Anxiety & Doctor’s Visits

I can’t remember ever coming out of a doctor’s appointment feeling happy.  Right now, I am so glad and relieved.  I’ll try to keep the migraine/Excedrin caffeine induced rambling to a minimum.  I am going to attempt to document my journey with chronic migraine for myself, and if it if one person benefits from my experience, then it is totally worth it.

Last week I went to the neurologist, and on my way out, she ordered bloodwork.  I did the bloodwork the next day and anxiously awaited my results, prepare for weird results but expecting everything to be normal.  The results were normal, except my platelets were high, and MCV and MCH were low.  After going down the Google rabbit hole, the neurologists said I should follow up with my family doctor about the platelets.  Obviously, I know that google results are often the worst-case scenario, but I still needed to logic my way out of panicking.  The Google results showed that high platelets indicated cancer or a likelihood of developing cancer.  Keep in my mind, this was the same week as the anniversary of my mom’s passing from cancer.  The next day I had reasoned my out of panicking but was still googling possible causes.  I don’t have any odd physical symptoms other than the usual chronic migraine stuff.  For a few days, I was pretty sure I was anemic.  I was comparing the redness of my lower eyelid to pictures of those with anemia.  As I got ready for my appointment, I was nervous but not freaking out about something being horribly wrong.

I hate going to the doctor, and I have so much anxiety about it because of what I experienced with my mom.  I made an appointment with a doctor who I knew had a lot of experience.  I was prepared to wait an hour, I had audiobooks, snacks, water of course, and an actual book.  I think I waited for maybe five minutes.  The longest part of the visit was the medical assistant asking me about my medical history, current medications, flu shot, etc.  Am I the only one who spends at least a half-hour answering all the questions?

Let me just say that part of the reason why I hate going to the family doctor is that they screen for anxiety (which my responses always trigger the second of questions), and the entire appointment ends up being a lecture on therapy and anxiety medications.  This time I only answered yes to two questions (Do you feel anxious? & Do you get annoyed easily?).  I am so proud of how far I’ve come in managing my anxiety.  Thanks to @health_anxiety on Instagram.  The doctor seemed impressed when I told her how I am managing my anxiety.  Also, I told her about using Headspace to meditate, and she said that was great, and that’s the app they recommend to their patients.

It turns out my platelets were only slightly high.  A possible reason for the abnormal number is that I have chronic sinusitis, so my sinuses are always inflamed.  The doctor said just to be on the safe side, I should get my labs done again next month.  My platelets will probably come back high again, but not worry.  She’s also testing my iron levels to rule out anemia.  She definitively said, “you’re not anemic, but we will check anyway.”  Overall, she was happy and said that I look “right as rain which is a good thing.”

I was also concerned because my heart rate is always high when I get it checked.  It’s usually 130 or 140, and the nurse always says, “wow, that is so fast. Let me recheck it.”  The doctor checked my heart and lungs and said that my heart rate was lower than it was earlier.  I told her that my resting heart rate on my Apple Watch is 83, and she exclaimed: “Oh, you’re fine.” Just a reminder that anxiety presents as physical symptoms too.

Honestly, my biggest worry about going to the doctor is that they’ll somehow scold me for the weight that I’ve gained since switching preventive migraine meds.  Neither of the doctors I’ve seen recently have even mentioned it.  I thought that they would think that I didn’t care about my weight or that my health wasn’t important to me.  Truthfully, I do everything I can to be healthy, and I’ve realized that the number on the scale doesn’t correspond to how well you take care of yourself.  Even though I get migraines almost daily, I have never been healthier.

That saying “Your anxiety is lying to you” is so accurate.  The truth is that our anxiety isn’t logical.  Acknowledging that the anxiety isn’t our reality is so important.