Posted by: dmwilmoth on January 15, 2005
I have always been a bit of a worrier. I remember being a child and afraid of eating certain foods that looked weird to me (such as 2 M&Ms that were fused together) because I thought they were poison. Thinking about that now, I can't believe how silly it sounds. But then, it was completely real to me, and I was frightened all the time about dying. Throughout my teenage years, I don't recall having much fear or hypochondria. Maybe I was just too busy with life (boys, friends, etc) that nothing really stands out to me. I'm sure I had issues, but nothing like what I deal with today.
It all started in December 2000 when I found out I was pregnant. I was talking with my daughter's step-mother, who was also pregnant, who tells me how her morning sickness would come out of nowhere. So I immediately start to panic, thinking I would vomit in Wal-Mart, restaurants or driving down the road. I was petrified of going anywhere, and if I did, I would scope out the quickest route to the bathroom. (I ended up having a miscarriage in early January.)
In February 2001, I move to the country (not willingly). I couldn't stand being 20 miles from the nearest hospital. Then 9/11 happens. I made myself sick to my stomach thinking my husband would be drafted and leave me home all alone. That same week, my husband takes a midnight shift job, which scared me even more. I was terrified I would be burgled or become seriously ill in the middle of the night with no one to help me. I took to sleeping with nightlights, lamps, open window blinds (to let the streetlights shine in) and the TV on just to get through.
Then the beginning of the worst started. I read an article in People magazine in Spring 2002 about men who were in the Gulf War who ended up with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. They were explaining their first onset of symptoms, one of which were cramping fingers. Well, I was experiencing cramping fingers and hands. Instead of me saying I type too much or something like that, I immediately think I must have ALS. I went to the doctor and he told me I could have carpal tunnel and advised me to get those wrist/hand wraps when I type. Well, it didn't help, so he sent me to a neurologist to get a nerve study done. In the summertime, I had the study done and it was fine. But during this time I was starting to get some dizzy feelings (not real bad) and asked him if he dealt with that. He said yes. So now I'm worried I must have something wrong with my brain that is causing my fingers/hands to cramp, like MS. And suddenly my legs feel sort of weak and I would get muscle twitches all over. When the nerve study came back fine, doctor told me I don't have MS or ALS, I felt a little better and the symptoms (but not the dizziness) subsided.
Then in Dec 2002, I was in Minneapolis on a business trip alone and I had the worst panic attack I've ever had. Well, the first one, really. I actually went to the ER because I was so scared I was going to pass out/die and be all alone in Minneapolis. They told me it was anxiety and I flew home that night. I immediately made an appointment with my neurologist. He ordered an MRI and that came out normal. No aneurysms, tumors, lesions, etc. I was given Effexor for anxiety, but it did not work. Still had dizziness. Took it for a month, ending in February.
In March 2003, my dad has a stroke. The VERY NEXT DAY, I get my first chest pain feelings. Feelings continue for a week when the doctor decides he'll send me to a cardio to ease my fears. My cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes testing, thyroid and liver, etc all came back normal so he thought maybe a stress test will make me feel better. Had stress test done, as well as EKG and Echo in May 2003 and I passed "with flying colors". Told me he thought maybe the pain would go away since I now know it isn't my heart. No such luck!! Proceeded to have chest pain every day, or nearly every day. The dizziness was still around, so I went to a rheumatologist who did a urine test to see if there was a tumor on my adrenal glands. Nope. Went to an ENT to see if I had an inner ear problem. Nope. Went back to a regular doctor and he prescribed me Lexapro. This was late June 2003. Chest pain still prevalent, but no dizziness. I was actually rather calm. No real panic attacks to speak of during this time.
I stopped taking the meds in Feb 2004 to see if I was 'cured'. I felt great. Ended up going to an internist in April/May 2004 to see if my chest pain was stomach related. Had an endoscopy done with no problems noted except for enlarged entry of gallbladder. Gallbladder ultrasound was normal (no stones). Had a CRP-Protein blood test done to see if there is inflammation of the artery walls. I was listed as the lowest-risk. Then in August 2004 I started getting dizzy again and my panic about my heart started up again. I switched to a new cardiologist in Oct 2004. He was looking at the acid reflux angle, but said he'd do a CT scan for peace of mind. Got it in Dec and it was normal.
And now we are up to date. I can see the pattern of anxiety though. I would be afraid of something and I would end up getting symptoms, do a test and find out it is negative, then I would be fine. The only thing that has stuck with me is the chest pain b/c no one has seen my arteries and blockages, I want an angiogram! Isn't that ridiculous? Who in their right mind would want a catheter put in the freaking leg?! Me, me, me, that's who!!!
It is an everyday struggle for me, and even though it sounds like I'm not progressing, I'm really trying to. I have every hope of one day returning to my normal, healthy self. And being a member of this board has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. The support here is unparalleled, and it certainly makes one feel a part of a community.