re not.”) A slap in the face doesn’t work as quickly. The guilt trip about how they’re spoiled brats because their “acting up” makes their parents worry about nothing works as well.

That being said, this plague is never going away. People like their psych meds, and drug companies like their profits. Who cares if an hour at the gym actually manages your issues better than meds? Too much work!

3 thoughts on “Even dogs know planes are crowded”

  1. Y’know, there’s a difference between a panic attack and an attention-seeker.

    For example: I have PTSD. It’s real, believe me. I’m not medicated, because it’s bullpoop. Panic attacks suck, nightmares suck, flashbacks suck, but a deep breath and my own voice in my own head telling me I’m okay is more than enough. All that’s really necessary is calmly excusing myself, removing myself from whatever is triggering the panic attack, taking a deep breath, and pulling myself together before going back in to deal with whatever I had to put on hold. No ambulances, no drama, most of the time people just think I’m going out for a smoke, or need a trip to the bathroom. That’s a panic attack. And that’s how you fix it.

    The first time it happened though? I’d had no idea what was going on. Neither did the boy I was dating at the time, and he ended up calling 911 (which actually made it all worse). The EMTs were assholes, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and was gasping for air, and they told me to quit faking. Which made it worse, not better. Only when a police officer told me to close my eyes, count to ten, and take a deep breath, did I actually calm down. I was 17. I’d been home from the hospital after the trauma at that point maybe three days. I honestly thought I was dying all over again, that I’d somehow collapsed my lung again, or something. I ended up apologizing to the crew, embarrassed as fuck, and frantically trying to give them brownies to at least help salvage the trip. Even though they really were complete assholes.

    That said, I can sympathize with the whole “It is just a panic attack, I’m wasting my time here, and someone could end up hurt because of it” attitude. I’ve known plenty of malingerers who use things like panic attacks as an excuse for attention, or just all around fake it. Unfortunately, they’re the ones that routinely call 911.

    1. I was going to post something similar, as I’m going through something similar due to being an crime victim, and am getting tired of ignorant pricks who think I’m just being a brat or a wimp and should “get over it”. I hope someday the asshole that writes this blog has to suffer through a *real* panic attack, and the people around him treat him with the same scorn and indifference that he gives his patients.

      1. i tried to reply to this commenter’s e-mail but apparently the e-mail address is invalid. anyway, i managed to resist the urge to be mischievous, and here’s my reply that bounced.

        hi there,

        what i write at this blog is not always the same as how i behave on calls. you can judge me by a single post on the topic, but my conscience is clear. crystal clear. i take care of the people who call us, as do most providers. if you think we don’t complain about how silly most of our calls are, you’re kidding yourself.

        if you’re interested, this related post was written in march, long before you posted your comment: http://burnedoutmedic.com/2011/03/a-good-investment-i-hope/

        as i was explaining to another commenter, i sincerely sympathize with people who have suffered true emotional trauma such as PTSD, being victims of crime, being war veterans, etc. these are NOT the people we in EMS dislike. however, we very seldom see these folks, because these folks very seldom use 911 for their anxiety attacks. many of these folks coach themselves out of their events. i have responded to many, many people over the years who had anxiety attacks or similar events, and i certainly haven’t met anyone who belongs in the aforementioned groups who have suffered true emotional trauma, simply because most of them do not choose to involve us.

        instead, who we are referring to are the people who call us because they have their anxiety attacks after arguments with boy/girlfriends or family members, the kids who act up at home or at school, or whatever other reason there is. in fact, this subgroup of patients constitute a significant portion of our call volume. their triggers are nothing compared to people with true emotional scars, and they do not need us or doctors. but they certainly take up valuable resources. i’m lucky if they don’t leave the emergency department before my paperwork is finished.

        good luck to you.

Leave a Reply