Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Anxiety, Hypochondria & Apiphobia, Oh My!

It’s amazing how people don’t take you seriously once they know that you have anxiety disorder of some sort, especially doctors. It then becomes a matter of ‘maybe it’s just in her head’ type of thing and while that very well may be the case, they dismiss a lot of things that shouldn’t be overlooked. Yesterday I had an appointment with the allergist. The past couple of years I have been experiencing many reactions from certain foods and products. I experience “physical” side effects, such as bleeding blisters inside my mouth if I eat shrimp, bananas, mangos, berries, apples and sometimes avocados. Sometimes I’m able to eat them, and other times I develop these awful reactions. In recent days, I developed lip and mouth swelling from eating fresh water fish. Nuts and seeds gives me an asthma-like symptom. So all of these foods, which are healthy are out of my diet, leaving me to eat other things that may be not so good for my waistline. I used to love eating cereal with berries or a banana and a nice piece salmon filet or tilapia with white wine sauce, but now, it’s either steak, burgers or if I need to go healthy, a salad. Even then, I have to be careful with tomatoes because they sometimes burn my mouth. A friend said to me the other day, “Well, as we get older, sometimes we can’t tolerate the foods we once used to eat.” My question is: do I have to eat the “bad” food in order to avoid the good ones? It doesn’t seem fair. Our Friday night sushi outing has been turned into Chinese takeout at home. I’m literally afraid to eat at new restaurants. So from fresh fish to greasy Chinese food - my scale hasn’t been the best of friends with me. And on top of that, I can't even enjoy the outdoors without having an over-the-top freak out session when a bee comes into my comfort zone. It doesn't even have to be on me or around me - I just run. It's not a normal or healthy reaction. I am deathly afraid of bees. The thought of a bee possibly killing you with one sting is enough for me to run like a bat outa' hell when I see one.

After much research online, I finally gave up and made an appointment with the allergist. As soon as he heard that I had anxiety disorder, he gave me one of those looks like, “Oh no, not one of these types of patients”, and proceeded to enter into his computer all of my symptoms. The nurse came in and performed a breathing test where I had to take a huge gigantic breath, and with all my power, blow it into the machine as hard as I can until I literally see stars, and then suck it right back up as hard as I can. Let me tell ya - if you ever run out of alcohol, it’s the best alternative. Then she shoved an inhaler full of Albuterol. She took ten tubes of blood from me, which included tests for allergens such as: peanuts, latex/shellfish, different types of fruit and bee venom. Usually they give all the allergy skin graphs to see what pops up on your arm, but they only gave me a few. The doctor told me that I was a ‘high risk patient’ and he didn’t want to see a major emergency in his office, so he wanted to look at the blood first and then proceed with the skin graphs next week. He’s literally going to puncture me with five different species of bee venom. “You’re in a controlled environment, don’t worry. I'm even going to make you eat a shrimp dinner in front of me. You’ll be walking out of here just fine. However, in rare cases we do have medical equipment and staff to help out with any emergencies. ...But it’s rare, trust me.” “Trust me” sounded like, “We’re preparing for your funeral.”

Here’s the most embarrassing part of my visit: Madelene was sneezing and hacking up a lung while she was with me. The doctor was more concerned about her deviated septum than my anxiety over allergies. Each sneeze, the doctor would stop what he was doing with me and ask her a series of questions regarding her usage of nasal sprays and whatnot. I should have left her in the waiting room, but but but, because of my heightened anxiety, I made her tag along with me like a big mother hen just in case I started having some over-the-top reaction from something. (As if she would be able to help.) Then as Madelene went on her tenth sneeze in a row, I heard a ton of laughter over near the receptionist area by the entire staff. One of the nurses swung by the office door and said, “Are you sure you shouldn’t be the patient?” So, needless to say, Mad took my air time and spotlight.

Then the doctor turned to her and asked, “Does your Deb snore at night?” And before she could answer, he interrupts with, “Tell me the truth, she can’t attack you in here.” She looks at me, then looks at him and says, “Well, a very very light purr.” He stared at her for a moment. “A purr, eh?” Then he asked, “Does she stop breathing at night.” Once again, she looks at me and then looks at him. “Well, she wakes up with anxiety attacks.” Then he looks at me and asked, “What happens when you wake up?” So I told him, “I gasp for air.” --- “Ah ha!” he said, as though that was the exact answer he was looking for. So his bet is that I’m not allergic to one goddamn thing, but I did come there for a very important reason: sleep apnea. My sex life is over if I have to start wearing one of those CPAP masks. After the testing proves I’m negative for all, he wants to give me a sleeping test. If the tests to prove negative for all, I can then finally live my life without fear. I can finally go outside and not fear bees. I can finally eat healthy foods again and possibly shed a few pounds. It’s been a rough couple of years with all of these stupid ‘thought-to-be’ allergies (or perhaps real ones), so I’m anticipating negative results with a life well lived.

Then I get this message from Facebook. It’s an application called, “Messages From God”. Sometimes they’re really inspiring, and other times, it’s like some bizarre fortune cookie. This morning it says, “We believe God wants you to know that your body speaks the truth. When in doubt, ignore the thoughts in your mind and pay attention to your body - it doesn’t lie.” ---But does it lie when you have anxiety disorder and hypochondria?

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com