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Author Topic: Elevated White Blood Count of 12.1k; fear worst. How to Accept just infection?  (Read 8494 times)

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Offline AnxietyGuy

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So, I had a routine physical and I feel fine. Blood tests showed a slightly elevated white blood count of 12.1 (range is like 4-11). I panicked and paid online on a Doctor website and asked TWO doctors at about $20 and they both said likely infection.

I asked my own family physician and he said infection. I even said leukemia and he said 'ranges we see with leukemia are 25-35k'.

I'm tempted to ask for more tests, but I've been told by three doctors it's likely due to infection. I had a burn on my arm that was healing, maybe that caused it.

I read the posted thread 'accepting the diagnosis'. What's your recommendation to me everyone? How do I 'LET THIS GO' sort to speak and live my life without constant googling and living in fear. I go back in a month to see if my red throat and nose go away (allergies likely).

Tips? I don't want to bug the doctor and reassurance seek.
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Offline vardnas

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I'm tempted to ask for more tests, but I've been told by three doctors it's likely due to infection. I had a burn on my arm that was healing, maybe that caused it.

I read the posted thread 'accepting the diagnosis'. What's your recommendation to me everyone? How do I 'LET THIS GO' sort to speak and live my life without constant googling and living in fear. I go back in a month to see if my red throat and nose go away (allergies likely).

Tips? I don't want to bug the doctor and reassurance seek.

AnxietyGuy,

You've got a pretty good grasp, I think, of what will help you or not help you right now. The immune system absolutely has to work harder to take care of burn wounds. But accepting the fact that it's a simple infection and not something more serious ... that's difficult, and it's not an automatic thing, but you can do it.

Look at it this way:  THREE doctors have already they think you're fine. Do you REALLY think another trip to the doctor is going to make you feel better or reduce your fear? Of course it's not. You ask how you not google and obsess? Well, you CHOOSE not to, but it's extremely difficult to just quit cold turkey or think you can just muster up enough will power to not be afraid. It doesn't work that way.

If googling and seeking reassurance and running to the doctor are all NEGATIVE reinforcement behaviors, then logic would dictate that as you stop engaging in these behaviors, you need to replace them with POSITIVE reinforcement behaviors. This takes a while to learn, but there are a variety of things you can start to do to help yourself down that path. Have you sought the help of a counselor or therapist? CBT is helpful, as is practice distraction techniques when you start to feel anxious. Exercise, meditation, deep breathing—all of these help to take the edge off. But really, you're not going to start to get out from under this until you get to the root cause for what's causing you to fixate on your health.

In the here and now, don't do anything as it relates to your WBC count. Don't go to the doctor, don't PAY MONEY for online services to find answers, try not to google. Just wait until you go back in a month and see what happens. In the meantime, try seeking out some help for your anxiety.
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In case anyone is still confused:  googling your symptoms will cause you to remain in a state of extreme anxiety. Stepping away from the internet is the first step toward lasting peace.

Offline AnxietyGuy

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That's a great post Vardnas, I thank you. He doesn't even plan to retest the blood work as he said it's likely infection and 12.1 is just slightly elevated anyhow. I read on here somewhere to let the Doctors lead me, and not lead the doctors; in other words, don't ask for tests unless he wants them.

Accepting that it's just an infection with the 12.1 and higher percentage of neutrophils and lower lymphocytes is really hard for me. I always catastrophize things.

What are the distraction techniques you mention? When I start worrying, how do I turn my brain towards something positive?
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Offline vardnas

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I find it best, when I start to worry, to get up and do something. Disengage with the computer and do something like go for a walk, or do some chores, or if you're at work, take a walk to the bathroom or chat with a coworker. Hobbies that involve both the body and the mind are helpful—so cooking, gardening, doing puzzles, painting/drawing, these kinds of thing—anything that distracts the mind long enough so that you don't fall down the rabbit hole of googling. This isn't an exact science or anything, and it doesn't mean you'll feel amazing or that the anxiety won't be there, but it should help you from panicking and running to the internet.

I had one therapist tell me that when I started to get scared, to think about a time in my life that was exciting or I had the chance to do something cool/out of the ordinary. So, for instance, I'd think about a trip I took or a time I had some personal or professional achievement, etc.

Remember, the anxiety you're feeling is just the body's NORMAL reaction to stress. We don't help it by catastrophizing, and we certainly don't help it with the negative reinforcement behaviors. So it will take you quite a while (it was months for me) of doing all the "right things" to really feel better, because those stress hormones that are so high in your body need to be brought back down to normal levels. But, it can be done, as I and others on the AZ can attest.
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In case anyone is still confused:  googling your symptoms will cause you to remain in a state of extreme anxiety. Stepping away from the internet is the first step toward lasting peace.

Offline AnxietyGuy

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Wow, great idea about thinking of happy moments or something to redirect the mind. I do CBT, but my therapist uses a lot of exposure therapy that doesn't work for me too well.

He explained something well to me about this situation though, he said with OCD and Health Anxiety we take the .00000001 percent chance and go 'well, there's still a chance'. Instead of taking it rationally that 3 doctors, 2 online, and 1 in person all told me that it was likely just an infection. My Doctor told me that when he see's leukemia it's like 25k-35k, not 1 over the reference range.

Another doctor online said that the range is only good for 2/3 of people, which I think she meant that 12 might be my high/ normal range anyhow. My doctor gave me antibiotics because he said my nose is red and throat shows irritation and I had some congestion. He had little concern over a slightly elevated WBC.

You're right about Google. We can find what we want to find when we try, then it makes our fears worse. I'll try the redirecting.

Health Anxiety is an odd thing. When I read other people's post on here I understand where they are coming from, but realize for them that the health issue they're worrying about is really not remotely likely. I'm sure some of you are reading mine and thinking the same thing, that I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill.
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Offline judi957

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I had the same thing happen to me in December.  I had a slightly elevated whte blood count from my yearly CBC from gastro doctor.  I think it was 12.3.  Doctor said it was an infection somewhere-something as simple as an allergy. I know I have allergies so didn't think another thing about it.  A month later, I had another CBC done for another doctor who was checking my lipids, but ordered a CBC again but not at my wanting it.   Guess what.  The white blood count was back to normal.   :yes:  So, yours is probably just from the burn on your arm.  Those white blood cells have to work to make you better.   Take a deep breath.  You are fine.
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Offline vardnas

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Health Anxiety is an odd thing. When I read other people's post on here I understand where they are coming from, but realize for them that the health issue they're worrying about is really not remotely likely. I'm sure some of you are reading mine and thinking the same thing, that I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Yes, it's ALWAYS like that. That's why people will be so helpful in their replies to others, but their own posts are panicky and irrational. Go figure.

I think you've got a really good logical grasp on what's going on and I feel confident for you that you'll find your way out from under the scepter of anxiety. If CBT doesn't work for you, try something different. Talk therapy really worked well for me. I hear self-help books can also be beneficial. Are you active at all? Exercise is a BIG stress reliever.
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In case anyone is still confused:  googling your symptoms will cause you to remain in a state of extreme anxiety. Stepping away from the internet is the first step toward lasting peace.

Offline dancer67

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My WBC is always elevated. Runs between 11.1-13.5. It freaked me out of course because it kept coming back high and I knew I wasn't sick. My hematologist told me it was because I was a smoker. I also asked him if I had leukemia, and he said no way(He is also an oncologist), that your WBC is usually 25 or above. I have had elevated WBC's for almost 4 years and I am still here.
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Offline mel4962

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Hi there, neutrophils are usually elevated in bacterial infections or from anxiety, stress, or exersice.  if your heart was beating fast at the dr before the blood draw this can artificially inflate the number of circulating neutrophils in the blood stream which in return will raise your total wbc.  i also have an elevated wbc between 11 and 14 as well.  i was sent to a hemotologist, and he tested me for leukemia and all sorts of other things. i had so many crazy blood tests...a FISH test, brcbar chromosomal test, LAP score test, c reactive protein test, and perepheral smear.....  all tests came back normal. thank the lord.  he said it is almost certainly from being anxious during the blood draw and from smoking.  he also said some people just have a :normal: higher blood count. 
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Offline AnxietyGuy

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My WBC is always elevated. Runs between 11.1-13.5. It freaked me out of course because it kept coming back high and I knew I wasn't sick. My hematologist told me it was because I was a smoker. I also asked him if I had leukemia, and he said no way(He is also an oncologist), that your WBC is usually 25 or above. I have had elevated WBC's for almost 4 years and I am still here.

You were referred to a Hematologist for such a low WBC? My Doctor doesn't seem at all concerned about my WBC, prescribed me antibiotics in fact.

Also, he did test my C-Reactive Protein as the OP mentioned and that was perfect. I guess I shouldn't freak out over this... sounds like my high neutrophils and elvated 12.1 blood coun't isn't leukemia ranges.
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