Hi, my name is John. I’ll share my story…more for my benefit that anybody else’s, but please feel free to read this huge novel if you feel up to it.
Several years ago I had issues with health anxiety that I managed to resolve on my own. A complete change of life including a move to another country helped me get over my issues and I thought I had everything under control.
Unfortunately, three weeks ago I made one little Google search and things have gone downhill very rapidly.
As I was walking home from work one day I felt my salivary glands swell up and started producing quite a bit of saliva in my mouth. This was a very new sensation for me and once home I couldn’t help myself: I ran a search for excess saliva and found a list of potential ailments. As we do, I picked out the worst one I had heard of: Rabies.
Ah, good old Rabies. 99% fatal once symptoms appear. That’s a great illness to worry about. I started checking off the symptoms, ignoring those I didn’t have and focusing like a laser beam on those I did. Did you know anxiety and insomnia are symptoms of rabies? Brilliant. I spent the entire night unable to sleep because I was worried about rabies, because symptoms include being worried and being unable to sleep. It was an awful loop. As tiredness set in I let the fear take hold, and my insomnia became more serious.
I started thinking through how I could’ve caught rabies. When nothing made sense (a dog bit me once, but he is still alive now), I remembered I live in area with an active bat population and decided one must have bitten me without my knowledge…or something. I started getting pins and needles, twitchy muscles, hot flashes, burning skin…the standard neurological symptoms anxiety brings on and that are shared with rabies: a nerve-attacking virus.
The hospital visits started. I now live in a country where healthcare is cheap and open for whatever you want to pay for. CT, MRI, EMG, X-Rays, Bloodwork…everything clean. But that didn’t matter because rabies is very difficult to detect. I took my results to other doctors but nobody would entertain the notion that I had the virus, “Where’s your fever? Headache? Nausea? Spasms?” they all asked. It didn’t matter, I’d already spent several nights reading everything about rabies on the internet and had come across several case studies of atypical rabies. I figured I was one of those.
I got diagnosed with anxiety and given buspirone and zopiclone to help me sleep. The sleep came and helped, but I was still convinced I’d be dead within a week and started spending more time with my wife and son, believing I wouldn’t make it to my son’s third birthday (four days ago).
I did make it (of course!), and my sleep is now somewhat under control without medication, but my health anxiety certainly isn’t. I started exercising, which has helped somewhat, but now all my muscles ache which I’ve turned into a new symptom. I wake up every morning feeling tired and lightheaded…still checking up on rabies, creating some fictional atypical variant of the virus in my mind that would still allow me to be alive at this point. Maybe I have an amazing immune system that makes the virus take longer, or maybe I just noticed the silent incubation phase and the real symptoms have only just begun?
Every time I feel a gust of wind, take a sip of water, or get angry because my son did something wrong I find myself second-guessing my body’s reactions, waiting for one of the telltale rabies signs to show. Was I scared of that wind? Was that water easy to swallow? Am I become irritable and aggressive?
I feel awful, and the worst part is, as my fiction becomes less and less possible with each passing day, I’m not calling myself an idiot, but deciding I misdiagnosed myself. Thyroid cancer is coming up on the radar pretty fast. My wife is supporting me as best she can, but has lost her patience and temper a few times. My complaints about new symptoms are daily. My anxiety is bordering on depression.
I don’t really have any questions as yet, I just needed to write this all down, get it off my chest and share it somewhere. If anybody made it this far, thanks for reading. If not, I feel better for having written it down anyway. I don’t think I can fix this by myself this time, so will be coming here for some support when I need it. Thanks.