It was midnight: winds snapped tree limbs resembling Medusa’s snaky hair beneath halogen streetlights. Panic seized me. I sat bolt upright, the comforter, in folds upon my lap. Still drugged from REM sleep, I fished for my slippers, then steadied myself against the bookshelf before taking a step with my cane. I knew what to do.

I made it to the living room, plopped upon the sofa. I began to rock, slowly curling my spine forward, then back. With repetitions, the tempo increased. It felt like I was being held in a vise from which there was no release: My chest was tight; my eyes, irritated; my mind, hostage to whirl-a-gig ideation—my unconscious was in full revolt against my terminal illness. Back and forth, the madness continued, unabated. I knew that it would slowly diminish when played out. It was a matter of time.

Minutes passed, encased in discrete concrete blocks. Then, the repetitions slowed—my spine straightened, my breathing returned to near normal. With the attack winding down, I leaned against the back of the sofa and checked the mantel clock: it was 12:30 in the morning.

This was not the first time I’ve had panic attacks: sourced in my unconscious, they nudge me toward the enormity of my terminal illness. All well and good, my Step-work, the blogging, and other activities of each day, but my attachments to this existence run deep, per Dr. Singh. My new learning continues …