Hypochondriac, Heal Thyself

When I wrote the “don’t ask me for help” post a couple days ago, about my inability to ask for help, I was thinking, in part, of my current resistance to making a doctor’s appointment (which was pissing off my friends). I’ve been dealing with a variety of random seemingly-disconnected problems for a long while now. Some of been cropping up in the last year or so, but some have been lingering discomforts for a decade or so. I never go to the doctor for them most of the time.

I resist for a number of reasons:

1) I realize that odds aches and pains and headaches are an unfortunately common side-effect of depression, which manifests itself in all kinds of weird physical ways (and I really don’t need someone telling me it’s all in my head);

2) it is very difficult to decide when a bunch of disparate issues, most of which could probably be explained away by “common” things such as depression, allergies, etc., are in fact all connected symptoms for something bigger/less common;

3) I have a very bad habit of getting online and webmd-ing (as we all do) all my little and not-so-little problems and coming to the conclusion that I have some weird genetic disorder or I’m dying — I then, of course, tell myself I’m being a paranoid hypochondriac, spend a couple days stewing about it without telling anyone, and then forgetting about it and moving on;

4) my mother has a bad habit of dismissing all but the most serious of my complaints with an indictment of being melodramatic;

5) I have therefore often wondered and told myself that this kind of discomfort MUST be common: everyone has little aches and pains that haunt them constantly, no one was totally comfort and pain-free throughout the day, right? (a couple of my friends have informed me that, to their knowledge, no this is not in fact true) — besides which, frankly, some days are fairly mild but other days I am in severe unmanageable pain, and I cannot remember a single day in ten years I have been completely pain-free.

My ridiculous laundry list of complaints includes: constant neck-pain (and I am not exaggerating, I mean 24/7/52 constant); joint pain in hips, knees, elbows, wrists/hands, ankles/feet (starting with my knees a decade ago and getting steadily worse since then); frequent and consistent moderate-to-severe headaches (some but not all may be sinus/allergy headaches; some are downright crippling); nearly-constant GERD/heartburn problems; back pain; increasing muscle-weakness in my hands; constant and severe fatigue/exhaustion no matter how much I sleep (I’m not talking being a little tired because work is difficult, I mean NO MATTER WHAT I DO or don’t do, I am ALWAYS ready-to-pass-out exhausted); and in the last week several lymph nodes have become swollen and painful (often a sign of the flu or other viral infection, but I have no flu symptoms).

It is the last most recent symptom that is now prompting some concern. I’m pretty damn sure depression-induced pains can’t cause swollen lymph nodes. That seems like a distinctly physical reaction.

In another fit of paranoia, I spent Tuesday night googling symptoms. A handful of things kind of fit, but I’m afraid to say what they are here (or to my friends) out of embarrassment and fear that I am in fact just being a paranoid hypochondriac. I probably am. Most of me keeps telling my brain to shut up. And yet… I hurt ALL THE TIME.

After stressing about it for a couple days, I have finally caved in and made a doctor’s appointment. I’m probably still just being paranoid, and I’m going to feel patently ridiculous if/when the doctor nods and tells me it is in fact all my head (I’m pretty sure my doctor will be kind enough to wait until I’ve left before he bursts out laughing, at least). I keep wanting to chicken-out and call the doctor’s office back to cancel my appointment. The only thing keeping me from doing that was because the doctor requires a yearly follow-up on my depression meds (which I’ve been putting off for over a month), so I have to go in eventually anyway. But, damn it all, I know I’m probably just letting my latent hypochondriac tendencies get the better of me. I’ve never given in before. I don’t know why I am now. Still… the appointment has been made (for next tuesday, if anyone cares). So… I guess we’ll see.

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