Thursday, 4 February 2016

Health anxiety strikes again

Just for a change, I am going through a not especially fun time at the moment (this blog isn't just a moan outlet, honestly!). About a week before Christmas, I had a day or two of feeling really nauseous and bloated, with an uncomfortable stomach.  I put it down to a bug, as my Mum, sister and Drake all seemed to get the same thing too. We all recovered quickly and I enjoyed Christmas dinner, but my symptoms mysteriously returned a couple of days later and for a few weeks I felt mildly nauseous on and off and lacking any appetite.  Then the "loose motions" started (sorry if too much info). Just mornings, and sometimes evenings mostly,  with random twinges of pain around my abdomen, until yesterday when I felt properly awful and was on and off the loo most of the day.

The doctor (to whom I shall return tomorrow requesting further investigation) has called it as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, given that my blood tests and stool tests were normal.  I, being a bit of a worrier and obsessive Googler, have variously diagnosed myself with an ulcer, low stomach acid, excess stomach acid, parasites, Crohn's Disease, and cancer (a friend, my age, died of bowel cancer last year, so I am a little paranoid). What I do know for certain is that, not for the first time, I have a bad case of health anxiety.

I think the doctor is right and my problem almost certainly is IBS (it's very common, and there is family history), probably triggered by the mild virus I had and exacerbated by the stress of a new job, months of sleep deprivation and two hospital stays with Duckling in the space of six weeks. I'm pretty sure that giving up breastfeeding may have a lot to do with it too. I have not yet fully stopped,  but we're down to evenings and mornings only now, and it's sent my hormones into a tail spin - hot flushes, minor panic attacks, depression, weird sense of smell and taste, plus my first period in over two and a half years, which has been strangely familiar and alien at the same time.  I am a little sensitive to hormonal changes at the best of times (I will leave the story of my tumultuous time on The Pill for another post) so with everything else going on, I'm not that surprised that I'm suffering.  I just wish I wasn't, and that I could rationalise my way out of feeling so anxious about it all (which I'm sure is just making things ten times worse).

Poor Drake has seen me like this before (most famously on our first holiday together when I became convinced I had lymphoma and was slowly dying.  I didn't and I wasn't.) but still finds it hard to know how to help me. I had a bit of a sob on his shoulder yesterday along the lines of "what if this is actually something really serious and I leave you and Duckling behind???"  and then, "Even if it is just IBS, what if I end up feeling like I did today every day of the week?  How am I going to live a normal life when I can't be more than ten foot from a toilet...?!"  The answer to the latter question was discovered today in the form of Imodium - it got me through work without a hiccup, which is just as well as a minor blocked toilet tsunami had put all the bogs out of action on our floor.  Not my fault, honest guv.

On the bright side though, I've lost half a stone, so am finally back (and actually a bit below) my pre-baby weight.  Every cloud...  Sort of.

I have no idea where this whole experience is going to take me.  I am strongly hoping I'll be able to look back in a few months time, when I've been properly prodded and poked and I'm feeling 100% again, and be able to say "Well that was literally a bit shit wasn't it?!"  For now, I just have to stay calm, keep smiling and try not to get suckered into too many snake oil therapies online.  "Probiotic papaya enzymes you say?  Give me 50!"

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