THIS IS SLIGHTLY LONG-WINDED, SO IF YOU PREFER, SKIP TO THE BROKEN LINE NEAR THE BOTTOM
I never usually join such forums (I'm a silent sufferer) but having read a posting by Shelly1976, from a very old thread now closed, I decided to throw my story into the mix; hoping it may offer some help.
Firstly, I would like to state that whilst medicine can be very advanced in Britain and certainly, I have reasonable trust in the A&E (when it comes to the crunch), I do feel that the GP system is extremely poor and ultimately inefficient!
Born in the UK but of Greek-Cypriot origin, I have spent my life between the two countries. The bottom line is that there has been a very obvious accumulation of problems since I last returned to the UK. The reason for this is because of concerns (anxiety); an anxiety derived by the unknown. The point I am arriving at, is Shelly's advice on anxiety. Indeed, anxiety is a terrible thing and she is absolutely SPOT-ON when suggesting it important to reduce stress factors. I would like to also point out however, that diarrhoea and anxiety (stress) are a 'chicken and the egg' syndrome. A person may become anxious over their syndrome (especially if they do not know the cause) but then they will suffer diarrhoea as a consequence of their anxiety. So even if one's 'syndrome' has been relieved they won't know it. Certainly once a stage of hair loss and other factors have been reached, unless there is an underlying problem, it may possibly be a form of anxiety.
Anxiety is one of the most severe experiences of my life. But I do want to stress that I strongly believe no less than half of all UK anxiety sufferers are due to poor GP support. You see, in a country such as Cyprus, every single time you are unwell, a doctor will perform standard tests, touching, listening and generally exploring your body. GP's here, on the other hand, are trained to verbally assess you in under seven minutes. The first assessment is 'are you in grave danger'. The second is 'are you worth wasting NHS resources over.' This leaves many Britons worried on a long-term basis.
I have been through many extreme events in my life and I have always been able to respond well to circumstance and deal with emotions efficiently enough to survive without them impeding on my life. I will not go into all these events but in the last year before moving back to the UK again, I went through a wrongful arrest (8 days kept in a cell) and which continued to be a legal battle for months to come; a major break-up (of my own accord but nonetheless); the decision to drop a major franchise agreement to take FCUK to Cyprus and instead become a writer, shocking extended family; a bad accident that left me with a broken leg, smashed ankle and all my ligaments torn in that same leg; the loss of my life-long beloved dog (the day after I broke my leg); being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (the most random event of my life). And yet, in some ways, I had never been happier. I wrote my first poetry book and enjoyed life in a way I never had. My soul was absolutely free and I helped people in every way I could, reaching out to strangers in need on a regular basis and doing things that even surprised me. I always was an individual to come out of the worse, better off; more empowered, more humble and just happier.
HOWEVER, in every of the above cases, I knew what I was up against. The problem was clear and in most cases, the solution. When I returned to the UK, all was good. I worked hard and drove up and down the country and lived for living. Finally though, I began to feel a bit unwell. Doctors would give me one look, seeing a 'healthy', fit young man of 26 (then) and send me on my way. Soon I would be always dizzy and sometimes the ground would wobble and London would spin around me. To cut a long story short, I went back and forth to my surgery (the great Holland Park surgery) and nothing. I complained of pressure in my face, blurred and trembling vision, dizziness, diarrhoea and MORE. They would see recently diagnosed diabetic and I can only assume, thought, I was suffering from stress. I once even complained that my leg was now hurting everyday and without even further discussion, blamed diabetes (note I was recently diagnosed and in perfect health, on the honeymoon meaning recovered a bit and stopped using insulin - so as good as it could get - impossible to have problems with arteries).
It all got so bad, 6 months later, (in July) my eyelid had swollen for no apparent reason. They even showed me a book of pictures explaining it was a blocked molecule. Did they ask themselves what caused this, NO! I saw 12 GPs between this surgery of 6 and St Mary's hospital A&E. I was still told I had nothing and it was "all in my mind". That I need to relax. I became so unwell and ultimately afraid. Could it be in my mind? Really? It felt very real! was I crazy? I was looking up illnesses daily on the web and finally had a massive breakdown. This left me bed-ridden for weeks. I missed planned holidays and began having panic attacks regularly. Eventually, I decided to fight back. I had to re-train myself to be ME.
Still ill all the time and having been diagnosed with IBS and at one point in June chest infection, I was told I was FINE. I changed surgery and found a Greek man who knew a family member. I did not even meet the man (at that point). I called him and demanded an MRI. Come December, months later, we found I had a sinus infection that had spread throughout my face and into my eye socket; something that if untreated could endangering the membrane. According to NHS website, if you have sinusitis and experience eye swelling, you must go to A&E immediately. By this time though I also had heart burn and vomiting. Whilst dealing with all this, I was diagnosed with IBS.
The pain in my leg had gotten quite bad and yet nothing. At the hospital I was tested numerous times for a blood clot but nothing. Whilst visiting Cyprus, and lifting very heavy things like radiators, massive luggage (2 cases a go) and my girl for a bit of flirty fun, I noticed the pain getting worse but thought it was due to sleep discomfort. I finally collapsed (not fainted) from the pain at the local airport. Afraid to go back to the UNKNOWN in the UK where it took a year to discover (not resolve) a simple sinus infection, I went straight from the airport to my family doctor, whom I called on his mobile and stayed at his office, into the night, just for me. He saw me in pain. Asked me to lie down and had me lift each leg. In two minutes he said, "I think you have a slipped disc". With an MRI the next day, indeed he was right and I did have a slipped disc. In fact I had one crushed disc and two slipped. What angered me however, was that this had been happening for over a year (starting with a minor misplacement). because no doctor had examined me in any way, I continued to work out and travel and be extreme, making severe damage. All it would have taken would be 2 weeks rest a year before. instead, I was unable to walk properly for the next 2 months (and a year later, I still suffer and cannot lift heavy things, at only 28 - though thankful to be back to normal, almost). However, for the pain, I was given valium and I will return to this point. As it helped me.
Another half a year goes by of going back and fourth to my new doctor who kept sending me home. I grew pale. lethargic and weak, and began vomiting daily. I looked like a heroin addict and my doc would say, "no you are fine". I forced him to do blood tests. Several times i got good results until I asked, one day, for a list of teh tests. i found it was not 10% of possible tests. I then demanded for everything! Results came and after chasing them up for a week, I was told by phone that I was fine. At this point it was clear they thought I was paranoid. But I am sensible and I know me! During another call for something unrelated, my doc says "did I give you vitamin D tabs?". "Vit D" I asked. "No y?I" "oh, oops, it turns out you have severe deficiency of vit D and low calcium levels." Within days of taking the supplements my colour returned and I felt stronger again.
I was still vomiting and had heart burn and was diagnosed at the hospital with IBS, and on another occasion with chest infection but overall FIT as a FIDDLE. Still also suffering from my sinus infection, I eventually gave up and started going private which cost me a bomb. I was diagnosed with migraines and all sorts of rubbish until an ENT on Harley street realised I now had gastric reflux and slight damage to the oesophagus. All was a result of the sinus, the medications and fare enough, smoking. Also, 8 antibiotic courses later, I still had sinus infection. He explained I was given weak meds and finally gave me something that did clear it up. On a side not, his consultation was quoted at 250. When he finished examining me and giving me meds, he charged me £580 without prior warning. OUCH! But he sorted me out!
So, about dealing with anxiety. Let me start by saying, I was a substance abuser who had quit cold turkey and never returned. So as to be expected, I was reluctant to take any drugs and would have never taken valium or other pills. However, the pain of the slip-disc was so hardcore that I did use valium and later xanax which was proscribed by my doc in CY to take only when very stressed, as he understood that all these events had really stressed me out. My GP here tried to give me heavy anti-depressants as if my spinal prob and consequential siatica were imaginary, dispite my MRI records.
I do NOT suggest taking xanax and drugs and especially not without supervision as not everyone has my strong will and I have seen it become an evil addiction to others. However, in my case, it really helped. A few weeks of help in feeling relaxed, sleeping well, being confident and laughing again, I soon was able to kick them totally and return to my normal self. It didn't happen over night (it must be done gradually and with caution) and it does need serious will-power but for me, it really helped. Discuss with your doctor. If you know you have become anxious and may have a form of anxiety such as GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) maybe it will help you too. Needless to say I do not take anything any more. it has now been half a year that I am myself. The DIARRHOEA related point, is that for the first time in 2 years almost, I had normal bowel movements.
Also, keep in mind that your GP does the bare minimum. You need to demand tests. I was never tested for Vit D (something standard in Cyprus) until I demanded that every single vitamin n mineral level was checked. I never had my sinus investigated even though in Cyprus when you say I have facial pressure and nasal blockage, it is the first reaction. My back was never checked even though it is common medical knowledge that nerve pain in the leg (sciatic) is a result of back injury. I complained of heart burn and the obvious reflux was not explored... 16 doctors in total! They all suggested that I have too many symptoms so they assume you are an anxiety sufferer. Point is I did become one. For the first time ever in my life, BECAUSE I did not know what was wrong with me; not because I have a mental disorder! The unknown brings fear. fear makes you anxious and anxiety can bring anything and everything else. Like Shelly says, ignore it all. Live life well. Avoid people who stress you and stop chasing doctors. or go to a real specialist and part with the necessary amount of money - it is your health!!!
To Shelly and other of a similar nature, try playing around with different foods. Generally, clean healthy boring basic foods help. Smoking does not (my final battle there). Drink does not.
We are all different and will respond differently but here are two dishes that always have good results the following day:
- Home made burger *
- Roast chicken**
- Gammon roast***
*90% lean (very important) mince beef, lots of long leaf lettuce (Romanian or Greek, not iceberg), some gherkin, fresh onion and plenty beetroot. I know the latter sounds horrid but it is fabulous. I decided to recreate a burger from a childhood joint. my woman thought it sounded disgusting. She LOVE it and I do too. I was meant to provide a loose stool sample the next day but could not because it had sorted it out. problem is, I can't eat it every darn day. I make many burgers of all forms but this is healthy and very tasty. Shape the mince into a burger. No egg, no added bread! NO MIXES! Just your minced beef some salt and pepper, shaped into a burger. Once all is cooked and ready, slap in a bun and add a hint of ketchup.
** It needn't be bland:
Chicken: Use spices and herbs you know you are ok with. I sprinkle some oil over it and give it a full body massage. I then pour salt, pepper, chilly powder, cayenne pepper and paprika and rub it evenly over again. Then I do the same with oregano. Cook at about 200c until skin is crispy. Pierce breast with toothpick to check. If clear juice pours out, you are good to go.
Potatoes: Cut into very small cubes (max 2x2x2 cm). Boil them until they can be pierced with fork (don't overcook). then drain the pot leaving them in there. sprinkle salt and if you have, semolina. Then hold the lid shut and rattle the pot gently until the potato edges have been gently damaged (lightly mashed). Now put your cubes (that have slightly crushed edges into an oven pan that has oil sprinkled about. Sprinkle some more oil and chuck in some rosemary if you have any and maybe a sprinkle of pepper. bake at a high temp (220c) in middle of oven for about 20 mins or until crispy - some ovens need much longer, like my crappy thing.
*** Get yourself a gammon joint (for £5-7 you can get one that feeds 4 normal ppl or 2 persons with my appetite). If it is smoked, boil for 20-30 mins to remove some salt (unless you like that which I do). Pour honey all over the piece. Stick some pineapple slices if you have, with tooth pics so that it is dressed over. I use 2 pics per slice, so my roast has them all round and over. Cook for on high fire 200-220 (depending on oven). After about 25 mins take out and dress with honey again. Then back in for another 15 or 20 mins. Keep an eye on it. i like it more pinkish and juicy as opposed to paler and dryer. it is a matter of taste.
I HOPE THIS HELPS... it helps me but is not a permanent solution. Your diet is a useful tool though...