On Tuesday, three days ago, I went and got a different — smaller and differently shaped — collar, and it seemed much better. I've been wearing it almost all the time since then, with only an occasional break for 15 minutes or so each day, just to give my neck a break to breathe.
But tonight, for the second time, I woke up feeling panicky because I felt like I couldn't breathe. Both times, I loosened the collar repeatedly until it was so loose that it was useless, then finally took it off entirely and found that I still felt like I couldn't breathe even once it was gone. Both times, I started panicking and took Xanax, but tonight I ended up in a full-blown panic. I couldn't get enough air and felt like I was suffocating, even half an hour after I'd taken off the collar. I was having terrible vertigo and nausea. Shannon helped me calm down, but it took a long time and was incredibly scary.
So I'm a bit scared of the collar right now. It seems fine during the day, but twice now it has caused me to panic when I woke up wearing it in the night. So I'm not putting it on again tonight but will put it on again during the day. I think I might just stop wearing it at night, because it totally is not worth it. I would rather have terrible headaches & get addicted to codeine and eventually have to wean off it with great difficulty than feel like I"m suffocating in a panic every few days.
Anyway, I finally felt better tonight (most likely because the Xanax finally took effect) and decided to try to sleep for a while on the couch in the same room with Shannon & with my stuffed animal Sasha for additional anti-fear relief. I slept fine, but woke up with continuing vertigo and nausea, but at least I no longer feel like I"m suffocating.
I see the neurologist again on Thursday, and I think I'll stop wearing the collar when I sleep until then. He and I can discuss it when I see him.