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Author Topic: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?  (Read 8199 times)

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Offline MmeMulot

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Hi, I'm new posting here, although I've read the boards some for awhile. I've been plagued with health anxiety for quite a few years. I've always been convinced that I had some terrible deadly disease -- usually some kind of cancer, but also things like MS or ALS. So far, I haven't been found to have any of them. I have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and anxiety.

Now, though, I have a REAL health problem to worry about. Blood tests found that I have a low white blood cell count, specifically the neutrophils. A "safe" level is above 1500, and mine was 800. The doctor wants to monitor my count with a blood test every week for a month. If the count doesn't go up, then I'll have to have a bone-marrow biopsy to determine if I have something very serious like leukemia.

The hemotology doctor thinks that it's possible that a medicine I'm taking for my ulcerative colitis could be causing it, but my gastro doctor says he's never heard of that, even though it's listed on the medicine info pages as a VERY VERY rare side effect. And since I've been taking the medicine for five years, I think it would've been caught before now if that was the case.

I am of course totally freaking out. I'm terrified of dying and am convinced that I have leukemia and will die. My mind automatically goes to the worst possible outcome. At least with all the past incidences where a disease was "all in my head," part of me could hold onto that possibility because the tests didn't show anything wrong. But now when the tests DO show something wrong, what can I hold onto? How do I deal with my health anxiety when I really might have something terrible wrong with me???
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Offline Lux

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Re: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2006, 05:12:53 PM »
MmeMulot-

Maybe this is not what you want to hear, but I personally think it is advice that you should at least consider.  Although it might not be a scientific fact, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence and a few studies that have shown that positive thinking has a helpful effect on the body.  When your mind is determined to survive and be healthy, your body will do its best to follow suit.

Of course, having lived with health anxiety, you have probably heard a thousand times that worrying won't make anything better.  For most of us hypos, there is nothing wrong with us, so thinking positively is pretty much the answer by itself.  If there is something wrong with you, though, positive thought can still help improve your situation.  If you have a strong resolve to beat whatever is getting the best of you, if you know that you are stronger than that, and if you really believe that you can get through whatever it is, then you have a fighting chance at the very least.

From what you said, it sounds like you should assume for the time being that your low blood count is caused by the medication you've been taking, especially since that is listed as a side effect.  Consider how few medications list that as a side effect.  It seems like, even though the side effect is rare, there's still a better chance that it's caused by the meds than that it's not caused by the meds but you happen to be taking meds that could cause it.  (Did that make any sense?)  Even though you've been taking it for a long time, it's possible that your body was able to counteract that side effect on its own and has just become too exhausted to keep that blood count up anymore.

I sincerely hope that everything turns out fine in the end, and that you keep us posted.  Remember that this is health anxiety just like all the other times, and if you have methods of dealing with plain old HA, use those methods now, too. 
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Offline MmeMulot

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Re: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2006, 06:29:37 PM »
Lux,

Thank you so much for the reply! It was very thoughtful and helpful.

I definitely know that positive thinking is supposed to be good for you when you're fighting a disease, and trying to be positive is something I've struggled to attain for years. I've bought books and seen therapists. But unfortunately, so far I haven't been able to accomplish it in any significant way. I am the world's worst pessimist! My philosophy has pretty much been "Expect the worst, and anything else is a pleasant surprise." It seems like anytime I reach a point where I might could get some positivity, something happens to undermine it. I don't think I'm strong at all, and that scares me. But I guess the only thing I can do is keep trying.
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Offline Parrotsmuggler

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Re: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2006, 06:39:50 PM »
Hey there, although I'm only 23, I've been on more medications than most 50 year olds, I'm sorry to report! And I can tell you that so-called rare side effects are much more common than the manufacturers would have you believe.

For example, I'm currently taking a drug called Pariet for a hiatal hernia and acid reflux. When I first started taking the drug, three so-called rare side effects hit me pretty hard. Urinary frequency was the worst...I was getting up four or five times to go to the washroom before I even fell asleep. If I forgot to take the medication one day, the next time I took it I would be hit with a horrible headache. I also experienced tremendous thirst. Now, according to the manufacturer's pamphlet, these side effects are possible, although very rare. The fact that I was hit with three of these side effects makes me think that they're not so rare after all.

I know this is only anecdotal evidence and is hardly scientific, but I know from my time on MedHelp and other forums that many others have had similar experiences with medications. So try to rest easy until the verdict is in...I know, easier said than done.
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Offline MmeMulot

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Re: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2006, 11:47:05 AM »
Thank you for your post, Parrotsmuggler. (Fun username there!) I'm trying really hard to hold on to the possibility that it's the medicine instead of leukemia or something else serious, but it's extremely hard. I'm having a pretty bad day so far today. B-; You'd think I'd be used to the anxiety and waiting on test results by now!
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roll em

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Re: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2006, 04:58:00 PM »

Parrotsmuggler's right on the money here. My experience of Meds are side effects can be more common than  'advertised' especially when you have been taking something for a long time.

take care

Roll em

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Offline staci13

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Re: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2010, 03:11:53 AM »
Thank you so much for your post. It really helps a lot of us.
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Offline tofutti83

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Re: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2010, 07:13:13 PM »
I've had to deal with this myself, it certainly is tough.
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Offline lovehopelive

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Re: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2014, 11:00:54 PM »
How can you deal? I have tried everything that everyone has ever taught me or showed me? I cant deal, I feel so alone
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Offline xxAmyxx

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Re: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2014, 11:24:40 PM »
I bet it's your UC meds! Which ones are you taking? I was dx'd w/UC (pancolitis - lucky me) in 08. I took 3 different 5ASA's (the most gentle of the UC meds they said) and they made me even MORE ill. I refused any further meds, (they wanted me on 6mp) and tried all natural treatment. 2 years later my next scope showed NO colitis, as well as the biopsies! My GI said I didn't need to see him any more. Anywho, my point being I think the UC meds can really mess with your whole body, have you considered any alternative treatments?
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Offline PrinceOfWorry

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Re: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2014, 03:32:41 AM »
I would bet that that "very very rare side effect" is way way more common than leukemia.
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Offline mollagan

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Re: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2014, 11:01:06 AM »
I too have health anxiety and reason to believe that I am truly sick. I am waiting on test results right now. I feel the same way.. how do you deal when there is a possiblity that you really are sick?? I used to think i may be sick, but always used the "its just my anxiety" card. Now i cant fall back on that as my last test results showed possible problems and i have recently had the symptoms as well, so more tests :(. I'm hoping my anxiety created the symptoms after being told by my doctors so many times what to expect, but I really cant tell if its a true illness or my anxiety. Only the test results will tell. Good luck to you! Stay positive ;)
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Offline Allytiel90

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Re: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2014, 01:59:32 PM »
Don't know if anyone noticed, but this is a very old thread from 2006!
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Offline Hypo84

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Re: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2014, 02:06:29 PM »
Don't know if anyone noticed, but this is a very old thread from 2006!

 ;D ;D ;D
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Offline xxAmyxx

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Re: How to deal with health anxiety when you have real health problems?
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2014, 02:50:27 PM »
Ooops!  :spineyes:
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