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Author Topic: Ongoing health anxiety  (Read 120 times)

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Offline KaceyAndy

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Ongoing health anxiety
« on: June 02, 2014, 11:02:10 AM »
Hello!  I have been a member of this forum for awhile now but have never posted.

Although I have probably always been a worrier, my health anxiety started in October 2012 when I went to the hospital with lower left abdominal pain.  They ran a CT scan which indicated I might have diverticulitis but also a problem with my gallbladder, either stones or possibly cancer.  I had never had a symptom indicating a gallbladder problem before nor had I even heard of gall bladder cancer.  The ER released me and said to see a GI doctor.  Over the next week, I completely flipped out.  I spent all my time researching this and was convinced I had this cancer.  I even started feeling like a golf ball was shoved up under my right ribcage where the gallbladder is.  I couldn't eat and lost 10 pounds.  When I got to the Dr, he said it is most likely stones and they would do an u/s in 4 weeks to see what was going on.  I felt better but was not convinced. The nagging feeling in my right side continued and sometimes even hurt a little.  The u/s showed my gallbladder as normal with some stones and I again was relieved but the "pain" continued.  Finally, in December, my GI sent me to a surgeon, and I had my gallbladder out.  The golf ball feeling was gone and the surgeon said there had been lots of stones but pathology showed no cancer.

Over then next few months I had some other minor health issues that I was probably worrying about but it was in April 2013 that the golf ball came back.  My first thought was, did I grow a new gall bladder?  My second thought was they missed something in the surgery and now I had a tumor!  The feeling did not abate so I went to the Dr. in June and she did an MRI which was clear.  She said my body could still be adjusting from the surgery or possibly it was adhesions or scar tissue. The very next day, the golf ball was gone! I was relieved and also stunned that my health anxiety could cause me to feel such a real sensation and even wondered if my whole ordeal the fall before had been real or manufactured by my mind.

Then, out of the blue, in late Sept. 2013, the golf ball was back, and has been with me off and on ever since.  I have tried to ignore it but it just won't go away and I cannot believe that it is a figment of my imagination, though the minute I start thinking about it, it gets worse.  I have been in counseling for health anxiety and GAD since September and really thought I was getting better but this is starting to drive me crazy and is raising my anxiety level which I had managed to wrestle down to a manageable level.  I would feel completely silly going back to the Dr about this as my rational mind says that it is nothing, but I also feel that my health radar is completely screwed up and I wouldn't know if something was really wrong with me or not!

Anyway, that is my story - thanks for listening!
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Offline Toasted Butter

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Re: Ongoing health anxiety
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2014, 01:18:07 PM »
It sounds like you had a traumatic experience and now you are hyper-vigilant about it recurring. Anything which feels similar to your original experience will be processed by your brain as a threat, and it will cause your body to respond as though it is experiencing the original experience all over again. The golf-ball feeling was probably more about your anxiety to begin with, so it's no wonder that you are feeling it again and again. 

Consider this: You felt no symptoms in that area until AFTER you started worrying about gall bladder cancer, and that's when you felt the golf-ball feeling. This is because your body started tightening up in that area in a protective response, sort of like when someone goes to tickle you and your muscles tense up in that area. Now you are worried about it again, and you get the same feeling again, and it's no wonder. You not only don't have gall bladder cancer, but you don't even have a gall bladder anymore! And you even had an ultrasound which proves there is nothing there. This won't stop until you get your anxiety under control.
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Offline KaceyAndy

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Re: Ongoing health anxiety
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2014, 02:25:07 PM »
Thank you for your thoughtful post.  I agree with you totally!  It is just incredibly frustrating to me that I have put months of work and therapy into dealing with my anxiety, and was succeeding, I thought, but I still am dealing with the pain in my side which then is what starts up the "what ifs" in my mind. 
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