Hi all, so I have fallen victim to the ALS Anxiety affliction - my story is in my forum intro thread here if you want to read: http://www.anxietyzone.com/index.php/topic,71273.0.html
So here's the deal: In the past two weeks I've run through about every symptom I thought possible with ALS. I've imagined I had difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, difficulty walking, I have performed all kinds of strength checks on my hands, limbs, feet, etc. And then I found this wonderful forum and wrote a novel about myself. I have also read a lot of the great information in this section as it pertains to health anxiety in particular.
My fear has become irrational. I have harbored little tidbits of information that has only fueled my anxiety of this - for example; ALS typically strikes between the ages of 40 and 50 (I'm turning 40 this year), people who were in the military are twice as likely to get it (served 8 years in the Navy), slightly higher percentage of men than women that get it (check) and a few others. Never mind the fact that despite those things, the odds of becoming afflicted with it are still ridiculously in my favor, as it so rare. But there are those that are actually diagnosed with it, the odds certainly didn't work in their favor...
Anyway, back to the point - I've thought I was experiencing symptoms of ALS in just about every part of my body. Started with the widespread muscle twitching, then after learning of ALS, began thinking I had symptoms of weakness, all the stuff I mentioned above. Finally scheduled the appt with my GP, whom I saw yesterday finally
... and we actually spent a good hour or more talking about anxiety. He prescribed me Buspar and referred me to a counselor to better get my anxiety under control, because yes - whether I have ALS, MS or any other horrible disease I definitely have let anxiety consume me.
Of course I brought up with great enthusiasm my fears of having ALS - he did some clinical checks; had to do the open my mouth and say "ahhh" thing, and no sign of bulbar onset ALS there.. he looked at my hands, noticing zero sign of typical ALS related muscle wasting there... said I had nothing to worry about. It's all in my head. No need to even refer me to a neuro.
So - I left there feeling great, ready to tackle the true source of my problem which is health anxiety. Really didn't notice any of the previous symptoms oddly enough, so there's a good sign right?
Today, I decide I'm going to go to the gym. Combination of aerobic exercise and weight lifting. Ran 2 miles, jumped rope for about five minutes, then lifted weights at about the same weight I usually lift. No problems, though I was paying particular attention to a persisting aching/weak feeling in my left hand.
The left hand thing has me troubled... I seem to have lost a bit of dexterity in that hand, the joints around the first and second knuckle seem sore and achy.. and since my GP looked at my hands yesterday, I'm now obsessed with looking at them for any visible signs. On the way into the gym, I dropped my keys when handing them to the girl at the front to scan my membership card. Instant thought - ALS. It's like I have lost a bit of control and dexterity in that hand and even as I'm typing this now, I feel a bit of weakness in my left index finger and there's a small bit of pain involved. For the past couple weeks I recall a few instances where it was a bit harder to find the right key on my chain to open the door with that hand, or even pick up a few walnuts from a plate with that hand.. it's not the weight that's the issue, it's the control. I just lifted a 20 pound engineering manual in my office one-handed with my left hand up and over my head, only clamping my fingers around the top to prove this point.
Now, it could be from overuse - I work at a computer all day long, I work out a lot and oh! Recently I took a bit of a fall when a picnic table bench gave way underneath me while I was standing on it - came down hard on my left arm and hand, but I did catch myself. Maybe something happened there..
But nonetheless I'm back to fearing it's ALS related, even one day after my GP telling me there's no way I have it. I know that, especially in the early onset period, it can be difficult to diagnose. But I also understand that it progresses rather quickly and the effects are irreversible.. if its bad it will stay bad and keep getting worse. My mind is a battleground at this point - I don't know what to think anymore.
I just started taking the Buspar today.. I'm hoping this will help, and am going to seek help from his recommended counselor as soon as I get my insurance approval.
I'm here on this forum because it seemed like a better place to be given my circumstances - I've fallen victim to health anxiety and I don't want to search any more symptoms on the web. So I'm telling them to you all. My doc wanted to see me again in four weeks as a follow up on the meds and counseling, etc., so my hope is by then I'll be well on my way to recovering from these attacks of paranoia. There are good days and worse days when dealing with this... I'm sure you all can relate.
Thanks for reading,