Angelica Schuyler

I Don't Even Know Anymore

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Every time I deal with one symptom or set of, something new happens.

I struggled for months with colon cancer fear, and somehow got through it without begging for a colonoscopy

I had two panics about inflammatory breast cancer, which resulted in only one doctor visit and both suspect spots clearing up without further issue.

But now it's my heart and lungs and eight million other things.

I had an incident at work a couple weeks ago where my chest felt heavy while talking to a colleague. The pressure and kind-of-pain felt like it was on the inside of my body and it seemed to be radiating to or from my back. My breath felt like it was "catching." I made the mistake of checking Dr. Google to see if it was a heart attack, then went to the bathroom to try deep breathing. While there, I started tingling down my head and both arms, and I felt like I was going to pass out. I stumbled out of the stall and asked a colleague for help.

Long story short, I wound up at the ER where my EKG and blood work were all fine and I was told to lay off the caffeine.

Last week, I went to my cardiologist for my yearly follow-up appointment - I was on some medications in the past that could hurt my heart muscle - and my echocardiogram and EKG looked fine, as well as my blood pressure, which was high in the ER. 

But the pain/pressure in my back and chest continue to recur randomly,  I get the same "catching" of my breath,  and it feels like I'm full of gas that won't come up. It's hard to tell where this is coming from. Is it my heart? I know only an angiogram can definitively tell if there is a blockage. Is it my lungs? I had a nodule found on my abdominal CT in December that could be cancerous and growing, but my doctors don't want to expose me to more radiation.

Today, my right hand feels weak, especially around the wrist. Am I having a stroke? A clot? ALS? 

I'm just at a loss. I'm scared that something is wrong with me, but I can't afford to keep running to doctors all the time. I'm also tired of always being in crisis and never being able to relax. I'm in therapy, on meds, and trying to stay mindful, but this just NEVER GOES AWAY.

Thanks for listening. 

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Angela,

if it was heart related it would have been noticed or "something' would be off that would warrant further testing.  But it wasn't heart related.  The rest of your symptoms are classic anxiety:  tingling, can't catch your breath, chest pains which sound like either trapped gas, or more likely reflux which can hurt like the dickens. Extremities that "feel" weak, aren't weak in a disease sense.  All of this, made worse by stress and you are seemingly in a never ending loop of anxiety unfortunately.

As for the nodule, i don't know your history with that, but it makes sense that if the doctors thought it was something serious, they would test further. Why would they be afraid of exposing you to some additional radiation IF they thought you had something serious going on?;  That's called malpractice.  So I conclude that your doctor must not have been concerned or you'd be tested with something; CT, MRI, PET Scan, blood work, biopsy, anything.  But....you were not.

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I know what you are going through. The chest and back pressure, where you talking for a long time? When I talk for a long time, I’m not accustomed to it (i am a very quite person), I get this intense pressure in my chest that shoots to my back. I think it might be because I’m not breathing right.  Or when I have trapped air. And when that’s going on I shallow breath which causes the tingling down my arm, usually my left. And tingling in my head. Which is hyperventilating, right? And an EMT once told me it’s a thing that happens with hyperventilating, limbs tingle and also your lips suffer in this thing too. And i do get the thoughts is it heart attack?, clot?, respiratory attack?, and so on. I think we’d be gone by now if it were something more serious. Right? I’m working on accepting these symptoms, cause what more can we do? I know I’ve felt them before and deep down I know it’s anxiety, and anxiety brings me here. Talking about it and that has helped. But I’m now finally going to go back into therapy. In August. And hopefully, scratch that we have to keep positive right? Therapy WILL help me out even more. 

Youll get through this. Like a fellow member on here, Holls, has told me take it day by day. We will get through this! You have all the right tools going for you, and from what everyone on here tells me it takes time, and persistence. Push through and ride those symptoms out, the thoughts let them be and carry on. Tough sooooo tough. But persistence is the key. I have good days, they aren’t always bad. And that’s what I try to focus on. 

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Hello Angelica,

I'm sorry to hear you are going through so much. I know exactly what it feels like to be in that kind of state of mind. However, rest assured that the tingling, shortness of breath, and the dizziness are all classic anxiety symptoms. I've had them, and still get my fair share of it. I think it is quite normal to have some apprehension about one's health when you've had to deal with some real health problems. It tends to make us hyperaware about our health, which of course can trigger health anxiety. 

It is good that you are in therapy and taking meds for your anxiety. Just take it one day at a time, this is a long process. Remind yourself when you are having these symptoms that they are fuelled by your anxiety. You'll notice that as your anxiety diminishes, so will these symptoms. 

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Hi all, I am new here and so relieved to read your stories as painful as they are for you, they make me feel less alone. I am 51yo female who has had GAD/health anxiety for 26 years. I was well controlled w/celexa for many years. I was always anxious and worried, but not having anxiety attacks. I was then switched to effexor 9 months ago because, although not having anxiety attacks, I was worrying a lot more. In June, I decided i just didn't like how I felt and weaned off effexor. My doc wasn't happy about it, but wanted to know my baseline after 20+ years. I started having panic attacks again 2 weeks ago. My psychiatrist prescribed lexapro and I've been obsessing over side effects worked myself into full blown panic attack and my classic symptom is elevated heart rate, shortness of breath etc. My heart rate went into 130's, and since I'm a nurse I went straight for EKG which was normal except for rate. I took an Ativan when i came home and started Lexapro today. I'm so disappointed in myself. I speak to many people who say they have "anxiety" but has anyone ever experienced these elevations in heart rate? I worked myself up just waiting for the EKG, when the doc called to say it was normal and from anxiety, my heart rate immediately went to 90's. I just feel so alone. Any support would be appreciated. 

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5 hours ago, anxiouslisa said:

Hi all, I am new here and so relieved to read your stories as painful as they are for you, they make me feel less alone. I am 51yo female who has had GAD/health anxiety for 26 years. I was well controlled w/celexa for many years. I was always anxious and worried, but not having anxiety attacks. I was then switched to effexor 9 months ago because, although not having anxiety attacks, I was worrying a lot more. In June, I decided i just didn't like how I felt and weaned off effexor. My doc wasn't happy about it, but wanted to know my baseline after 20+ years. I started having panic attacks again 2 weeks ago. My psychiatrist prescribed lexapro and I've been obsessing over side effects worked myself into full blown panic attack and my classic symptom is elevated heart rate, shortness of breath etc. My heart rate went into 130's, and since I'm a nurse I went straight for EKG which was normal except for rate. I took an Ativan when i came home and started Lexapro today. I'm so disappointed in myself. I speak to many people who say they have "anxiety" but has anyone ever experienced these elevations in heart rate? I worked myself up just waiting for the EKG, when the doc called to say it was normal and from anxiety, my heart rate immediately went to 90's. I just feel so alone. Any support would be appreciated. 

I have had my heart monitored and it has fluctuated bad. I would go from 70-80s to the max while being monitored was 185. I had felt it way faster then that though, and that wasn’t caught on the machine. And I was told because I am fairly healthy that those fluctuations shouldn’t affect me. Even knowing that I just can’t wrap my head around it though, like how can that be okay? Meds although I know it’s helped many people, I don’t like the idea of them only because I tried it and it made me feel like a zombie, I had fluoxetine. And I was afraid of becoming addicted to Xanax or Ativan. And you will see that there’s a lot of people here that will be more then willing to hear you out, we understand that we sometimes just need someone who understands and can lend you some time :) I hope you start feeling better.

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Thank you for your response. It doesn't help that i'm a nurse and I pick apart everything looking for something to be wrong. I can't even go for lab work without my heart rate soaring. Are you like that as well? 

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30 minutes ago, anxiouslisa said:

Thank you for your response. It doesn't help that i'm a nurse and I pick apart everything looking for something to be wrong. I can't even go for lab work without my heart rate soaring. Are you like that as well? 

 

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I get anxious when I go for lab work. So I know how you feel.  This site is so helpful. Everyone helps everyone. When I get a new symptom I go directly to this site. It always soothes my nerves because I am not alone. It is the nature of the beast. But we will have victory over this beast someday. We just have to embrace that we have this issue and try not to worry. Hard by true.

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15 hours ago, anxiouslisa said:

Thank you for your response. It doesn't help that i'm a nurse and I pick apart everything looking for something to be wrong. I can't even go for lab work without my heart rate soaring. Are you like that as well? 

Honey, I can’t even think about stepping in a doctors office and my heart rate picks up. Even writing that made it go up. I’ve taken my kids to the doctors and I was sweating and having an attack. Your knowledge of knowing things in the medical field Im assuming makes you think “I wish I didn’t know the things I know”. 

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I just got to work and am having a panic attack. Don't even know how I drive here🙁 I started lexapro, this is day 3 and I heard it sometimes makes anxiety worse before better. 

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Hi, everyone.

I wanted to pop back in and thank everyone for their replies since I didn't do that earlier. Your empathy and encouragement have been helping me calm down during the past week.

My chest pain is now more of back pain - both shoulder blades, the top of my spine, the middle of my back. This week has been excruciating because nothing seems to work. I also just started on a new contract at work and we're understaffed, so there's been no way for me to take a day off, see a doctor, or even pop a muscle relaxer because I have to be at the top of my game.

But even though I'm here, I'm freaking out that the stupid lung nodule from my CT is turning into lung cancer. I had lymphoma as a teenager and I'm at high risk for lung problems due to chest radiation and chemo, plus my mom died of a combination of pulmonary diseases that included lung cancer nearly a year ago. My nodule is so small that even high risk patients like me don't need screening under the Fleischner protocol (yes, I looked up the freaking pulmonary nodule screening protocol because I am the biggest of the biggest hypochondriacs), and studies have shown that the vast majority of pulmonary nodules found in survivors of my cancer turn out to be absolutely nothing, but I still see myself in my mom's place, lingering in a hospital bed, waiting to die. 

I'm still getting some pressure in my chest. I feels like I can't take a whole breath in sometimes. I can get winded when I'm talking, and it's scary and strange because I'm used to talking constantly. That's when I wonder if there's a huge tumor blocking my airways, or if my heart can't get oxygenated blood into my system due to a blockage. 

I know none of these fears make sense. I have a severe anxiety problem. I've been under particularly large amount of stress over the past month due to changes in my job. I don't get enough exercise and my work chair sucks. There are a hundred and one more likely reasons that I feel this way. But I still see myself dying before my wedding, before starting a family, before I'm really happy, so I'm scared constantly.

Thank you all for being here for me and listening to me. I hope I can provide as much help to all of you as you have to me. 

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Angelica- my heart really goes out to you because I get the same way and I know how scary and self defeating those thoughts are. You are right, we have a million rational explainations for our symptoms ( the number 1 being stress and anxiety) but we focus on the what ifs. If I knew the magic answer to stop our health anxiety I would share it with the world, but for those of us who suffer all we can do is be there for each other, lend an ear and know that we will somehow get through this. I want to say be happy, focus on your wedding and your future, but I can't because I know that is impossible to do when worry and anxiety is all we can focus on. What I can say for sure, is you are not alone and I pray you get over this bout of worry. Always here to listen.

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I'm so sorry. A lot of your post sounds like what I do when I have anxiety. I start to really focus on one pain that's going on in my body.  Then even when I'm busy with work or stuff around the house It's always there in the back of my mind.... Mine is my leg.. I always think it feels weak.. funny thing though.. I have a new diff pain in my ovary pop up and guess what, my leg is strong and absolutely fine. I've been obsessed with my leg for over a yr. ( I'm an als worrier Bec once I got twitches, yep makes zero sense) 

I get sore a lot in the back of my neck and shoulder blade areas and sometimes it wraps around under my ribs.. I went to the e.r. over that pain and demanded a CT scan.. it is muscular.. I notice when I drive long distances I get it and long days in my desk chair I will get it. Standing up and cooking over the Stove for a long period does it too.. 

Hugs. I can see why you have health anxiety and I'm so sorry. I really believe you are healthy and you can let this fear go. 

 

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@anxiouslisa and @Holls, thank you for responding and being so reassuring. I came back here to read what you said after having an anxiety attack in Target and sobbing in my car, pleading with God not to let me die.

I know I am overreacting to what I am feeling, and that what I am feeling is linked to my anxiety. Certain postures and movements make the pain go away. It’s not serious if it’s not always there, right? But every time I feel that ache - in my back, in my chest - I see a huge tumor in the center of me, or an artery blocked, and I can’t let those images go.

I need to finish my errands and a big project for work tonight. I’m not sure how I’ll do it, but I’ll keep remembering your words, reminding me that I’m ok.

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4 minutes ago, Angelica Schuyler said:

@anxiouslisa and @Holls, thank you for responding and being so reassuring. I came back here to read what you said after having an anxiety attack in Target and sobbing in my car, pleading with God not to let me die.

I know I am overreacting to what I am feeling, and that what I am feeling is linked to my anxiety. Certain postures and movements make the pain go away. It’s not serious if it’s not always there, right? But every time I feel that ache - in my back, in my chest - I see a huge tumor in the center of me, or an artery blocked, and I can’t let those images go.

I need to finish my errands and a big project for work tonight. I’m not sure how I’ll do it, but I’ll keep remembering your words, reminding me that I’m ok.

You are ok. You have anxiety and your anxiety is telling you scary untrue things.. please know they aren't true. Hugs. You are ok. No to cancer, yes to anxiety

 

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I'm so sorry and yes you are ok! My therapist tells me remember truth not emotions. It's very hard for me to differentiate truth from emotion when I'm anxious. You are right though if the pain is intermittent and not worsening it's muscular. You'd have worsening symptoms by now if it were otherwise. Be strong and know we are here for you 

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The pain is there most of the time. But it jumps around: one shoulder blade, the other blade, middle of the back, center of the chest, slightly left, slightly right. Sitting certain ways can alleviate the pain for awhile. So can walking, and massage, and sometimes Xanax. The pain always comes back, but it can be stopped.

I feel like the pain wouldn’t seem so severe if I weren’t so scared. In my panic, it’s excruciating. My fiancé says my back muscles feel a mess. But I’m still checking my pulse oximeter, wondering if 97% oxygen is too low of a reading and checking my heart rate when I feel pounding or palpitations. 

Anxiety is stupid. It is stupid and it lies and it makes me fear dying so much that I have no time to live. I hate this.

Thank you again for listening to me, Holls and Lisa and everyone. I’m reciting everything you’re telling me: My emotions aren’t the truth. Yes to anxiety. No to cancer. My brain will suck this all in yet.

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Trying to keep it together today. Running on a tight deadline but my chest keeps aching and I feel like I'm going to throw up. So scared that I'm dying. I want to cry. 

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Angelica - I'm sure it's the stress of your deadline. Take deep breaths and know we are with you. Let your faith be stronger than your fear. I know easier said than done, but trying to help.

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1 hour ago, anxiouslisa said:

Angelica - I'm sure it's the stress of your deadline. Take deep breaths and know we are with you. Let your faith be stronger than your fear. I know easier said than done, but trying to help.

Thanks, Lisa. I've been through the wringer this past year. My contract has been in flux basically since I started this job, I was switched to a new contracting company last month, and we're understaffed. We were barely staffed to begin with, but we got by. Now we're down from three staff to two and have no manager, so I'm basically the acting manager. We've had three? four? major deliverables due and I've had to juggle all of that. Not a good place for someone with anxiety (and no self-confidence) to be. My company still has no clue when we'll have a manager.

On top of all that, the anniversary of my mom's death is coming up. I know losing her is what threw me into this spiral, and I'm still not dealing with the loss of her OR my hypochondria well. Every time I think I'm ok and I'm pulling myself up, something new happens and knocks me back down. I'd never had a lot of physical symptoms with my HA before, and each one is scarier than the last. 

I also used to go to the doctor IMMEDIATELY when I was scared before. Not anymore. I guess it's because the doctors couldn't save my mom, and I'm afraid they can't save me, either? That I'll go in and go through that whole process of tests and worrying and wondering just to find out that there's nothing they can do? I feel like this is all connected somehow.

In the meantime, I wish this pain would go away. It keeps shifting from back to front, side to side. Sometimes it will relieve for a moment, then reappear in one spot or another. I'm trying to stretch, to breathe properly, to keep good posture, but relief never stays long. I'm scared and I want to sleep until this goes away, because every moment I'm awake, I'm terrified. 

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@Angelica Schuyler I'm the same. The only time I get a break from my HA is when I sleep, otherwise I spend every waking moment assessing how I feel, am I dizzy, am I lightheaded, why does this or that hurt, i wonder what my pulse is....on and on all day long. Right after I responded to you earlier , I left work and had a full blown anxiety attack while driving on the expressway home. I tried to tell myself what I told you. Let faith be stronger than fear, but at the time nothing makes sense. My heart was pounding so hard, couldn't catch breath, tight muscles and tunnel vision - full blown fear. 

I'm 51 and lost my mom when I was 38. She was a single mom and it was just her and I until I got married and had my own kids. She died from ovarian cancer at 59yo and it still effects me everyday, and like you made me terrified of healthcare (and I'm a nurse). Your job alone sounds extremely stressful, I truly think you are ok, you are just going through a lot and handling a lot and health anxiety becomes our safety net, something we can control and worry about. I'm so sorry you are going through this. Hang in there and keep reaching out. It helps to talk with ppl who understand. 

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I’m sorry that you’re dealing with all of this, too, @anxiouslisa. It’s so miserable and scary. Panicking while out and about, especially alone, is the worst, because all you want to do is get back home and have someone there and it takes so long and you’re scrambling to leave and just trying to keep it together...

You and your mom sound a lot like me and mine. I was the only child; she and my dad divorced when I was eight; she was the only child of her parents, and they both died before I turned 15. It was just the two of us for a long time, and I helped her financially and physically, especially as she got sicker. She died at 58. I started having hypochondria after my own cancer diagnosis, but went on medication and did pretty well until I lost Mom. Now it’s as if nothing can touch it. 

I think you’re right about anxiety being a safety net. There’s so much in life that we can’t control, and so many other worries that we’ve never experienced that we go back to what we know - health anxiety - to “protect” us from the other unknown. I truly believe that my hypochondria is partially a defense mechanism that gives me something familiar to focus on instead of dealing with my grief.

I’m so glad that you and other folks are here to listen and understand. I was Googling tonight, despite knowing better, and ended up down a rabbit hole of fast-moving lung cancer that started as back pain. I called my fiancé sobbing, panicking because of what I read and how the heating pad that helped my back last night isn’t helping my chest. I hated myself for sabotaging my day, which was pretty good for the most part, especially since my back was feeling better.

Some days, I wish I could have a full-body MRI.

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3 hours ago, Angelica Schuyler said:

I’m sorry that you’re dealing with all of this, too, @anxiouslisa. It’s so miserable and scary. Panicking while out and about, especially alone, is the worst, because all you want to do is get back home and have someone there and it takes so long and you’re scrambling to leave and just trying to keep it together...

You and your mom sound a lot like me and mine. I was the only child; she and my dad divorced when I was eight; she was the only child of her parents, and they both died before I turned 15. It was just the two of us for a long time, and I helped her financially and physically, especially as she got sicker. She died at 58. I started having hypochondria after my own cancer diagnosis, but went on medication and did pretty well until I lost Mom. Now it’s as if nothing can touch it. 

I think you’re right about anxiety being a safety net. There’s so much in life that we can’t control, and so many other worries that we’ve never experienced that we go back to what we know - health anxiety - to “protect” us from the other unknown. I truly believe that my hypochondria is partially a defense mechanism that gives me something familiar to focus on instead of dealing with my grief.

I’m so glad that you and other folks are here to listen and understand. I was Googling tonight, despite knowing better, and ended up down a rabbit hole of fast-moving lung cancer that started as back pain. I called my fiancé sobbing, panicking because of what I read and how the heating pad that helped my back last night isn’t helping my chest. I hated myself for sabotaging my day, which was pretty good for the most part, especially since my back was feeling better.

Some days, I wish I could have a full-body MRI.

I'm sorry. Yes googling only leads to shear panic. I really really try to avoid it. My Dr really scolded me about googling. She said Google doesn't know you, it's not a Dr.. of course all the things we already know. As tempting as it is, don't google. Don't read those stories either.  Yes they are all sad and horribl but that isn't you. 

You gave me great advice and how muscle strain can cause all kinds of radiating pains.. that is the same for you. I know exactly the pain you are talking about.  Are you able to get a massage ?? I know you have been stressed with work too.. it sure would help release your tension and help and sore muscles. 

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