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Author Topic: Neurological problems or grief / guilt?  (Read 276 times)

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Offline mmc

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Neurological problems or grief / guilt?
« on: December 03, 2013, 12:17:37 AM »
I'd like to apologize first of all for posting about my own problems without first contributing to other people's threads. I'm afraid I wouldn't have many happy or positive insights to offer at the moment. I'll be as brief as I can.

A little over two years ago my girlfriend died while backpacking in SE Asia. She was in her late twenties. Neither the local authorities or the US State Department were ever able to say how she died as no autopsy was performed. Without getting into details I believe she suffered a brain injury from a bad fall a few days before her death.

My reaction to the event was as you might expect. My grief was accompanied by powerful feelings of guilt. Had she not been in a relationship with me then the situation which led to her death would have been avoided. This feeling has not diminished with time.

I traveled to visit with her family and attend the memorial service. A little while after I returned home I noticed numbness in the tips of the fingers of both hands from time to time, primarily in the index and little fingers. It's not quite full numbness, rather a reduction in sensitivity, like wearing thin rubber gloves or dipping a fingertip in wax. I still experience this frequently. The most recent occurrence has lasted more than two weeks. Recently I've also felt tingling and a similar numbness in my left foot.

My eyes also twitch frequently, usually in stressful situations at work.

The most alarming symptom I've experienced is prolonged spasms in the muscles of my arms and legs. I've been able to watch as the muscles in my arms twitch of their own accord, for as long as twenty minutes at a time. That hasn't happened in some months thankfully. My legs do occasionally twitch when I'm falling asleep.

I moved to a different country for work around a year ago. Shortly before I left I was woken up by the feeling of buzzing in my chest, exactly like the vibration of a silently ringing mobile phone. That only happened once.

My hearing occasionally becomes distorted. From time to time I can only hear lower bass tones, as though I had my fingers in my ears. This is infrequent.

The most recent problem is a tenderness in the skin on my stomach. It feels raw like a rash or some other skin ailment is there, but there's no visible problem. This also comes and goes. The skin pain and hearing problems worry me the most because nothing I've read suggests anxiety could be the cause of those.

I went to a GP in the UK who reluctantly referred me to a neurologist. He gave me a fairly rudimentary sensitivity test on my hands and the soles of my feet and so on. He seemed satisfied from this that I was not in any danger of a neurological problem. The 'symptoms' have persisted however.

My life currently is good by any reasonable standard. I have a steady job and am in a healthy relationship. Despite this I feel incredibly tense and unhappy almost all the time. Any moment that isn't occupied by work or some other distraction invariably leads to quite a horrible feeling of depression. I've always been a worrier and have experienced depression to some extent since my mid-teens, but nothing ever as severe as this. Consequently I drink quite a bit. Not quite a harmful amount, but more than is healthy.

I've concluded there are three possibilities. The first, and worst, is that I'm showing the onset symptoms of a serious neurological problem like MS, ALS, Fibromyalgia or complications from untreated Lyme Disease. The second is that my problems are the fallout from long-term heavy use of Diphenhydramine as a sedative. The third is that I simply have not done enough to resolve the emotional problems that resulted from my girlfriend's death. This is the most optimistic possibility, strange as it sounds.

The health insurance in my current job won't stretch to exploratory MRIs or anything like it. The doctors I've seen have put me on short courses of mild benzodiazepines which haven't helped.

Thank you if you made it through all that. I suppose I was just hoping to see if there was anyone who had been through a similar situation or had the same physical problems.
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Offline kj94702

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Re: Neurological problems or grief / guilt?
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2013, 01:44:28 AM »
I have had all of your physical symptoms and more (both other things and more intense than you describe here). I do not have MS or ALS (these have been ruled out for me through the appropriate tests and doctor's exams). You do not have these particular problems either. What you do have, however, is a problem that you should seek help with. Many on this board will tell you that your physical symptoms are the results of long term anxiety acting on your central nervous symptoms. This is almost certainly part of the story. The other part of the story, in my opinion, is your emotional response to physical symptoms of the variety you are describing. Our anxiety leads us to interpret, dwell on and obsess about many benign sensations that are a quite normal part of life. In any event, you have been through a lot and it may be worth exploring solutions to your problems that don't involve MRI machines or self-medicating.
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Offline skim50

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Re: Neurological problems or grief / guilt?
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2013, 01:59:05 AM »
Sounds like anxiety. I have had similar symptoms during very bad periods of stress.
Neurological fears are the biggest fears amongst hypos, and the affects of stress, anxiety, and depression on the body closely mimic those of neurological disorders..

Here is a post I made last week when I went to my neurologist.

"I passed my strength test, reflex, and coordination test, and the symptoms that I told him I had didn't seem to concern him. Said symptoms of MS or serious neurological problems do not come and go through out the day, and last for weeks, or are permanent, and not just a few minutes.. Just like many of you guys told me. He said by everything hes gathered he is very doubtful that I have MS or any serious neurological disorder. Said anxiety can cause every symptom I have, because anxiety depletes vitamin reserves, and messes with your bodies P H. For the others who think they have MS or neurological problems, my symptoms are tingling, numbness, burning sensations, and muscle twitches.. I've also had days where I THOUGHT I was off balance and weak.... Obviously I was wrong.. But on the subject of muscle twitches, he said that they are not a  sign of early on MS, even ALS, and said that those come long after a person is diagnosed."

Stress can easily cause muscle twitches.. Everyone on here I am sure has complained of muscle twitches..

"I have just recently went through my MS scare.. Saw a neuro and had a battery of tests and turned out I was okay.. You really got to try and trust the doctors, they are the ones who went to medical school, not you.. The MRI is telling. There would be lesions if you had MS. My symptoms were.. buzzing of the feet, numbness, eye problems (visual snow), feeling off balance, perceived weakness, muscle twitches, joint pain, etc.. The neuro literally tested for MS, and every other autoimmune disorder, and lyme disease, and for diabetes, b12 deficiency, and it turned out not only did I not have anything (thank god) I was actually very healthy. You're healthy too. Once I accepted it was anxiety my symptoms have all but gone away. Best of luck. "

So yeah, you're looking most likely at the affects of chronic stress. And I am deeply sorry about your loss  :( hang in there.
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Offline mmc

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Re: Neurological problems or grief / guilt?
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2013, 06:09:41 PM »
Thankyou for your replies.

It's very reassuring that you say you've experienced all the symptoms I described kj94702. This includes the skin pain and the hearing problems? It would be a load off my mind if that were truly the case.

Recently the numbness has started to shift around. I've started experiencing it in the base of my fingers and even my forearms.

I'm trying to chalk this up to the stress of the holidays.

Thanks again.
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Offline kj94702

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Re: Neurological problems or grief / guilt?
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2013, 10:16:36 PM »
Hi MMC,
My skin sensations occur on my legs and feet, not my stomach....but I have them. I can't say I've noticed any hearing problems (although that will probably change now that you've mentioned it). More importantly (from your perspective), my symptoms have been longer lasting and more varied. Here is what I wrote a few weeks ago. It is just a taste of what I have been dealing with:

January 2012 - Today
Occasional migraines (approximately one a week). Very intense.

May 2012 - Today
Pain under lower ribs on left side (diagnosed as "gastritis" through endoscopy")

November 2012 - January 2013
Numb patch on left most of left foot. No tingling...just loss of sensation (not complete loss).

December 2012 - Today
Every three to four weeks, a single small patch of intermittent tingling in legs (both left and right at various points). The tingling patches follow a rhythm (tingling for two seconds, fade, disappear for four seconds, tingle....repeat).

December 2012 - Today
Months of feeling dizzy, lightheaded, floating and generally out of it.

December 2012 - Today
Extreme fatigue and leg pain after walking or running for more than 30 minutes.

January 2013 - Today
Muscle twitching. This is the "worms under skin" sensation. Happens in calves and now arms. The twitches are very visible and happen most days (when I sit down or go to bed).

February 2013 - Today
Once a month or so, I will wake up with a numb/swollen feeling on the side of my face. After adjusting my position, it goes away.

April 2013
Buzzing sensation in bottom of right foot (the "cell phone on vibrate" feeling.....every three seconds). This lasted for five days.

October 2013
Two weeks of neck soreness and lower back pain.

There are also things like burning skin sensations and fatigue that I did not mention here because they are such common occurrences.

I would caution you against worrying about things because you have not been able to find an anxiety-based explanation for them. HA works in two ways: (1) creates central nervous system symptoms (tingling, cramping, twitching, etc.) due to the constant stress you are under; (2) leads you to feel stress about benign and common physical sensations that occur independent of central nervous system function. Not to discount your seemingly ephemeral skin sensations and hearing problems but please realize that many people probably experience such things without noticing them and without worrying about them. You have anxiety. You view your physical sensations through the pessimistic lens of catastrophe. Not everyone else would do the same.

Know that you are fine and you will be.
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