Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mapping it out here's a list of all the things I thought I was afflicted with over the last five-ish years (and why) and all of the pretty minor things I've been told I have instead (well, except for the MAJOR anxiety!)

HIV (We've been through this one. But I took three tests up to EIGHTEEN months past my first worry. Three negative tests. The last nurse actually told me she'd better not see me back again)

Some sort of autoimmune disease - symptoms: widespread muscle pain for more than a month, fatigue, insomnia ( I insisted on seeing the doctor for this one and insisted on blood work for Lyme Disease -which I actually did have briefly as a child, Rheumatoid Arthritis, a complete blood count, etc. - all normal)

ALS (Lou Gehrig's) - The way this one came about is ridiculous, looking back, but it has reappeared a major fear approximately four times (including now!)
Background: I tried out for a game show, yes despite my anxiousness and shyness I was able to take this chance, and I made it! I was at home being quizzed on trivia questions by my mom when we came across a question about Gehrig. I asked what disease he had, again and decided to look it up, and look it up and look it up. Suddenly the "dents" in my wrists, how often my legs fell asleep, etc had become "signs". Because of a trivia card!!!! (This one went away on its own for a while and returned when - on separate occasions, I noticed that my right foot rolled in when I walked, that I couldn't balance on my toes on one side, that my knees sometimes felt like they locked up, that my toes twitched and - more recently - that my tongue twitched when I stuck it out, that my tongue sometimes felt heavy and words seemed hard to pronounce -happening right now - and that the muscles behind my toes on one side were less developed than on the other) Yeah, this one's a bad one.

Esophageal (and/or stomach) cancer - This one came after I read in an article we produced that people with GERD long-term were more likely to develeop EC. Well, candidly, I had struggled with some form of bulimia for a couple of years in college so I thought that must be WORSE. Then, the heartburn came after every meal. Then the pains in my upper left quadrant (medical web terminologies have become an integral part of my vocabulary haha). I was FREAKED and actually visited a gastroenterologist for this one. Also had a lump in the throat sensation during this time that returned during other high-anxiety periods.

Brain tumor - I'm pretty sure every single person that suffers with health anxiety has thought about this one (probably more than once). A friend of mine who deals with it has several times. My symptoms: headaches pretty constantly, sharp pains in temple (when I didn't eat or had too much caffeine...hmmm), occasional dizziness, fatigue, eye floaters (yeah - you know what those are? little spots that float in front of your eyes when you look at the sky or a white wall), nausea, a drooping eyelid (so I detected), and I'm sure there was more. This one got me two or three times.
Eventual tests: CT scan - clear; spine and brain MRI -clear

Pancreatic cancer - this one was big in the news, a coworker of mine lost his poor dad to this and it was on my mind. Suddenly I was getting major fatigue after eating and I thought it was a sign of my pancreas failing. I also thought the bottoms of my eyes looked yellow.
Tests: none

Carcinoid syndrome (yeah you probably never even heard of this one). It's a type of tumor in your intestinal tract that, if it causes the syndrome, is often bad news. My cheeks were getting red and warm after eating - I thought I was done for.
Tests: none

Skin cancer - I've had several tiny moles removed that I thought looked "suspicious" - all fine. I have had some bad sunburns in my life though so I guess this isn't a terrible one to be diligent about.

A heart attack or some heart problem - Sharp pains in chest, fast heartbeat, trouble taking deep breaths.
Tests: EKG, chest x-ray, blood tests for pulmonary embolism

Ovarian cancer - crampiness in the abdomen.
Tests: exam

Breast cancer
Tests: exam

Adult-onset cystic fibrosis (Of course I didn't know this existed until I found it online and OF COURSE it's very rare - but it was a combo of several things - my aunt tested positive as a CF carrier when she was pregnant, I felt like my breathing was shallow and "catching" and -after my internet research - I decided my sweat was too salty)
Tests: stethoscope listening, chest X-ray

Scleroderma - symptoms: freezing cold hands, pale fingers, purplish nails ( a nurse practitioner told me I might have Raynaud's one time which I researched and found could be a symptom of scleroderma, also thought skin on fingers was tight and noticed tiny broken blood vessels on face)
Tests: bloodwork for ANA - came back negative

I'm sure there are more - I just can't think of anything else at the moment. The sheer amount of diseases is mind-boggling, no? I should've been dead several times over by now, right? To someone with a "normal" rationality, this would seem unbelievable and exaggerated but I can assure you they were all very real to me.

Minor things I have been diagnosed with:
-Tension headaches
-Chronic muscle tension in the neck and upper back (seeing a chiropractor-helping!)
-Jaw clenching (not true TMJ)
-GERD (Acid reflux - treated with Nexium)
-Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction and fallen arches - accounts for my foot issue, might be due to extra bones the podiatrist discovered in my feet (what?) - can be treated by wearing orthotic inserts - waiting to have them re-fitted
-A pulled/strained muscle in the chest (my "heart attack" - treated with ibuprofen and rest)
-This weird thing where my cheeks turn pink and warm from the action of chewing (straaaaange)
-A deviated septum
-Mild IBS (often stress-related)
-ANXIETY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Likely the root of SO MANY of my "symptoms")


  1. Hello! I found your blog from It seems we are two peas in a pod in many respects. My health anxiety did not manifest itself at such a young age, but I think the seeds were planted when I saw my grandmother die of cancer when I was in college. My fears all revolve around cancer--skin, colon, breast, you name it. I also suffer from extreme anxiety at the mere thought of going to the doctor since I am convinced that my worst fears will be confirmed. Ain't life grand!

  2. It's really the constant internal battle of those of us with health anxiety. Do we get something checked out if there's a possibility it really COULD be bad news, or, do we wait hoping it will resolve on its own but risk it driving us crazy for the rest of our natural lives? Tons of fun! :P

  3. This is all so familiar.I avoid going to the doctor at all costs. I have suffered from health anxiety for a number of years but it got worse after my husband actually was diagnosed with a brain tumour and subsequently died 4 years ago. It was as if it confirmed all my worst fears and now I am hypervigilant about any small symptom. I tell myself that I am being irrational but sometimes it is very difficult

  4. Very sorry to hear about your husband :( I'm sure that makes things a million times more difficult. I hope you are able to find someone to talk to, or some technique that helps you find peace. And just know, you really aren't alone. From what I've read, people I've talked to and my own experiences - I think anxiety about health may be one of the most common psychological issues out there. Sending a prayer your way.

  5. This is like reading my life. In some weird way, it's comforting to know I'm not alone, but also awful to know that someone else has to go through this. Lately, I have been very itchy, and had strange stomach pains. I was thinking gallbladder, but now I'm thinking anxiety related. Will we ever learn?

  6. I have taken alot of solace in reading your blog. I have just come back from another desparate ER hospital dash this time for stomach discomfort ended up having an endoscopy as I was certain it was stomach cancer it was gastritis so then I spent the next hour googling how this is caused which then led me to fear I'll still end up with cancer. It's crazy and got to stop, it all started with my mums ovarian cancer 10 ys ago but has been worse over the past couple of years, I have been obsessed with breast, ovarian,and brain tumours and heart issues, spent thousands on seeing specialists and tests, I also worry excessively over my kids health and feel depressed alot in case I die and don't see them grow up. The funny thing is I know deep down much of this is an anxiety related disorder and I am trying hard to focus on the light not the doom and to stop googling! As the old adage goes "life is not a dress rehearsal" so with this I will take baby steps to visit doctors only once a year to get a mammogram and skin cancer and general health check and try hard to live the rest of the year away from the chained up fear. We can do it just have faith in the future and remember we are never alone. Sue x

  7. My heart goes out to all of you because we're all in the same boat. I too find some sort of comfort in reading that I'm not alone. Has anyone every sought therapy and if so, has it worked? This darn thing has become so consuming and so dibilitating, it's taken over my life and I don't live anymore, I just go through the motions.

  8. I am too in this boat. I have thought I had almost all of these diseases listed. It is very tiring...

  9. Ugh!! I am with you all. Since my two abdominal ct scans, I am convinced I am getting cancer in the next 20 to 30 years. It gets worse with a new friend being diagnosed with cancer each week. I know fear cell phone towers, pesticides in drinking water, plastics, etc. I hope my counselor and some medication will help. Does anyone know of people who have had ct scans many years ago and are fine? This may ease my worries. Love you all and lets help each other relax.