How Endless Circles Can Lead to Frustration

On the HAE symptoms loop, anxiety can cause a flare, causing more anxiety

Danita LaShelle Jones avatar

by Danita LaShelle Jones |

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“It’s how much?” I asked the salesperson in disbelief.

“Six hundred and seventy-three dollars,” he repeated, as if it didn’t sound ridiculous.

I was baffled.

During the summer before my final year of college, I attempted to go “full adult” and buy my first cellphone. The problem, however, was that I didn’t have an established line of credit. Of course I didn’t. I was a student.

Unfortunately, to develop a line of good credit back then, I had to show a history of paying bills on time. But to acquire an account to pay toward my credit, I had to have credit already.

I left the store disappointed and phoneless, convinced that the never-ending cycle would plague me for the rest of my life.

When I asked “established” adults what to do, nobody seemed to have any answers. Instead, words like “co-sign” and “underwriter” kept popping up. But because most people had run into this issue at my age, they shrugged and said, “Welcome to the curse of needing credit.”

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Understanding My Own Weird Habits Allowed Me to Help My Daughter Relax

Over 20 years later, while no longer stuck in the vicious circle of acquiring credit, I discovered another cycle that sneakily revealed itself.

When our daughter, lovingly nicknamed Ladybug, was diagnosed with hereditary angioedema (HAE) in 2021, we feverishly read much information about what to expect. That kind of research helped us learn about prodromes, the fatigue that hints at a pending flare, and the different places on her body we could expect her flares to show.

When I glanced over the list of things that may trigger HAE flares, I was surprised to find anxiety on that list. But I wasn’t concerned. Ladybug, at the time of her diagnosis, was 11 years old. So what were the odds of her developing anxiety?

The odds were very high.

With a phobia of needles, her inability to describe how she was feeling, and her unrelated asthma, my heart broke when Ladybug began to experience anxiety. Predictably, those moments would lead to flares.

Admittedly, I didn’t realize her anxiety and flares could be related. I would administer a Berinert infusion, note when her flare subsided, and assume that with the unpredictability of HAE, we’d prepare ourselves for the next one.

One day, in the absence of allergens, food triggers, and a brief break from infusions and hospital visits, Ladybug experienced an abdominal flare. Her immediate discomfort gave her severe anxiety, which worsened the flare. No matter how much I attempted to relax her, I couldn’t help but realize we’d entered a vicious cycle. She was anxious because she was having a flare, which triggered flares, which gave her anxiety.

In most cases, I rely on a cute quip or quote to reveal that we found the answers to this challenge. But we haven’t. Occasionally, we still find ourselves in what I’ve aptly named the “Flare Loop.”

But we keep trying. We find ways and methods that teach Ladybug how to relax; we try to encourage her that every flare, although not ideal, won’t last forever; and recently, the new four-legged family member we just adopted helps take her focus off what makes her the most uncomfortable.

Even without all the solutions, we keep navigating our way. Hopefully, if we find the answers, we’ll be able to share those, too.

Note: Angioedema News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angioedema News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to angioedema.


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