jerry

Health anxiety for 20+ years, new symptoms, new cancer scare.

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Hi there

I have severe cancerophobia and phobia of other diseases for the last 20 years, on and off. Last few years I didn't have so many problems that I had in the past, but now I am scared to death again.

I am now 51 and this means that I also don't have youth in my favor, for most of the cancers incidence goes up after 50...

Anyway, on to my story. End of october my heck began to hurt me. I was there before, because I work on the computer and I have forward neck posture and I sleep on my stomach which I heard is not good bot the neck. I've had neck pain and stiffness radiating to the shoulder a few times, they can be severe so I can hardly turn my neck in one direction.

This time it was different. My whole neck feels stiff and in 1 month I developed more neck pain, so I have hard time sleeping on either side or the back. Worst is when I look right and down, then there is a spot beween my shoulders and neck that is the center of the pain and neck itself is also stiff (like doing chin tucks the middle of the neck is painfully stiff).

When things aren't the same as they used to be, I get scared. At the same time I had some stomach pain, nothing much, and 1 week later colon problems (I had this in 2005 for months), like 5 times a day going to toilet, mucus in stool, flatulence... no blood... I also started to have more prominent twitching again (in 2010 I got so severe twitching I thought I had ALS), below left shoulder it twitched for 14 days non stop. You can imagine how I felt.

I got scared I have neck cancer. I went to x-ray of the neck, to ortopedics doctor and he told there is some degenerative problem, but nothing that would explain so severe neck pain symptoms for 2 months.

This was 1 month ago, since then my neck is the same, sometimes better sometimes worse, but not withought pain at least in the middle of the neck and between left shoulder blade and neck. Right should is in pain for 6 months now, but this doesn't scare me, although x-ray of the shoulder shown NOTHING. I had this before years back and even ultrasound of the shoulder showed nothing...

Anyway, about a month ago I got this hoarse voice and I was diagnosed with LFR reflux in 2013 but then I thought that I may have laryngeal cancer and that is why my neck hurts. Doctors couldn't tell me that the neck stiffness in not from the throat.

To make matters worse, I discovered I get small particles of food often to be going into windpipe, one day about 7 days ago when sipping tea I got tea in the lungs for 3 times in a row. And when eating peanuts and nuts and cakes, the small particles seem to stay in my throat and I have to clear throat all the time (post nasal drip and throat clearing is something I have since 2013) to get rid of them, they hurt me on the way down often.

Than 4 days ago I seem to have some sort of dysphagia. I feel like the food AND drink goes down in a wierd way, immediately after drinking something I have to burp a little to get the air out, my stomach has all this noises... I googled and found esophageal cancer and I didn't even know this type is so deadly 😞

Since then yesterday I found out that I can not stopped thinking about how I swallow, and I don't swallow OK, it feels like there is a lump when I swallow even salvia and that the motility in esophagus and stomach. Immediately after one sip I feel how the water has hard time going down the throat and like the lower muscle would not let the water out and it comes to stomach and I have burping and gas immediately... And then pain in the chest like with GERD. Problem is I take omeprazole for 7 days and antiacids and my diet is not anti acidic, but things get only worse.

And I am thinking, that this must be esophageal canncer, what else could it be 😞 It is like I have a lump in esophagus with pain on swallow around there and upper stomach.

I don't know what to do, I even can not make my will now as everything is closed for the holiday and corona in my country is really really bad, we have the most deaths in Europe on the 100.000 people 😞

Can you have motility problem and some sort of spasms in esophagus and stomach without cancer? Few years ago I drank a little too much (not that I was a drunk or anything and never smoked) and maybe this is now the pay for the wine glasses I had 😞

I feel miserable with this stomach and esophagus pain and nothing helps it just goes worse. The voice is ok now and the bad tongue feeling I had some weeks ago also, but this is getting worse.

I google and I can not find the link between cancer and stiff neck pain though. And with cancer they said first you have hard time swallowing solids and gradually you have problem with liquids. Makes sense. But I got problems with solids and liquids the SAME time during a period of 5 days from 0 to 100%.

I really feel in a doom place right now. And it is Christmas eve tonight...

I guess I just needed to write it out... No need to answer, I undeerstand nobody knows what I have and I can not have gastroscopy right now because of the holidays, it would take 1 months and if this is stage IV cancer (with such severe problems can not be stage I), that I am dead already. I never had such problems with swallowing, I did have with the burning in stomach and after 6 months in 20055 of pain I went to endoscopy (terrible for me) and they found nothing at all wrong and I rolled on my bed night before in pain. But that was 15 years ago. Since then a cancer could clearly had enough time to grow... And I didn't have painfull swallowing with lump in my throat...

Take care

Jerry

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Hi Jerry, I hope you managed to enjoy the festive period, I'm sorry you've been feeling this way! 

 

I have quite bad reflux, and I frequently find that it can give me a small cough, or I burp loads after eating/drinking something which triggers it. Anxiety and reflux can both give the illusion of something stuff in your throat too, it's amazing what the brain can trick you into thinking! 

 

If a Dr has said in the past month that there's nothing wrong, I'd start trusting them and looking down other avenues. Maybe invest in a comfier pillow, I sleep with a pregnancy pillow as it stops me from sleeping on my stomach, and gives me better neck/head support than a regular one, and it's also great for your back posture! Maybe contact a physio for some neck exercises? I work in an office job too at a computer all day, so I know firsthand that a good physio and massage can do wonders! 

 

Please don't worry about writing your will, or dying, and please speak to your Dr regarding your anxiety surrounding this situation, they should hopefully be able to help get your mind at rest, and help you move forward. 

 

Always here if you need a chat! 

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Thanx. I didn't speak with gastro doctor yet, just orthopedics for neck, he didn't find much wrong and I have 2 months non stop neck and both shoulders pain. Now with holidays and corona it is hard to go see a doctor. I did write a doctor of Gastro end ENT a long letter about my symptoms, he told me he would need to check me, but that this doesn't sound like esophageal cancer at all. Having problem with liquids and solids the same, not lost a lot of weight, some days are better than others (doesn't happen with cancer or als, there is only one way there, symptom starts doesn't end.) etc.

Now I have twitches in the throat, OMG. Hope not back to the pit of ALS fear I was in 2011. Because more problem with swallowing liquids than solids could be bulbar ALS, and now I got twitches, coincidence? But I have them all over anyway for 2 months and 10 years back it was even worse (just not in throat). Maybe mind can really play on you. If I can unconcentrate of how I drink, I have less problems.

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Hi. Jerry. You say no one knows what's wrong. I do!!! Anxiety!!! Now it is a fact that anxiety can mimic any known disease if it's in your mind., and some unknown ones!! You are making the biggest mistake any HA sufferer can make, you are Googling. Throughout the years on this site so many have Googled and made themselves ten times worse. I notice you use some medical terminology. We are not doctors and such words are meaningless.  You have had enough checkups to reassure you, but the fear of any disease does not go away easily. Having been checked out and found to have nothing really physically wrong, then believe your medics. They do know about physical diseases, you don't. My father, who lived to 95, had every disease known to man, yet hardly ever had a days real illness and never went to hospital. His life was made uncomfortable and miserable by his belief in various phobias. Surely there is a lesson there. 

Accept that you will feel this way for a while. but accept the thoughts and pains however they worry you. Health anxiety is an illness like any other, but it won't kill you. No death certificate ever read ' he died from health anxiety'. 

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Thank you for your kind words.

I wasn't reassured about esophagus/stomach problems because I didn't go to gastroscopy yet (and to GA doctor), now during holidays and corona nobody is working (except corona doctors).

But the wierd thing is during New Years eve I ate "wrongly", late at night and also some sweets and my stomach and swallowing was better and that day and following day. So I don't feel I can not swallow every day the same. That I think really makes cancer unlikely, as from my understanding the disease of cancer is like ALS - once there is a obstruction it stays, does not go to better at any point in time. I am really puzzled if anxiety really can make all this, even twitching in the throat.

I do have some colon problems and nausea today, so the symptoms really do change a bit...

My neck is however quite bad, can not turn head not left not right not up nor down very much. It just feels stiff the neck and the shoulder blade area. I guess that is not connected to my GA problems at all. Can stiff neck be anxiety for 2 months?

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Yes Jerry. It can be anxiety for 2 months, twenty months or twenty years. There is a nervous disorder called 'globus hystericus'. (Now don't look it up. Not worth it!).It feels like a lump in the throat. It's not but feels like it. Have you ever heard anyone say 'that brought a lump to my throat' when they have been emotionally disturbed? It come back to the old story and the old fact. Anxiety can mimic any disease.  Neck muscles are very prone to causing problems in anxiety. The neck tenses up and can cause headaches and pain. 

 

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Hi Jerry

 

What Jonathan is saying is so true - due to my anxiety, I was super tense all the time, I had excruciating pain in my back that just linked into everything I thought was wrong. After getting my anxiety to a manageable level, I thought it'd go away instantly, but it takes time for your body to undo the effects of anxiety. I went for a few deep tissue massages (I thought massages were supposed to be relaxing 😅 they done the job though!) and had a few sessions with a physiotherapist (she used to be the physio for a football team down my way, she was fab), and honestly, the difference it made was amazing, the lasting effects of the tension melted away. 

 

Work on your anxiety, and the rest will follow. Coming to this forum means you suspect anxiety is the cause, lean into that and work on that first, and you'll be amazed the changes that come from it. 

 

Hope you're feeling well 🙂 x

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My swallowing is worse now (but was better after New year. 2 times I got food stuck in my throat I had to drink something to get it down- This never happened to me before, so this is not globus sensation only, the food really got stuck... So I am worry again about tumor, what else could the food be stuck at? 😞 But some illogic is that small pieces of food got stuck, not bread. Once a piece of peanut  and once a piece of corn.

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Sometimes food gets stuck for me too. Around 15 years ago I had an esophageal ulcer near my stomach. It was extremely painful and every time I ate food, my back burned like it was on fire. It was diagnosed by an EGD and healed by the use of Nexium. I have a hiatal hernia too and GERD. My GI physician has told me that stress, GERD, etc., can cause swallowing issues. He has told me to stay way from alcohol, don't eat 2 hours before bed, keep my weight down and drink plenty of water. He told me that even when someone has Barrett's esophagus, esophageal cancer is still pretty rare. My GI physician also told me that in many cases, the cause of nausea is never found. 

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I would agree with all of the above posts.  Anxiety can do all kinds of things to the body.  It cranks up my nausea, makes my muscles tense to the point I shiver.  Breathing is tough, and there have been times when swallowing was next to impossible, like a large air bubble kept going up and down my esophagus and couldn't expel the air! 

It doesn't sound like acid indigestion and a lump in the throat would be cancer.  Ulcers are bacterial (that took a while to figure out).  If the doctor said you are fins based on recent tests, then you are to believe him - he is telling the truth.  He performs testing all the time, so he would know what to look for.  I do software testing and know what to look for! 

I do have a bit of trouble with occasional arm and neck stiffness due to the way I sleep.  The only way to get through it is *gently* stretch every day.  If you have to take an aspirin on bad days, do so sparingly. 

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I have not yet been to gastroscopy because I have to wait for 1 month due to corona. I was 15 years ago because of my stomach problems, similar of the ones I have now and everything was fine, no gastritis, nothing.

But I haven't been now and back then I didn't have the swallowing problem.

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You could try some over the counter Prilosec or Nexium and see if that helps. If your issues are from GERD or gastritis, they will help. 

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I have PPI (proton pump inhibitors that I take for 1 month, no difference). They have omniprezone inside. I think they are similar to your advice.

But then again, in 2005 when I had severe stomach problems, they also didn't help (i didn't have swallow problems). And then on gastroscopy the told me why they didn't help. Because they said my stomach is like from a baby, so clean, never any ulcer or something, they said it would show as scar. And I was having so much problems, pain in the top part of stomach, cramps, mucus in stool etc... They concluded I have functional dyspepsia and IBS syndrome.

Now I wonder, can one have irritable esophagus or can I be so frustrated and concentrated on swallowing that I "forget how to swallow" properly.

PS - I am still wondering if my trouble swallowing (lump in the throat) is somehow connected to my 3 month neck pain, both started at the same time and back of the neck is just opposite of throat, I believe there must be a connection.

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