Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It's Back!

I’m not in the mood to blog. I only had one small occurrence today that lasted about half an hour and isn’t really worth mentioning. I was momentarily convinced that I had an infection in my right ear that was spreading to my jaw and was working it’s way to my brain where it would manifest itself into Encephalitis and kill me.

Okay, I just had to find the correct spelling of Encephalitis and was exposed to the symptom list. Now I’m really scared. My neck is stiff and hurting and the pain in my jaw and ear is back. I’m nauseous and experiencing blurred vision.

I think I’m on the verge of a panic attack. I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned it, I gotta get out of here, I can’t breathe. I’m freaking out…


Anonymous said...

Hey, I just happened upon your blog, and I thought I'd say hey. I know that I personally take a dim view of anyone telling me that they can relate to how I feel when I suffer what I usually refer to as "a bit of a spastic episode". So I won't say that I know how you feel. But I will say that I sort of caught myself grinning when I read the thing about encephalitis. Not because it's funny that you were terrified or anything, but because I was always convinced that I had Meningitis. I never thought of Encephalitis. That's probably a good thing though.
I don't want to get too long winded, but it's interesting to read the blog of another hypochondriac, especially one who is only a few years younger than me. It's kind of like looking four years into the past.
I don't know if this will help at all, but I used to be a hardcore hypochondriac, and now I'm only a mild to moderate one. But I've found a few things that helped tremendously. Some of them I'm sure you're probably already familiar with.
Avoid lots of stimulants, I don't ever have any problems when I drink lots of soda, but too much coffee will send me off the deep end. I still take Methylphenidate for my ADD, but such a high dose was prescribed to me that it would cause problems. Now, I just take half a pill at a time, and that helps.
Strangely enough, too much alcohol was also problematic, not while I was drinking though. It would usually be an issue the next day, kind of instead of a hangover.
Also, I've found that sleep deprivation is the absolute worst thing I can do.
But I think that the most helpful thing I've done is get on Lexapro.
It occurred to me that maybe what was always wrong with me was that I always thought something was wrong with me, and I knew that there had to be a drug to cure that.
So there you go, like I said, I hope I haven't sounded like I was patronizing you with all of my "oh, boy, I've been there," nonsense, because I'm not trying to be. But I am painfully familiar with how much it sucks to constantly be convinced that you've got something desperately wrong with you that could be fatal if it isn't tended to immediately by knowledgeable medical professionals. I though I had Esophogeal Cancer for two years, because I had a lump in my throat that was always there when I swallowed. Eventually I started losing wait because when I would try to eat I would often sort of choke, because the food just would stop moving. I asked my doctor about it, he suggested that the lump in my throat was imagined, that it was just brought on by stress.
This didn't help, because that non-diagnosis only left me enough room to wonder if he might be wrong, so I remained convinced that it was cancer. Later when I moved to FL, I got a new Doctor, who within seconds of hearing me list my symptoms told me I had Acid Reflux. To make a long story well, slightly less long, he was right. For two years, I thought I had cancer, I had basically resigned to the fact that I was going to die before I turned 25, and I did it for nothing.
Sorry for the lengthy diatribe, I just thought that I would give some kind of Hypochondriac credientals.
Seriously, I would suggest Lexapro, only because it is the only thing that I've tried that has worked. Don't get me wrong, I still have my moments, but they are literally that, just moments of worry, and they are far more infrequent.
Anyways, good luck.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, screw WebMD, that sight would terrify anybody, theres just enough info to scare the hell out of you. The next time you insist on e-diagnosing yourself, go to www.medlineplus.gov. It's a might more comprehensive website which has, in the past informed me well enough to be able to rule out the possibility of various illnesses that I'd thought I'd had.
Ok, well, later.

Leila V. said...

Thanks for tipping me off to medlineplus.com. It's not that I enjoyed hearing about the Esophogeal Cancer, but it is comforting to know I'm not alone. I have to agree with you on the stimulants too. I've cut down on my intake lately but am still a somewhat heavy coffee and alcohol drinker. I think my next step will be to cut back on the alcohol consumption, but not this weekend. Hope to hear from you again...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's me again, a thought occured to me a few moments ago as I was reading a little further back in your posts. I noticed that you mentioned something about a sore throat, and also that you are somewhat of a heavy drinker, of both coffee and alcohol. Both of those liquids have the effect of increasing both the acidity and amount of gastric acid, which is one of the contributing factors for acid reflux. Since I also used to be a heavy alcohol(for the hypochondria related anxiety), and coffee(for when I later gave up alcohol) drinker, I can say for certain that acid reflux can cause a lot of problems that you wouldn't think it would, and that you can have it without any of the symptoms that it would seem like it should present. For instance, I really didn't have a problem with heartburn or anything like that, but I would get a sore throat for no reason occasionally, and I would sometimes wake up with a slight hoarseness in my voice. As it turns out, the only real time that the acid reflux was a problem was when I was asleep, so I just never noticed it. But I certainly notice now that it isn't there anymore, because a lot of the little random pains, sensations or weirdnesses I had in the area from my shoulders up went away when I started taking Prevacid for it. And as a bonus, since those little random pains, sensations and weirdnesses were often what caused me to freak right out and think that I had something desperately wrong with me, that cleared up in a large way as well. So I'd strongly urge you to present that possibility to your doctor, if any of this sounds at all like it might be applicable to your situation.
Lastly, it occurred to me as I was writing this, that when I was still in the grip of my hardcore hypochondria, I used to drink heavily. By heavily I mean to say that I would have thought it would have caused liver or brain damage before it did any damage to my stomach. Also, I'm a pretty heavy smoker, I frequently run myself ragged with sleep deprivation, I take stimulants all day long, maintain an obscenely poor diet, and wind down most days with a TylenolPM to help me sleep. So for someone who is constantly convinced that they are going to die, I am certainly doing everything I can to speed up the process. How's that for a depressing little circus of self discover.
Anyways, I've managed to spiral off into a ridiculous wasteland of moronic, psuedo-philosophical nonsense...and it's really kind of embarrassing, so I'm gonna go now.
Take care.

Leila V. said...

I know exactly how you feel. I wonder that same thing myself - if I’m really so concerned about dying, why won’t I exercise more, cut the cheese out of my diet, stop drinking, or even just be happier in the short time I have to live? And, why is it always the most rare disease causing the stomach pain instead of the binge drinking and horrible diet? I guess that’s the beauty of being a hypochondriac.

You’re making me think with the acid reflux; I have a never-ending swollen and sore throat that I’ve self-diagnosed as tonsillitis. I also get really bad pains in my chest and sides that frequently escalate into a collapsed lung or swollen organ. But, I’m frustrated with my doctor right now and don’t dare bring it up to her. It seems like she dismisses my complaints as imaginary, and I don’t know why. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of masking my hypochondria to her (maybe not).

One thing that has really helped me a lot though is exercising a few times a week. Nothing heavy, just a mile walk after work, it’s a good stress reliever. I was convinced I had breast cancer for about 6 months and after just a couple weeks of steady walking the pain and lump were gone…

Kristen said...

I can't agree more with cutting the caffeine and alcohol consumption. I stopped caffeine altogether. There were times it really threw me right into a panic attack. You might try keeping a journal of when your worrying and panic starts and what is going on at the time, what you've just ate or drank, and who is around. It might give you some insight into some of the contributing factors. It has for me.

As far as the alcohol goes, the anonymous person is absolutely right - the next day or when the alcohol is wearing off can cause an increase in anxiety symptoms (part of the withdrawal your body is going through). If I drink I almost always notice I'm more anxious as the alcohol is wearing off. In addition, if you drink before bedtime it can actualy make your sleep lighter and cause you to have more awakenings.


Anonymous said...

If I have to be crazy, why can't I at least be original? Upper GI series x-ray just proved I'm not dying, and a bit of healthy living would fix me right up. If I'd seen the exact description of my "condition" posted by Anonymous in 2006 a few weeks ago, I might've gotten some sleep this month... keep up the posts Leila, you're making all our lives a little easier!