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Author Topic: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(  (Read 591 times)

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Offline Katarzyna

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Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« on: November 18, 2013, 03:30:33 AM »
To cut the story short, I am home in Canada now (since Friday morning) from my beloved new home in China, after a bunch of health issues and scares that started with a rogue UTI. Bacially I wasn't properly taken care of in China, so now I am home in Canada to rest and get proper medical treatment until I can go back.


I live in rural China (in the province of Hunan), where rabies is of high prevalence.  As far as I know, though, 95% of human rabies cases in my area result from bites from rabid dogs, and the remainder is from bites/scratches from rabid cats and even though rabies in bats have been discovered, it has only affected a few people to date (and the majority of rabies in bats have been found in fruit bats, not insectivorous bats).

Because I'm out in the rural area, and outside at sunset a lot of the time, there are so, so many insectivorous bats swooping around and flying around to catch all the bugs. One time about 1 month - 1 1/2 months ago, I was walking from my office to my apartment, and a bat swooped around me (it was trying to fly through a part of the building to get to the other side - the stairwells are open-air in my school). I have no real reason to think that it hit me, because I felt absolutely no impact, didn't see an impact, and pretty much saw the bat fly away without any indication that it hit something (ie: me). Even though the bat came so close and stopped me in my tracks, I still don't *think* it came into contact with me.

Of course, I know about bats and rabies and immediately got home and went Googling. You can't feel a bat bite, etc etc etc. Ah! I checked my arms for bit marks and found none. Of course, one of my fingers (I'm pretty sure it was my middle finger on my right hand) started itching afterwards, but after *extreme* close inspection under intense lighting I found 0 scratches and 0 bite marks.

I went on with my life.

2 1/2 weeks ago I got very sick with a UTI, and after medication was given to me, I started getting other weird symptoms like a swollen throat (thought it was allergic reaction), and then since then I've gotten thrush, and have been on approximately 10 different medications, both Western and Chinese Traditional.
I had to fight with the hospitals about my symptoms, and even went down to a more Western part of China to be able to see a Western doctor.
In the end, no one could fix me, so I am home.
This alone, before I even thought of the rabies, gave me extreme, EXTREME stress and health anxiety issues. Sometimes I was dying of fungal meningitis, other times I had heart/chest problems (boy, the flight was fun with the chest pain and palpitations let me tell you). Sometimes I would have sepsis.

Now, I have rabies.

My symptoms:

Twitching and spasming legs (started 1.5 weeks ago), slight tension-like headache (started 2 weeks ago - which has gotten better over the past week), difficulty breathing/sometimes difficulty swallowing (but this has happened over the years), extreme anxiety, extreme fatigue, diagnosed thrush, tingling hands (started over a month ago, comes and goes) etc...

ALL OF THESE SYMPTOMS CAN BE EXPLAINED BY ANXIETY and/or running around the country for 2.5 weeks and/or just extreme physical and emotional stress and/or jetlag from a 13 hour time difference. I know this. And none of them have gotten worse (if anything, they have gotten better; mainly the spasms, headache, etc).
I also have OCD and GAD.

I'm just so worried about my near-bat encounter that probably didn't happen because I would have probably felt a bat ram into me at the speed that it was flying - and these bats aren't necessarily small.
Of course, since I've researched symptoms of rabies, I don't want to drink water any more and all of my symptoms from above are attributed with rabies *sigh*.

Please, please help me!

I want to be able to go back to China to continue teaching in a few weeks, but if I let these health anxieties get to me, I will never be able to go back.
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Offline Stressed Jumper

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Re: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2013, 10:03:42 AM »
 I know this is going to sound nasty but think of it as a weird kind of reassurance: you do not have rabies because if you did you would be dead by now. Once clinical signs of rabies appear in a human the victim dies within 2 to 10 days, so if the bat hit you over a month ago and your symptoms started weeks ago then you are are in the clear.  All your symptoms sound like good old anxiety to me and I have experienced many of them myself with my GAD and panic attacks.  Are you on any meds for your anxiety?  If not it is something you may want to consider, or at least talk to a doc about the possibility.  I was a mess before starting on Zoloft (with a side order of Xanax) and now that the start up side effects have gone away I am almost "normal" again.  I still have moments of increased anxiety but nothing like before and nothing I can't manage with some deep breathing.  Hang in there and feel better!

P.S. Before I was on meds I had to fly from New York to South Korea to visit my husband for christmas when he was posted there (Army) right after North Korea had bombed an island less than 50 miles from the airport I was flying into. I got to enjoy 14 hours of sleepless panic while wedged between two snoring college students in coach.  I feel your pain!
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Offline Katarzyna

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Re: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2013, 06:43:26 PM »
Thanks.

I went to the ER this morning in shambles. They don't think I have a risk because I don't remember the bat actually touching me/landing on me/anything.

Of course, I felt better so I fell asleep while watching a movie with my mom.

Now, I have a little bit of the sniffles, my muscles cramp a bit in my back (can be explained by the couch), but I feel like I can be having a sore throat coming on.

*****! The earliest symptoms of it strike again.



Thebatdidn'ttouchmethebatdidn'ttouchmethebatdidn'ttouchme.

Any other words of wisdom before I drive myself crazy (even if I do get sick?).
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Offline Stressed Jumper

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Re: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2013, 12:14:04 AM »
It sounds like you are coming down with a jet-lag cold.  My hubby has flown back and forth from Korea 8 times and gotten sick after six of them.  My mother has done similar.  It is normal for your immune system to be depleted after long flights and lack of sleep...annoying, but normal.  Get plenty of Vitamin C, plenty of sleep, and maybe some echinacea, and you will be fine.  Hang in there!
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Offline snschoo

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Re: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2013, 01:14:47 AM »
Hi Katarzyna.  I am currently going through rabies anxiety as well, and just wanted to reassure you that there is hardly ANY chance of you having contracted rabies from a bat flying near you.  While I know that your anxiety over this can be absolutely terrifying (I'm having a bad night myself), just remember that what you're experiencing as rabies incubation symptoms are actually just anxiety.  I too have experienced the muscle spasming pretty much all over my body as well as the tension headaches.  I went to two different ERs on three separate occasions as I was absolutely convinced that some pinpricks on my finger were from a bat bite, and they assured me that all my symptoms were anxiety related.  As I type this, I'm even experiencing tingling in my hand that sustained the "bat bite".  It's an uphill battle dealing with this, but the golden rule is to stay away from Google!!  Before I found this forum, I bounced back and forth between the CDC website and numerous other random searches on the symptoms of rabies incubation.  While it may seem reassuring at the time to look at symptoms you aren't currently experiencing, I assure you that your anxiety will soon take over and cause you to feel what you will become absolutely POSITIVE is rabies.  A member on this site actually helped me a great deal in regards to overcoming this, and while it's still a very real fear of mine, you just have to take it a day at a time.  The good news is that being 30 days out from having come into the same area as a bat means that you will soon be in the clear for the timeframe of rabies incubation.  Just keep your head up, as I really do believe that it's very unlikely that you've contracted the virus.  Be well!
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Offline Katarzyna

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Re: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2013, 07:36:39 AM »
Thank you guys.

Thinking about it, this may have even happened about 2 months ago, even. I can't even remember. Yeah, it probably happened closer to the middle of September.

The main issue that I'm having right now is my "difficulty swallowing", which can of course, also come from anxiety and over-thinking. When I was at the ER yesterday, they sent me a "crisis counselor" and she told me that all of my symptoms can be from anxiety (which I had already known). I usually don't have difficulty swallowing, so in my head it's like "well, this is for sure rabies, then!".

I have never had hypochondria this bad. I usually only have chest-pain/heart palp anxiety, and I'm usually pretty good at controlling that. I think it's just because it's the nature of the rabies disease that is making it this bad. In my head, I'm still somewhat convinced that I am a goner (because of the difficulty swallowing bit). My throat actually doesn't hurt after waking up this morning.

The more I think about the difficulty swallowing, the harder it will be to swallow! Ah!  ::)

I just wish I didn't remember that "encounter" with a bat. Even if the bat did run into me (which it didn't), the chances of it having bitten me is low. Even if it did bite me, the chances of it having rabies is low.
I just am trying my hardest to keep reminding myself this!


If I may ask, snschoo, what helps you get through the day? I feel so broken.  :(
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Offline Katarzyna

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Re: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2013, 12:29:57 PM »
Going back and forth between relaxation and panic over this all morning.

Just reminding myself that thousands of these bats fly around my students every day and no one has come down with rabies is making myself feel better.
The fact that I haven't had a fever makes me feel better.

However, whenever my muscles ache and my throat hurts, or I sneeze, it puts me into a panic.

Ugh.
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Offline Katarzyna

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Re: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2013, 08:47:15 AM »
No rabies fearers here? I thought there were a bunch of us!

I'm in need of some support, even though I've been doing a little better about this over the past 24-ish hours.


I keep on replaying in my head that I would have remembered if the damn bat hit me. Then I remember that one of the symptoms is tingling in the area where the animal contact happened, and then I remember that I've been getting pins and needles feelings in my hands, especially in right hand (where if there was contact, that would be where).

At the same time, I have been getting notable pins and needles in my both of my hands/arms ever since the beginning of October, which is almost 2 months ago. That's the only thing that's keeping me sane.

I haven't had a fever at all, I haven't had a sore throat (only difficulty swallowing which is leading me to believe its psychosomatic), and I've had bouts of anxiety that come and go about it.

I'm still worried sick.

Someone, please tell me I'm being completely irrational!

I keep on imagining that the "REAL" symptoms have started in the past few days, and that I'm going to be a goner any day now.

Gosh.
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Offline snschoo

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Re: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2013, 09:04:49 AM »
The "pins and needles" sensation is a completely normal reaction to anxiety.  While it is true that sometimes people notice a burning, itching, tingling sensation at the site of their bite, you need to remember that you are completely keyed up right now and are just experiencing your body's reaction to your stress.  We're currently stuck in the "fight or flight" mode of our body's reaction to perceived danger, and you will feel tingling, muscle spasms, muscle aches, joint pains, etc etc in response to your anxiety.
Whenever I made my numerous trips to the ER after panicking about having rabies, I was having sharp shooting pains throughout my body, constant muscle spasms, and tingling all over my body.  All three doctors that I saw assured me that it was just my body's way of dealing with the anxiety I was putting myself through.
I know it's really hard to accept, because I myself am struggling with embracing the idea I'm not incubating rabies, but you absolutely need to try to be rational with your fears.  If you feed into it, I promise you it just gets worse.  Some things I do when I'm having a really bad day (seriously, my left arm where I felt the pinpricks has been tingling/burning/spasming for the past week and a half) I do google, but I type in my symptoms and follow it up with 'anxiety'.  I think you'll find that it's a source of reassurance to find numerous entries of people experiencing the same things you are that you think are a sign of rabies by realizing that they're having all of these symptoms from their anxiety.  Another thing to do is stay busy.  If you enjoy reading, read a book, if you like to watch tv, find a show that you're into and watch it, if you're into exercising, go for a run.  If you don't let yourself sit around and dwell on your symptoms, they're often a lot easier to deal with when you aren't thinking about them.
The typical rabies incubation is 20-90 days, so if your run in with bats happened 2 months ago, you're almost completely in the clear.  However, the incubation time for bites on hands, neck and face is more like 14-60 days (being so close to the brain really runs down the time), so that being the case (I believe you mentioned your arm being the place of concern for you), I would absolutely think that you would be showing much more severe symptoms by now in comparison to what you state you're experiencing.
As for the difficulty swallowing water, I wouldn't be concerned about that either.  While it's not as common, anxiety can cause you to suffer from a sore throat.  I myself have been experiencing that as well.  It has a lot to do with hyperventilating (which you can actually be doing without even realizing it).  If you had actually contracted rabies, it would be nearly impossible for you to swallow water, as your throat would be in constant spasms.
I know it's hard to deal with, because as I stated, I myself am currently struggling with the idea that I have contracted the rabies virus, but all you can do is take it a day at a time.  I really, really, really don't think that there's any possibility that you've contracted rabies, but I know that it's a lot harder to get over than just having someone say to you "Hey, you don't have rabies, so calm down".  My best advice to you is to keep yourself busy and try not to focus so much on your symptoms, because like I said above, when you focus they just become much more noticeable and you again throw yourself into a panic, just making a continuous loop of anxiety-symptoms-anxiety-more symptoms.  If you feel that it would help you, I'd suggest talking to a therapist.  While I know you said this is your first experience suffering from HA (as it is mine), sometimes it helps to talk about what you're experiencing to a third party that's trained to deal with this type of thing.  Just keep your head up, and like I said, try to stay busy, and if you do absolutely feel the need to google, DON'T LOOK UP RABIES SYMPTOMS, and always follow your symptoms up with 'anxiety'.  You're going to be okay, it's just a matter of getting yourself to believe that so that your body can finally calm down and let your symptoms subside.
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Offline Katarzyna

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Re: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2013, 10:13:46 AM »
It is pretty reassuring to hear form someone who is going through the same thing as me.  Because it makes me feel crazy, people don't really understand the fear.

I know that all of my symptoms can be explained by anxiety (including the "difficulty" swallowing - which I have a feeling is purely psychosomatic any way), but it's still hard to get that into my head.
It's reassuring that I haven't had a fever/sore throat/any flu-like symptoms (except for sore muscles - but that can be from traveling).
And none of the symptoms have gotten worse.

I don't know, man. Why can't we get this ***** out of our heads?


I need some help. Before I go back to China, I'm going to ask to see a therapist (I'm going in for blood tests at my family doctor tomorrow, I'm going to tell her my concerns).
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Offline Katarzyna

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Re: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2013, 07:31:18 AM »
Still here, still concerned (although trying not to be).

I had a bad headache (maybe even migraine) yesterday (woke up with it), and maybe even woke up with it a bit today as well.

My throat has been very tight and what seems to feel like little spasms (although that could just be a lump in the throat feeling).

I cant deal with this any more!

 :(
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Offline Stressed Jumper

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Re: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2013, 08:13:06 AM »
It is a good thing you are going to see the doc today.  The blood tests should help lay your fears to rest and you may want to discuss the possibility of meds for your anxiety as well so this does not happen again.  Try to relax (deep breathing helps me, so do distractions like playing a silly game on my phone) and hang in there.
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Offline Katarzyna

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Re: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2013, 09:59:45 AM »
Ah! Guys, I was doing so, so well the past couple days with this fear! (Even though that headache still hasn't gone away) I even went to the store to get some anxiety self-help books the other day.

Now, of course, I come down with flu-like symptoms.

I have swollen lymph nodes on my neck right under my jaw (the left side is a bit more swollen). I don't really have throat pain though. I have a leaky/stuffed nose and plugged up ears and I just feel like ***** in general.


In the back of my mind I am saying to myself that it's cold/flu season, everything will be okay, everything will be okay...

But the rest of my head is saying: "this is the beginning of the end."

I'm so scared.

Ah!
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Offline skim50

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Re: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2013, 12:20:56 PM »
Do you still think you have rabies? Because you don't.. You wouldn't have modest symptoms like what you said above, you would have serious flu like symptoms, and by now, you would have extreme neurological symptoms.. You would be in the hospital by now also. People who get rabies usually die in 2, 3 weeks max.
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Offline andy1987

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Re: Expat living in China sent home by Hypochondria fears :(
« Reply #14 on: December 25, 2013, 07:44:05 AM »
Sorry to revive an old thread - and Merry Christmas everyone by the way.

I am currently going through almost exactly the same thing here.

I am getting tingling and throbbing coming from my left ankle - where I think I could have been exposed by rabies. It is intermittent and sometimes spreads to my other leg and sometimes to my arms. No other symptoms - no fever, sickness, vomiting etc. It's been happening for 12 days now. Sometimes I get the feeling of bugs crawling on my legs when I feel really anxious

As I said in another thread, my chance of exposure was less than 1% although I was in a country that has a high prevalence of rabies (Thailand). And I am getting post exposure despite the low odds, mostly to ease my mind although it was done nearly 12 days after the potential exposure. My exposure - walking 5 minutes back to my accommodation with a open cut on my left ankle after a drunken night, in streets where I'd seen a few stray cats and one or two stray dogs during the day. I remember about 90% of the night - fairly sure no animals came up to me. The cut was caused by myself scratching myself in my sleep possibly because of bed bugs.

I keep trying to tell myself that the tingling/throbbing is anxiety which it most likely is. But part of me thinks it could be symptoms as well - I mean how coincidental is it that it started on the leg where I thought I could have been exposed? Can the mind really do that? I mean, I was constantly thinking about the cut on that leg and the exposure for several weeks.

I almost at the month mark now from that night where I thought I could have been exposed. I think if I can make it two months without these "symptoms" developing, I will begin to ease off.

Reading threads like these has helped a lot to ease my fears slightly.
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