Before I started suffering with HA, I never got sick. The worst I ever had was the flu or strep throat and I was never worried about cancer or any other horrible disease.
And then one day I shaved my head. At first nothing seemed wrong, but a coworker did a double-take and looked horrified at what he saw. On my head was a flat discolored growth, the size of a dime. It felt a little raised but nothing seemed out of place and I wasn't scared at the time. It was when he mentioned it could be melanoma that I began to worry, but still my HA was in its infancy.
A few days later, after trying to scratch it off it became large and round and felt like a small marble. I started to get angry, not at myself, but at my job, because I believed I had caught some form of infection from the dirty materials I work with. But I ignored the issue, merely monitoring the lump.
During this time it remained roundish and painful, sometimes bleeding because of how much I scratched it. In my head, if I scratched hard enough it would come off like a scab. After all I wanted to BELIEVE is was just a scab.
After 3 months of living with the lump I started having anxiety attacks. They happened usually when I was alone, driving to and from work. I started to think that because this lump hadn't gone away it must be something horrible. Yet I didn't have it looked at because I wanted to give it more time to go away on its own.
After almost a year of having the lump I went to a dermatologist and long story short: it was a benign discolored spot.
Living with that fear for a year certainly messed me up emotionally. After the benign diagnosis my anxiety has targeted my lymph nodes. After an unrelated doctors visit after the lump era, a doctor mentioned I had slightly swollen lymph nodes with a fever and sore throat. I began aggressively poking the nodes in my neck to the point of obsession. When I was working I would have to feel my nodes every few seconds. I would tell myself they wouldn't change size that quick, but they would hurt if I didn't check them.
About a week ago my fianceť mentioned she could feel nodes in her collarbone her entire life and the doctors said it was normal for her. I had never felt there and sure enough I found mine. A few days later my neck and nodes there became sore. I went to the doctor who commented they were normal size and "if you go digging for things in your body youre going to find something".
I guess I'm lucky because I know my anxiety is what causes this pain. But still there are times where the pain becomes so intense I run to the doctor, with the manic belief that I have some cancer. Today for example, my mind told me because Ive had a few breathing problems(most likely anxiety related) and the painful node areas that I could have lung cancer, regardless of the doctor telling me they were normal. It doesn't help I got emotionally involved with Breaking Bad ;)
But I joined the board today to talk about my problem and reading about others who have this scary obsession about our health IS comforting.
Will I go to the doctor again out of fear? Probably. But we're all making that first step on our road to recovery by being here :) Thanks for reading.