While the pandemic and the lockdowns increased the number of people experiencing mental health issues, even in the several pre-pandemic years an increasing number of people had been seeking medical help for their panic attack and anxiety disorder symptoms. Such was the case with the 36-year-old K. Grau, who decided to share her story with the public in an effort to raise awareness about panic attacks and eventually help as many people as possible in proper diagnosis and treatment.
Speaking to Today few days ago, Grau still has hard times to explain the puzzling symptoms she started suffering for the first time back in 2017. Grau said that memories of her childhood would randomly pop up in her head, and they will be gone in a few seconds leaving her feel strange. Beside the flashbacks, she eventually started experiencing brain fog and ‘uncomfortable episodes of fear’ which she thought were panic attacks.
Until two years ago, Grau thought her symptoms were something periodical and she expected they will be gone after some time, but her brain fog started becoming an everyday problem as she had hard times to concentrate and focus on literally everything. Grau recalled to a situation when she even forgot the name of the company she worked for during a conference. The Ill. based event director knew that she should visit a doctor.
“I’m like, this is so embarrassing. I was 34 years old at that time, and I know where I work and who I am. But I just couldn’t pull it out of my mind,” she told Today.
In early 2020, a counselor referred Grau to psychiatrist, who confirmed she was likely experiencing panic attacks and prescribed Xanax, a medication to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Grau tried to treat her symptoms with the pills for a few months, but the pills didn’t help at all despite she was determined and consistent with the treatment.
Everything changed late April when Grau’s husband Anders found her in the morning unconscious, with her arms stiff and her jaw clenched. Grau was in the grips of a grand mal seizure, a type that involves the entire body. Anders immediately took her to the nearest hospital. The results of the MRI and other tests conducted that day showed something devastating, Grau had a growing tumor deep in her brain. She was treated and had her tumor removed last year.
The doctors who removed the growth confirmed that the symptoms she had experienced during the years were due to the position of the tumor in her brain. The medical team added that the surgery was complicated because the spot they had to reach was challenging, but were able to remove as much of the tumor as possible. While tiny pieces of the tumor might have remained inside, everyone is positive that with regular tests and treatment the tumor won’t come back.
Grau says she felt weak after the surgery, but remains psychologically strong and completely dedicated in further treating the problem, including regular checkups and screenings. More than a year since the surgery, she hasn’t had a seizure or strange flashbacks and she and her husband are now expecting their first child.
Grau wanted to share her story with the public and raise awareness encouraging everyone who experiences panic-attack like symptoms to make additional tests as people are often misdiagnosed with panic attacks because they’re much more common than having a tumor.