Health Anxiety: rabies, cancer

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TrinaRiz
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2017
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 8/23/2017 2:22 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello, this is my first time posting at any health forum.

I'm coming to realize I need to seek professional help for my health anxiety. I've been hypochondriac all my life but yesterday I realized how screwed up my mind was.

First of all, I have some legitimate health concerns right now: I've discovered a lump in my breast and I'm awaiting a biopsy on it. It's not highly suspicious for cancer on Ultrasound, but the only way to tell for sure is to do a biopsy, which is scheduled for Monday. I've been in a constant anxious state since I discovered this lump three weeks ago, but in the past several days managed to get things somewhat under control.

Next thing to mention is that I always had irrational fear of rabies. I searched this forum and see that this is not uncommon. I've feared rabies from domestic cats and dogs (which I know I shouldn't) and certainly from bats. We live next to open space and I've seen bats there, but not near the homes in the subdivision, never saw one close.
So, enter my current panic that started yesterday.

As one of the ways to cope with anxiety I go on long walks. Yesterday I was walking after dark around my neighborhood and was walking next to the open space. Is is basically just a big open prairie that borders the neighborhood. I was on an opposite side of the street from the open space. Suddenly I felt a bug flying into my face. I touched it with my hand and felt hard wings under my fingers for a split second, then the thing flew away. My first thought was "good thing it wasn't a bat, just a bug, or I would be freaking out". That was enough to start me thinking "what if it WAS a bat?!"

I felt a little scratch on my face. When I came home there was a little red mark, mostly resembling an impression of my finger nail (I instinctively touched my face when that bug flew into me and I could have easily nicked myself with a finder nail). But of course I convinced myself this could have been a bat bite.

I talked it through with my husband (who is extremely supportive and urges me to seek therapy for my anxiety) and we agreed there was no way I could have mistaken a bug for a bat. I would've felt bats body, wings etc. They are not small, and that thing that hit me fit under my two fingers. This definitely felt like a June bug that fly like crazy at dusk and after dark around here. They only see lights in the distance and it was probably going for a street light behind me. I've been hit by these bugs on my walks/hikes before, and it never bothered me, but now I'm freaking out. I understand that even if I was completely impaired/intoxicated (which I wasn't) the probability of being hit in a face by a June bug is infinitely higher than by some insane bat flying into a human. But I was aware of my surroundings and distinctly felt a bug under my fingers (no big leathery wings, no fury body, just hard wings and may be legs), why am I having all these crazy thoughts about bats? This is so frustrating. I looked up "intrusive thoughts" this morning, and this is exactly what it is. I understand irrationality of it all, yet can't stop thinking about it and checking the spot on my face where I saw the red mark. (It's no longer red, and I even think what I saw was just a pore, lol)

I think it's because I'm on edge due to real possibility my breast lump will turn out to be cancerous. Also, yesterday morning I listened to a podcast about that Wisconsin girl who survived rabies in 2004. Why did I even listen to it, knowing how any thoughts of rabies trigger me?

I guess I just need to voice my irrational fears and see if someone can confirm that my bat fear is totally irrational. Thank you for listening. Also, if you have recommendation on steps of seeking help for health anxiety, I will appreciate it.

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 26809
   Posted 8/23/2017 3:02 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi TR and welcome!

I am sorry to hear of all that you are dealing with atm...of course you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed...I would be too!

Not because I think you have reason to worry, but because I am just wired up the same way. smile

Waiting on results such as you are regarding your breast biopsy is rough. So many 'what ifs' run through the mind. Everyone can relate to this...but we with anxiety take it to the next level!

So, now you are experiencing the 'teacup effect'...where stress drips into the cup, drop by drop...until the worries overflow, and there is little control now for keeping the waters contained. Was the bug/bat incident significant in and of itself? No...it is an irrational worry that has just tipped the scales. However, the fear is very real to you!

Fortunately there are methods that will help you regain management of your rational thinking again...and to help you decompress in general.

Please see our Resources at the top of the main forum page here. Inside you'll find self help in the form of Therapy Worksheets for managing intrusive thoughts...and a link for Positive Mantras and Affirmations to keep your thinking in a good place...links for Stress Relieving Exercises as well as sites specifically for Health Anxiety.

Practicing the suggested exercises daily will make a big difference in how you feel until you can get an appointment with a therapist.

Keep posting with us as well if you find it helpful. We understand, care and support is key!

Talk soon,

Scaredy Cat
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

TrinaRiz
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2017
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 8/23/2017 5:45 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you, Scaredy Cat! So, does it make sense to you that what I encountered was a bug and not a bat? I've been going back and forth on this. What if it was a small bat? I know lots of times they don't even leave bite marks, and something did scratch me. I thought it was bug's legs/wings against my skin, and this is how it felt, but what if it was a bat? And a rabid one at that. It's not unlikely to encounter a bat where I was walking, I've seen them flying there just a week ago. Granted, they never came close, I just saw them flying about 40 ft high in the sky.

Rabies is a binary thing. You either get it and die, or you don't get it and live. I think that is why the fear of rabies is so widespread.

I'm trying to get an appointment for tomorrow to see a family doctor. Unfortunately, I don't have a PCP (or rather, I had one, then she left, I once saw another doc from the same practice, wasn't impressed and stopped going there). I will call my husband's doctor tomorrow, I need to get a PCP regardless. I will tell them about my incident, and that I suffer from this debilitating anxiety. I was unable to work all day today sad

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 26809
   Posted 8/23/2017 5:55 PM (GMT -6)   
I'd say your chances of having encountered a rabid bat are hovering at about zero. ;)

However, we both know that isn't even the point here. We would literally have to live in a box our whole lives to avoid things to get worried about...

...what we need to do is get help for anxiety management (and the irrational fears)...so it is good that you are moving in that direction!

Keep seeking your recovery, so that you can enjoy a Summer evening stroll...even among the junebugs!

P.S. I have my own bat story, but didn't write it out for fear of triggering any more fears for you. Just suffice it to say I know exactly how you feel!

S.C.
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

TrinaRiz
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2017
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 8/23/2017 6:06 PM (GMT -6)   
I read your story when I searched some other threads that had to do with rabies and bats smile

In your case you were reassured because the bat was caught and tested. I didn't even see a bat, but it was so dark... I so wish I was walking with my husband, like we usually do. Yesterday he decided to catch up on some work and I went without him sad. Now anxiety is killing me. I looked again at the place on my chin where I felt a scratch, and I think I see some marks again. And, of course, I'm thinking - since this is on the face, I have to move faster, if I want to go ask for rabies shots.

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 26809
   Posted 8/23/2017 6:23 PM (GMT -6)   
Yes...that is one way of looking at it...

Of course, another way of seeing things...is that in my case, there WAS a indeed a bat.

You are worried about a bat...but the fact remains that there is only the most miniscule of chances that there was a bat in your vicinity last night...

...and even less of a chance that it was rabid...

...and even less of a chance than that, that it could do a fly by biting! (I had a person from animal control tell me that my daughter would have been screaming, b/c the bat would have to be holding onto her with a firm grip before biting...in other words you KNOW it when you've been bitten)

I am not trying to minimalize your fear. I know that its very real to you...

...I am just trying to reassure you that you have a better chance of winning the Powerball than of having gotten infected last night.

Look up that self help in our Resources, and work these worries our through some Therapy worksheets...they will help! ❤

S.C.
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

Post Edited (Scaredy Cat) : 8/23/2017 6:56:28 PM (GMT-6)


TrinaRiz
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2017
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 8/23/2017 8:23 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you so much, SC! This is really helping. I'm going to check out the Resources, as you suggested.
Also, what you said about bat not being able to just bite and fly away without me noticing also helps.

I talked to my husband again today, telling him I will try to see his Dr tomorrow because I just can't handle this by myself any longer. My husband is great, and talking through my fears with him helps, but since he doesn't quite grasp how my mind goes to the darkest of the possibilities almost immediately, it's not the same as having someone who knows how it feels. Also, I don't want him to constantly be my "toilet" and overwhelm him. I've done enough talking through the possibilities for my lump turning out to be cancer.

Funny thing, I wasn't worried about cancer today at all smile

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 26809
   Posted 8/23/2017 11:00 PM (GMT -6)   
YWC!

Post as often as you need/want to! We are glad to have you join us.😊

S.C.
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

TrinaRiz
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2017
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 8/24/2017 7:40 PM (GMT -6)   
So... I actually got first shot in the Rabies PEP series today. I feel a huge relief!

I was completely honest with the doc (PA, actually). I told her I wasn't sure what scratched me, it was dark and I couldn't see anything. She first started down the path of asking if I saw a bite, blood, implying that the bat was flying and therefore healthy, but then paused for a second and I saw her researching a bit on her laptop. She first thought I should go to Infectious Disease clinic, and let them determine if I should get a vaccine, but then she talked to the doctor. He was in the room next to where I was sitting, so I could hear him calling someone and clearly talking about me (I heard "bat", "possible exposure"). In 5 minutes they told me I should go to the ER and they would know about me and have everything ready for me.

ER doc thought my concerns were legit. He said in our area he sees people coming for shots in questionable situations all the time (nurses later told me they see someone at least once a week). We live next to significant rabies reservoirs (skunks, bats and raccoons are plentiful) and with rabies nobody is going to take any chances. ER doc also mentioned that out of 30 or so cases of human rabies in the US over the past 20 years, 20-something were from bats where no known bite had occurred. So, they take any possible bat contact very seriously.

I will need to complete the series over the next 2 weeks, but I'm really glad I have it started. (Possibly, for now, before any side effects show up, hehe). I really enjoy outdoors, and if I feel protected at least in regards to rabies (my all time high anxiety trigger), I will be better off in the end.

Also, I shared with PA why I was in this anxious state to begin with (breast lump, upcoming biopsy). She is a BC survivor herself! She told me if it turns out to be cancerous, that I could count on their practice and her specifically to guide me through treatments. She also gave me a script for lorazepam. I'm not sure I want to take it right now, but maybe the day of biopsy? From what I'm reading it can make you really sleepy and you are not supposed to drive after taking it. I need to be able to concentrate and work, also need to be driving in the next few days. Will see.

Mrs.Worried
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2017
Total Posts : 98
   Posted 8/24/2017 8:31 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm happy to hear you're getting what seems to be very good care from your providers! It's wonderful the PA can understand your worries since she herself is a BC survivor. Fingers crossed that things go well with the rabies series! And, of course, your upcoming biopsy. I'm sure everything will turn out just fine.

As for the lorazepam, I used to take Ativan (same thing) and it didn't make me so sleepy that I couldn't function (it didn't make me sleepy at all). I was able to take it and still competently care for 3 children and it never bothered me enough that I felt I couldn't drive. It effects everyone differently, obviously. Maybe try it on a day when you don't have to work and see how it effects you. It sounds like a good option to help you through this rough patch.

Keep us updated and let us know how things go with your biopsy. All good things, I'm sure!
Wacee

PTSD, GAD, Panic Disorder, and health anxiety sufferer.
Celexa & Buspar daily. Vistaril PRN.

Proud owner of a wonderful service dog.

"Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway." -John Wayne

"I have suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened." -Mark Twain

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 26809
   Posted 8/24/2017 9:55 PM (GMT -6)   
TR,

I too am glad to hear that you are getting good care...and the reassurances you need.

I second the idea of taking your benzo on a day you can stay home...to see how it affects you.

Keep us updated so that we can keep you in support.😊 I'll check back with you on Monday to see how your procedure went if that's okay.

S.C.
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

TrinaRiz
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2017
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 8/24/2017 10:40 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you both! SC, this is so sweet, yes, I would appreciate that.

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 26809
   Posted 8/28/2017 9:55 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi TR,

Just checking in. smile Have you had your appointment/procedure yet?

If so, I hope that all went well and that you are resting and comfortable at home now.

Thoughts and prayers of peace and calm going out to you now. Check in when you can.

(((((hugs)))))

S.C.
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 26809
   Posted 8/29/2017 9:39 AM (GMT -6)   
Bump
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

TrinaRiz
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2017
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 8/29/2017 5:26 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi SC,

Thank you for checking on me!
Yes, I had my biopsy yesterday. It went surprisingly well. Interestingly, I usually don't worry about the pain. I don't like needles and hospitals (who does?!) but once I know I need to do something that involves medical paraphernalia, I'm ok.

The doctor and nurses were wonderful. Somehow, they managed to do everything so gently that I didn't get any bruising (I heard core needle biopsy often results in serious bruising). I had just a little bit of mild discomfort when the anesthesia wore off in the evening, but by morning nothing was bothering me.

Of course, I'm very worried about the results. I resisted the urge to prod the radiologist for his impression of my lump. He wouldn't be able to tell me anything definitive, other than what I already know, anyway. I should have results by Thursday, maybe even tomorrow (Wednesday). Unfortunately, it will be delivered via a phone call from the OBGYN nurse practitioner, which means I will jump at every phone call tomorrow. (I started practicing today).

In other news, I noticed that my anxiety is worse in the morning, much much worse. I decided to take less than 0.5 mg lorazepam today. The effect wasn't great: I was still worried about my potential diagnosis, all scenarios from bad to worse rushing through my head, but on top of that I was pretty sleepy. Luckily, sleepiness wore off in a few hours, and I don't feel incapacitated anymore (I need to take my son to his lesson in a few minutes).

I did calm down about the potential "what ifs" towards mid day and was able to work some. Not giving lorazepam credit for this though. Not sure if I want to try it again tomorrow - I need to be able to drive earlier in the day (around 2:45 pm or so).

Luckily, tomorrow I have a work call at 8:30. I think jumping out of bed like I'm peeling a band aid off may be better for me. Today I had some time in the morning, so I just stayed in bed until 8:30. In my defense, I had a work call yesterday that lasted until midnight, and then it took me 40 minutes to unwind and fall asleep, so I felt like I deserved to sleep in a little.

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 26809
   Posted 8/29/2017 6:15 PM (GMT -6)   
TR,

I am so glad that the procedure was easier than you anticipated! That is a relief to have it over and done with I am sure...

...but yes, waiting for results is rough for everyone, and especially hard for anxiety suffers!

Remember that you have a much better chance of good or neutral news than unwanted results...2/3rds in your favor to be exact.smile

Don't worry about something double as my grandmother used to say. In fact I turned this into a mantra for when I am bothered by intrusive thoughts about things I can't control in the present. I tell myself:

"It's not time to be thinking about that now."

It's simple, but with some persistence, it does help.

You are in my thoughts and prayers! Keep us updated.

S.C.
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

Post Edited (Scaredy Cat) : 8/29/2017 6:18:43 PM (GMT-6)


Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 26809
   Posted 9/1/2017 10:33 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi TR,

Checking in...

Share if you feel the need. We are here.

S.C.
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT
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