there seems to be allot of us. and our posts are always very long as we try to muster up all information that might help us find resolve. i have learned since joining these boards that long posts don't round up many responses.
I am on a journey to cure what ails me right now. on monday, i might get a final diagnosis and i want to share how that came to be for me.
even if i don't get any responses, i will be able to reflect on my own story and share it with readers who might be able to draw some conclusions of their own from my experience.
for me it started a year ago. I'm a perfectly healthy, resilient 23 year old mother with a few bad habits (smoking cigarettes and, occasionally, marijuana). I have always been a good eater when it comes to choosing food but have never had much of an appetite. my average weight between my three pregnancies has been about 115. i've always had perfect blood pressure. i have asthma that only comes on when i have the flu and i have often ended up in hospital needing a ventilator, and on some occasions, having pneumonia.
a year ago, while on a long trip, i had my first panic attack. i was very tired, my hands and legs began tingling, my heart started beating harder and faster, I started feeling dizzy, my breathing became rushed and shallow, and just as I got into the hospital, i blacked out. didn't faint, per se, but my vision darkened and I collapsed. i was given an ativan and sent on my way.
a follow-up with my doctor a week later went as follows:
i told him about the episode and how my chest had been aching since as well as muscle pain i had been feeling in my back. he checked for nerve problems and then told me it was all part of the anxiety.
anyone who has begun a journey with anxiety knows that once it starts, it's hard to shake or ignore your symptoms. and i had many symptoms.
for the following four months or so, i saw several doctors on several occasions for symptoms including chest pain, tingling, headaches, stomach cramps, heart palpitations, feelings of going crazy or losing control, itching, dizzyness, enlarged nodes (one behind my ear, one in my neck), two pea-sized lumps in my vagina, sensations like water pouring down my head and back... you name it. my doctors would prescribe me muscle relaxers for neck/back pain, antidepressants for depression, ativan for anxiety..all which i never took. when I did eventually get blood tests, they were normal, although my blood pressure had lowered to about 90/60 and stayed low since about this time.
about five or six months after my first anxiety attack, i went for my regular PAP. got a call a few weeks later which began my journey with CIN3 and carcinoma in situ. for those who haven't heard, this means i had cancerous cells on my cervix and i had to have a surgical procedure to remove the top portion of my cervix to prevent the cancerous cells from spreading. the procedure is called a LEEP (loop electrical excision procedure)
the results of the leep were "unclear margins", meaning that when they examined the removed tissue, they discovered that they had left remaining cancerous cells in my cervix. they didn't get enough out. i was told to come back 6 months later for a follow-up PAP to see whether I needed another LEEP.
In the meantime, I had been noticing this strange little lump in my groin/upper thigh. it was getting bigger. my doc had examined it a month before and told me it was a NORMAL inguinal lymph node. but i got an infection from the surgery and the node started getting bigger, even after taking antibiotics.
since the time of the abnormal PAP i had gotten used to the fluttering heart sensations, chest pain and muscle aches. i didn't get all nervous and worried after my heart thudded or when my back and chest ached. i just dealt with it.
so, around 2 months ago, i asked about this lump again. the doc wrote out an order for an ultrasound. I waited another month.
about 2 weeks after the ultrasound, on a saterday, my doctor phoned me to tell me to come in that sunday early in the morning and meet him in the emergency department. he told me that the lump was actually a hardened, enlarged lymph node
which had adhered to surrounding tissue. surgery was scheduled for 3 weeks after to remove that one node. this was about one months ago from today.
a week before surgery, i decided that i wanted a second opinion. i traveled to the nearest biggest city and spoke with a doctor about my concerns. she tested my blood, my liver, my heart, and my lungs. all were good and clear. then she gave me a pelvic exam.
the pelvic exam revealed bleeding vaginal lesions and an irritated cervix. she said it looked like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
. i agreed when she asked whether intercourse was painful. she prescribed me a 2-week course of antibiotics to clear up whatever infection/std/bacteria/fungus which was causing my symptoms. back home i went, prepared for my surgery and relieved about tests which were clear.
so here i am today. that surgery was done last thursday. i'm healing well but i have numbness and burning pain in the upper part of the leg where the lymph node was removed. it extends all the way down to my knee, even though the incision was only three cm in my groin.
i went to the doctor yesterday about the numbness. he referred to the surgery report and explained that the surgeon actually had to remove several nodes
. the hardest one (the famous lump) was actually beneath my thigh muscle, near the main artery of my leg. the doctor explained how the procedure had complications, such as bleeding and needing to get under that muscle. hence, the nerve damage. it may or may not go away.
in five days i will see the doctor about the biopsy results on those nodes.
my anxiety-ridden mind just knows i have cancer. but, as my friend said, "think thoughts that make you happy, and never mind reality"
easier to say than it is to do, but it does help.
in any case, i'm hoping with every cell in my body that this is only a very close call and i'll look back on this all as a minor blip in the story of my life. but it has been one hell of a year for me.
the anxiety is chronic now, in that the symptoms persist whether or not they worry me. i've learned to just get used to them.
I HOPE that after this appointment, i'll still expect to live a full life. i'll be able to accept this diagnosis and move on, ridding myself of every ounce of anxiety that has cursed me this last year, and continuing the life i was leading before that first anxiety attack i had a year ago.
If you have a long story to tell, I want to read it. If my health anxiety has done anything for me, it has allowed me to understand many symptoms of anxiety and explain them away. I also have believed and researched so many potential ailments linking my symptoms to a diagnosis that my doctor has joked in my appointments that he and I should switch seats.
To everyone suffering from unexplainable/complicated symptoms, you are not alone and I want to hear your story.
i will write again next week.
ps- if you have had similar pelvic problems, lymph node problems, or anxiety problems that have been resolved, please
share your story!!