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What the hell has happened to me!?

It's not been a good few months for me.

Something has gone terribly wrong with my health, both mentally and physically.  I am so confused and frustrated and angry and lost and helpless.  It's not even close to being funny, regardless of how much I try and joke about this situation.  And it feels like my health is getting worse, and my doctor(s) seem unconcerned by it.

I currently have no energy, it takes me a while to recover from even minimal exercise, muscle pains, joint pains (noisy too!), shaky arms hands, stiff neck, headache/migraine, pain/pressure on nerve under cheekbone, facial twitching, abdominal pain, heart palpatations, chest pain, and more.  Tons of tests have been run on me.  All have come back normal.

So they've diagnosed me with somatic symptom disorder, anxiety, and possibly depression.

Somatic symptom disorder is basically a way of saying, "We can't find any cause for your symptoms, and thus an emotional problem must be causing the physical symptoms, and you're worrying too much about it."  It's an unscientific diagnosis and a dangerous one:  There's this story of a woman who died because she had lung cancer but was misdiagnosed as having somatic symptom disorder.  "While I was both anxious and depressed, this was due to the increasingly disabling symptoms that my doctor kept insisting were purely psychological."

I don't know if I have somatic symptom disorder, but it feels like a cop-out.  And defintely not something a family doctor should diagnose.

I do have anxiety.  But that's brand new.

From I read, it's rare for someone over 40 to suddenly develop anxiety unless they have depression or a physical ailment that causes anxiety.  I ended up in the ER three times because of chest and arm pains.  All heart tests were fine.  And for the ER, that's enough to send you home.  Saw my primary doctor as soon as I could, but he was no help.  I eventually asked some online doctors, one of which suggested it was all anxiety.  Primary doctor gave me a short test and said I scored pretty high.  Of course I did, I was defintely anxious about the physical symptoms I was having!

I'm defintely open to the idea that anxiety is causing a lot of my symptoms.  Checking out this (exhaustive) list of physical symptoms of anxiety, nearly every symptom I've had is on there, except an elevated tempurature and an extremely bad reaction to antibiotics.  So I'm working on treating my anxiety, with meditation, deep breathing, dark chocolate, and a Xanax if it gets bad.

"Many of the anxiety disorders can be traced to childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood. Therefore, be suspicious of symptoms that emerge later in life."  Anxiety is also a symptom of some medical conditions:  Hormonal problems, infectious diseases, vitamin/mineral deficiencies (B12 and magnesium in particular), environmental toxins, drug use/withdrawl, tumors, and Wilson's disease.

I don't think I have depression.  Neither did my psychologist.  But when I told my primary doctor that I was having crying episodes similar to psuedobulbar affect (crying uncontrollably without the emotion to cause it), he immediately offered to prescribe me Celexa

I'm mainly writing this to clear my mind, not so much for sympathy.  I do appreciate talking with people, as my close friends and family are all too aware.  I just need to stop thinking about it so much and see if that helps me get better.

What do I think I have?  Since my symptoms began a few days after visiting a lake with a large tick poulation, it's possible I have some tick-borne diease.  But that's a whole other can of worms.

  • egnor

    I’m so sorry to hear about that! The emotional load of chronic health problems is very real. I hope you’re able to find some progress, or at least find some caregivers that are less maddening and feel more like partners in a quest for answers.

    It’s a brave step to talk about this kind of thing in public; for all the progress we’ve made, emotional issues and mental health are still difficult to discuss. And, I dare say, very badly handled by much of the MD establishment.

    • gotskott

      Thank you, Dan! Trust me, I don’t feel brave. :)

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  • I sure hope this gets diagnosed (and cured!) soon. It sounds like this gets pretty awful to deal with.

    • gotskott

      You and me both, Larry! Thank, my friend.

  • Justin Graham

    Scott, I’m really sorry that you’re going through all this It sounds terrible. I don’t know you well, nor do I know anything about your specific medical issues other than what you’ve posted, but as an infectious disease specialist I’ve seen a number of patients with chronic somatic complaints seeking answers. It’s my belief that these are real problems (not just “in the head”) and that they lead to real suffering. I also suspect they are the consequence of an out of control neurohormonal or autoinflammatory process triggered by a relatively minor infection. So most testing won’t show any sign of infection (which, in fact, is long gone by the time you start feeling lousy) and most of our other medical tests aren’t sensitive enough to detect anything unusual. I guess you should take comfort in the fact that the medical tests you have undergone have not shown anything worrisome. If I were you, I’d do what you are doing — focus on symptomatic improvement (meditation, chocolate, meds if they help) and try to endure. In my experience these symptoms eventually go away on their own, although it can take a while. Hang in there — the puzzle community is behind you.

    • gotskott

      Thanks so much for your reply and advice, Justin. I was just about to email my doctor and ask for a referral to an infectious disease specialist when I saw your post… what are your rates? 😉

      You’ve given me some leads and some real hope. You have no idea how much that means to me. (My wife says thank you too!)

      It is kind of nice knowing that, on paper at least, I’m relatively healthy. Still undergoing testing and will be seeing a psychiatrist, though. I’m just concerned – maybe overly-concerned, admittedly – that there is something that’s being missed.

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