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Author Topic: GI symptoms, googling your disease  (Read 174 times)

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Offline Tunnelvisionary

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GI symptoms, googling your disease
« on: June 28, 2014, 11:28:39 AM »
Hi everyone,

I am recovering from an eating disorder and OCD. It's been tough, but I feel things have been going good. Since I started a year ago, I had a few bumps on the way in regards to health problems but they have all fortunately turned out to be nothing.

I was in the hospital with cellulitis a few months ago, and since I got out, I started having a bloody stool. We tested for c diff and it was negative. Over the next few months, the only symptom I had was bloody stool so I figured it was hemorrhoids and tried not to worry. I know I'm a hypochondriac so I went with a more benign explanation, and stopped checking my stools obsessively. Things are going really well until my bowel habits start changing too, and I begin to have more symptoms.

I was tested again for c diff. Negative. But I was put on a course of flagyl, and I've seen lots of improvement. Everything was going great, but then... bloody stools started to come back towards the end of the course. Of course, the first thing I thought was that I don't have c diff, I have ulcerative colitis, I'm going to get extremely sick, need to have my colon removed, colon cancer, etc.

I told my doctor about this, he extended my course of flagyl for a few days, and is scheduling a colonoscopy. He said my CBC is fine, and he doesn't see any reason to worry about anything autoimmune. He assured me that there are multiple explanations for what is going on and that if it was serious, he would have mentioned it.

My health anxiety was getting the best of me, but I'm finally recognizing that I should trust my doctor. He has seen patients for decades and has a better reference of what a disease looks like and how to put my symptoms and lab results into context. I can google and make an A --> B connection, but that has frequently let me down in the past. I need to realize I do not know how to interpret lab results or what a serious illness looks like.

Also, does anyone else notice that google never really tells you that a symptom can be benign or a sign of something fairly benign? I have bloody diarrhea and it seems the only two options are an infection and ulcerative colitis/crohns disease. If my c diff tests are negative, my mind goes to the other diagnosis...that I have some sort of autoimmune disease.

I've looked at the statistics and the prevalence of the disease is like .2% or .4% ... My anxious mind wonders about the proportion who actually get diagnosed who have my symptoms though... i.e. how many people with bloody diarrhea get diagnosed with autoimmune disease? Are my chances higher than .2 or .4%?

Of course, we won't know anything until I get a colonoscopy, but fingers crossed that i'll be okay and can just focus on ED/OCD recovery!
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Anxiety disorders in a nutshell.

Anxiety/Uncertainty ---> Checking/Reassurance/Googling behaviors ---> Brief relief but fuels obsessiveness about disease.

Stop anxiety by stopping the checking/reassurance/googling! Tough at first, but stick with it.

Offline sixpack

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Re: GI symptoms, googling your disease
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2014, 02:51:09 PM »
i am not a doctor, naturally, so I cannot comment on prevalence of certain diseases.  But, actually knowing prevalence on this disease or that disease really does a HA person no good.  HA peeps can find  any chance to be enough to justify worrying.   :winking0008:  You know, it is the nature of the disorder.   :yes:

I am a H-U-G-E preacher of NOT googling symptoms or diseases, whether you are currently afraid of a particular disease or not.  Googling just plants those little seeds.  those seeds will take root at some point.  Additionally googling stuff never assures a person they are well.  Oh one may get a piece of assurance but with the HA mind, that won't be good enough and further research ensues and all hell breaks loose 9 times out of 10.  If you continue posting here, you will see posts all of the time saying things like "I googled.  Please talk me down"  ;*)   SO looking up diseases should be OFF of your to do list.   :P  .

A few other things that should be off of your to do list are:  No monitoring of bodily goings on, self-check/self-test,  seeking repeat reassurance from family/friends/internet/doctors.  AVOID "peace of mind" medical tests.  Certainly there are legitimate reasons to have medical tests and, thus, should be done.  However, around here, more often than not, med tests are done just reassurance or "peace of mind".  this sort of testing does not work.  You will see many, many people advocate such testing and you will see many folks having them.   Unfortunately, such tests accomplishes either:  1. person doubts test--it was done too early, it wasn't THE right test, or doc read it wrong, 2.  person accepts the test but soon thereafter or down the road a piece anew crop of symptoms, NOT covered  by the previous tests, appear and the person is a mess all over again.  Basically these are "reactive" behaviors.  Reactive behaviors only keep a mind/body amped up.  It keeps us in the vicious anxiety loop.  The fight/flight just diminish when it is constantly fed panic.

I like that you are accepting that you don't have the same (or even close to the same) knowledge or experience of MDs.  sometimes we have to let that bit of control (that bit we didn't have anyway.

Oh welcome aboard  :action-smiley-065:
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MOST anxiety happens at the subconscious level.  JUST because you don't feel consciously anxious or had a day or two of calm doesn't mean your mind & body are relaxed.  It can take months of reduced anxiety before a body goes back to a more non-reactive state. 

Offline Tunnelvisionary

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Re: GI symptoms, googling your disease
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2014, 05:04:01 PM »
Thanks for your reply sixpack!

I totally agree with you on every front. As part of my recovery process, i've had to learn to embrace uncertainty and learn not to check. I know every single time I google something, it is feeding the anxiety. I knew as I was googling that it wasn't going to help, but the temptation to find some reassurance and certainty that what I was going through was NOT the horrible disease I was worried about, but so many symptoms are nonspecific and google will never tell you that some ache or some tingling is not anything to worry about. Same with body checking. You want to be assured things aren't getting worse, but you can never tell, and spending so much time worrying about it is not useful at all.

So I'm resolving to stop the googling and body checking because it is not taking me anywhere. Thank you for your post, as it makes me really want to keep up my resolve to get over HA. It's just a loop with no end.
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Anxiety disorders in a nutshell.

Anxiety/Uncertainty ---> Checking/Reassurance/Googling behaviors ---> Brief relief but fuels obsessiveness about disease.

Stop anxiety by stopping the checking/reassurance/googling! Tough at first, but stick with it.

Online Lindsay2427

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Re: GI symptoms, googling your disease
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2014, 09:31:19 PM »
I'm 27 and started noticing bloody stools (blood streaks) when I was 25. I was obsessed with having colon cancer for 1.5 years. I suffer from extreme health anxiety and OCD. Well long story short I finally had a colonoscopy and I had 1 CM hyperplastic polyp in my sigmoid colon and internal hemmohoids from my 4 pregnancies. As I said my polyp was biopsied and was 100% benign but was very vascular and would sometimes bleed with hard stools. What is your bleeding like? Please don't google. I know that's hard with OCD but please stop. It does no good.
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Offline Tunnelvisionary

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Re: GI symptoms, googling your disease
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2014, 12:31:33 AM »
I'm hoping the bleeding is from hemmorhoids, but I don't feel any sort of pain. When I did stool tests, i'm pretty sure most of the blood was on the outside, I don't remember it being mixed in. I've had stools where the blood was mixed in, but I feel that I don't have those for the most part since being on flagyl. Anyway, I don't really know what is going on, but I'm not googling anything. I am in no state of mind to rationally interpret anything, especially since having OCD and subsequently HA. Difficult to tell, as I don't obsessively analyze what my stool is looking like anymore. Flagyl has helped a lot, but the bleeding that randomly started again is worrisome. But nothing I can do about it accept continue going about my day, until I have a colonoscopy scheduled by my doc.

I'm doing pretty well just trusting him when he says I shouldn't really be worried.
Bookmark and Share
Anxiety disorders in a nutshell.

Anxiety/Uncertainty ---> Checking/Reassurance/Googling behaviors ---> Brief relief but fuels obsessiveness about disease.

Stop anxiety by stopping the checking/reassurance/googling! Tough at first, but stick with it.

Offline Kmj023

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Re: GI symptoms, googling your disease
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2014, 01:47:28 AM »
My mom has bloody stools cause of a hemorrhoid. It's very common.

Yeah google is really what messed me up. I agree that google doesn't really explain stuff into detail. Like when it mentions things like trouble walking, that's not very detailed. It should be explained like the person is falling down or running into walls, anyone can have trouble walking. It can be from a pair of heels lol. It should be more detailed with exactly what symptoms it's talking about.

It also depends on what you search for. If you type in something you know you have such as me, sinus problems and allergies, but if you type in symptoms, of course it will pull up more bad stuff than good stuff. 

Most of the time we run to the internet looking for reassurance. An example for me is that I have a fear of a brain tumor that comes and goes. My sinuses is my real diagonises from my ent. But you add anxiety next to it, then the symptoms of the sinuses will lead to dangerous thinking and I
Go to internet and start trying to find reassurance by reading brain cancer stories to see exactly how these people were diagnosed. But some of them were misdiagnosed so that feeds my fear more. The internet does more harm
Than good.  I feel my anxiety rise and I say this has to stop so when I get the urge to google, I come here and read people's threads lol. Or I distract my mind with something else. And it does help. I'm ordering a book on amazon about health anxiety cause I'm new to dealing with health anxiety. At least this bad. Only my second time in over 15 years. And it sucks. I get stressed out cause  tired of worrying over a brain tumor when I know deep down it's stupid. Of course my symptoms are no fun and I have allergies that cause them and they are triggers to my anxiety. Then it's that cycle of dangerous thinking again and the what ifs. It's very frustrating and tough. Glad to see you are making progress though. :)
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"The only illness that we can't accept is hypochondria."

"Never Google, everyone will catch an invisible tumor!"

Online Lindsay2427

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Re: GI symptoms, googling your disease
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2014, 11:39:32 AM »
What is flagyl and why are you on it?
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Offline Tunnelvisionary

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Re: GI symptoms, googling your disease
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2014, 11:53:12 AM »
Kmj023: Mark Freeman has videos about overcoming OCD on YouTube that are short, simple, and easy to understand. The basic gist of his information is that anxiety disorders often stem from a fear of uncertainty, or a fear of not knowing.

Everyone goes through this, but those of us with anxiety disorders have bad coping behaviors for this fear. For example, with health anxiety, a fear comes up that makes you afraid you have some health issue, you REACT to it by compulsively thinking about it a lot, by constant body checking, by mental checking, googling your symptoms for reassurance, or talking to doctors/other people to reassure yourself. You feel better for a little while, but the kicker is that seeking this reassurance often triggers obsessiveness about the problem. Eventually you WILL doubt whatever reassured you initially, which is what makes OCD and HA so detrimental to life.  If left unabated, you will repeat the exact same steps as above, which does nothing to alleviate anxiety but just serves to trigger it more and more the longer and more often you engage in those reactive checking/reassurance behaviors.

Googling is very tempting because it offers us that chance of being assured that nothing is wrong. In this state of seeking reassurance, nothing except the perfect reassurance will work. Bloody diarrhea? Oh, it says that in ulcerative colitis, the symptoms are severe...so I don't have that. Check 2-3 other sources to confirm. One person said their ulcerative colitis started out very mildly. Oh no. My symptoms are mild. There is a chance I could have UC!! Then comes more googling in more of an attempt to seek reassurance, but you see more and more small pieces of info that could indicate that you have UC and then your anxiety blows up the symptoms more and more to make it feel like your case is actually more severe.

This all actually happened to me recently! Haha.

The way to break out of this cycle is to completely STOP those reactive behaviors. Don't switch them around, just STOP all of them. This will make your brain freak out for a long time...maybe even a few days. Your brain thinks these reassurance behaviors are necessary and helpful, when they are actually not, so stopping them will make your brain feel like you are going to get yourself killed if you don't seek reassurance. But if you remain steady in your resolve to just embrace the feelings uncertainty and anxiety and don't keep checking google, your doctor, your body, or asking peers, you will eventually overcome the anxiety loop and find yourself naturally more unafraid of your health issue as well as more accepting of things being out of your control in life.

This is all info I got from Mark Freeman's videos on YouTube, HIGHLY recommend anyone check it out. I feel like HA is a symptom of OCD or GAD and not a new disease in itself, so I feel like the advice applies to anyone going through this.

The important thing is to realize that the specific disease you are afraid of doesn't matter. What matters is tackling the underlying behaviors that promote the fears. The disease you are afraid of is a superficial symptom of anxiety. This advice applies no matter what disease you are afraid of, because you are tackling a mental issue here, not a physical one. I've been on this forum a few days and it is so great that there is a space for us to chill out and realize that we don't have all the answers and we don't need to google anything, but I also see this place is being used as another place to seek reassurance that we are not going through something terrible. Recognizing hypochondria is great, but steps need to be taken not to reinforce it too, even here. This isn't aimed at anyone in particular, just an observation.

I had been freaking myself out about my disease for the past few days, but I feel a lot calmer and a lot more able to adapt in case it turns out to be something bad. I do hope it is just benign hemorrhoids or something, but we will see!

Lindsay2427: I was in the hospital for cellulitis (skin infection) on my foot and was on antibiotics. They gave me an antibiotic that has a high risk of acquiring c diff colitis, which is another colon infection brought on by the bacteria c diff. I had been completely fine bowel wise prior to that hospital visit, but as soon as I left, spots of blood started to appear on my stool. They blood got worse over the next few months and so my doctor gave me flagyl because he suspected that my problem was c diff. It was working great for a week and a half, but then I got bloody stools again while still on it, so we'll see what happens.
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Anxiety disorders in a nutshell.

Anxiety/Uncertainty ---> Checking/Reassurance/Googling behaviors ---> Brief relief but fuels obsessiveness about disease.

Stop anxiety by stopping the checking/reassurance/googling! Tough at first, but stick with it.

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