Today, while sitting at my desk in the cubicle farm, I noticed some sounds of mild panic and confusion coming from the cubicles one over. I got up and wandered around the corner to see a few people staring into one cube, looking a bit helpless and concerned. One of our contract workers (who really ought to have been hired on by now - stupid economy) was panting and panicking with her head in her hands, leaning onto the desk. Someone else came running back to her with an ice-packed paper towel. We managed to get her to lie down on the floor and elevate her feet; who knows if this was a logical step, but it made sense to someone.
She had been having some trouble lately with her heart; palpitations, enhanced feelings of anxiety, etc. She already has trouble with anxiety, but lately it has escalated. It had gotten to the point, by now, that she could not catch a proper breath.
I sat next to her on the floor and grabbed her hand, so that she could squeeze it. A few of us tried to get her to breathe deeply, but she either couldn't or wouldn't. We stayed that way, on the cube floor, for roughly 7-8 minutes while we waited on the medics. I actually managed to make her laugh once, which I can only hope helped. Once the medics arrived, there were really too many cooks in the kitchen, so I went back to work. They ended up taking her to the hospital.
It looked to me like a panic attack. I'm sure it started as a heart palpitation or some chest pain that was alarming, and it sent her into an attack. She kept winding herself up more, worrying aloud how she was going to pay for the medics, because she has no insurance and she can't afford prescriptions. I think she was making it worse, and so I hope the medics didn't need much to relieve the problem.
That was an interesting morning in my office. I hope she is doing better now, and that she figures out how to pay for the expenses.