Avoiding anything medical for fear of death diagnosis.

Hi @Nano welcome to you.

I always had the sense of a fore-shortened future, partly practically (likely) with genetics. However, you actually did the very right thing- because as awful as that was/ is, there is one form of breast cancer that presents exactly that way, is very aggressive and difficult to treat. You received prompt appropriate care, and the best of news.

When I developed ( at least one) lump in my breast and discharge (2 colors, go figure!, one indicates cyst, one cancer) it was about 5 months after my sister had been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer in her 30's (one of many relatives). I figured I was either: a) psychosomatic and it was in my head, because of her diagnosis, and I felt guilty/ badly about it, and told no one btw or b) would find out eventually, and maybe I'd do better or worse without addressing it, if it was cancer?, I would see. That was 26 years ago and I'm still 'here', lol. So I'm pretty sure it likely isn't, and if it is (not likely) I've suffered through no treatments, either.

Needless to say I'm not advocating ignoring it, just keeping your head. I take care of many palliative people, and for the most part it's not so easy to die, and critical illnesses do not normally present as garden variety aches or pains. That being said, some very simply annoying symptoms/ things are hugely helpful to address, because they can catch things when they still can be turned around.

Don't feel badly- I remember a comedian with dark humour saying, "OMG, a lump on this side- quickly check the other side -> = matching lump. 'Great! I have cancer on both sides!!" 🙄 (Not minimizing your situation, btw, just saying the word should be renamed; and getting to the bottom of what is or isn't there can be helpful. In the most obvious way of accepting the fact that finding out the facts doesn't change them: if something's there, it can be dealt with. If it's a good bill of health, it's a good bill of health. What they say, doesn't change what is. It just clarifies what the next step will be. Which doesn't change you're alive now, this minute, and have been all the years you were sure you likely wouldn't be. That can show you those thoughts weren't accurate, too, no matter how 'certain' they felt 🤗 It's also likely the anxiety could make you more sick eventually than any illness or outcome you're worried about! ).
 
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siniang

MyPTSD Pro
What I find particularly difficult with this is that you can't really talk about this topic and your fears with anyone.

Doctors tend to be dismissive and otherwise it's generally considered very inconsiderate to actual sufferers.

There's also an immense amount of shame associated because logically one knows one's probably just being paranoid and it's probably just anxiety, but one still can't stop freaking.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
Anyone avoid doctors at all costs? Afraid they’re dying but can’t go get the diagnosis? Been like this for 40 years. Just realizing it is PTSD. I need help.
Work on fixing your PTSD. Bring this to your T. It's called catasrophizing. I should have a collection of gold medals in it.

Because my trauma happened in a hospital I have all the same crap. Your mind can come up with some awful stuff, you just need to learn it isn't true. All a diagnoses is is someone putting a name on what you have.

Your reactions are simple. When it touches near those painful memories everything turns to fight, flight, or freeze. More fight or flight reduces cognition and guess what? The memories within easy reach of the part of your brain that lights you up with fear are your strongest emotional memories. Not to mention your brain doesn't know the difference between whats real and whats imagined.

Get grounding. Learn grounding. If you need more help talk to your T.
 

Nano

New Here
Work on fixing your PTSD. Bring this to your T. It's called catasrophizing. I should have a collection of gold medals in it.

Because my trauma happened in a hospital I have all the same crap. Your mind can come up with some awful stuff, you just need to learn it isn't true. All a diagnoses is is someone putting a name on what you have.

Your reactions are simple. When it touches near those painful memories everything turns to fight, flight, or freeze. More fight or flight reduces cognition and guess what? The memories within easy reach of the part of your brain that lights you up with fear are your strongest emotional memories. Not to mention your brain doesn't know the difference between whats real and whats imagined.

Get grounding. Learn grounding. If you need more help talk to your T.
Wow thanks for your reply. How does the memory thing work? Which memories are the strongest emotional memories? Are they actual memories that I can see or just stuck in my psyche?
Im going to research grounding. Thank you!!
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
Wow thanks for your reply. How does the memory thing work? Which memories are the strongest emotional memories? Are they actual memories that I can see or just stuck in my psyche?
Im going to research grounding. Thank you!!
Actual memories. So its part of why PTSD is so good at screwing us up. When you have PTSD it changes how your brain works. In short, a normal adult brain sees things, and interprets how we should act, if you are being attacked or frightened it turns on the fight or flight response. In PTSD your brain skips the advanced processing and uses fight or flight to interpret your world.
Why I don't know, but our memories with the strongest emotions are stored in the fight or flight part of the brain. I can only guess that is to aid kick starting that response. Whatever the reason - its likely that's where your trauma memories are, because they are massively strong emotional memories.
Also note that some of those memories can be hidden. They hurt so bad that your mind locks them away. That's why I had no memory of my trauma for 45 years.
 

Nano

New Here
Wow thanks for your reply. How does the memory thing work? Which memories are the strongest emotional memories? Are they actual memories that I can see or just stuck in my psyche?
Im going to research grounding. Thank you!!
Actual memories. So its part of why PTSD is so good at screwing us up. When you have PTSD it changes how your brain works. In short, a normal adult brain sees things, and interprets how we should act, if you are being attacked or frightened it turns on the fight or flight response. In PTSD your brain skips the advanced processing and uses fight or flight to interpret your world.
Why I don't know, but our memories with the strongest emotions are stored in the fight or flight part of the brain. I can only guess that is to aid kick starting that response. Whatever the reason - its likely that's where your trauma memories are, because they are massively strong emotional memories.
Also note that some of those memories can be hidden. They hurt so bad that your mind locks them away. That's why I had no memory of my trauma for 45 years.
I really appreciate your explaining these things. It is fascinating and hits home with me. I have never been formally diagnosed but I’m certain I have PTSD. I’ve been treated for everything else. Basically the symptoms of PTSD. I’m going to try to find a therapist who can help me with this. I am actually encouraged I may get the right kind of help after 40 years. Thanks again!
 

Nano

New Here
It's a weird paradox and just really showcases how messed up anxiety brain really is.

If you have someting? "Normal" people would try to get it treated ASAP for improved chances of healing. Aka, if they're suspicious of something, they'd go seek help sooner rather than later.

Anxiety people keep pushing any and all doctor visits away because they already "know" the answer and they already "know" it's "too late anyways".

If at 19 you're that one outlier that gets breast cancer despite it *really* being f*cking unlikely... well, you're odds already aren't in your favor so why would they suddenly improve regarding the outcome (to pick up Corax's example).

I know for me, my mind is always playing probability mindgames with this. Normal people can usually be calmed down with statistics and "it's really really unlikely". My brain takes that and goes "Well, outliers exist, and someone has to be that outlier, and you've already dodged so many bullets, probability predicts that with each dodged bullet, the next one is *more* likely to hit. Because: Math".

Because it f*cking *does* happen to some people. Even if unlikely. It would be very arrogant to think it couldn't happen to *me*.

I've experienced something similar to you, CORAX. Not quite as dramatic as an actual positive test. But similar.

A few years ago I was really freaking out regarding ovarian cancer. I've been having pelvis... let's call them problems. Not really pain. But things consistently being 'just not quite right' for no otherwise apparent or sensible reason (random spotting, extremely unsually short periods, a sort of very localized pressure that did radiate into the back causing some pain...). 5 years ago I worked myself into my first freak out regarding this. Went to get an US that came back normal. Nothing. Nada.

Which really didn't help because I f*cking wasn't imagining my symptoms. But the gyn at that time was quite dismissive ('take an ibuprofen for the pain'). Anyways, I tried to push that fear into avoidance. The symptoms were coming and going, but not getting worse.

Fastforward to summer two years ago when they picked up again enough for me to work myself into another freak out. That's when I had that NP pick up on my anxiety and order another US despite there really not being any indication for ovarian cancer. At 31 I was way too young. No zero nada family history. No actual 'pain'. Nothing felt during the exam. But she noticed I wouldn't be calmed until I received another US, despite her really being convinced it being 'nothing'. In the health-insurance-messed-up USA, you don't usually get any tests unless there is proper suspicion.

Well. The US found a cyst after all. A small one. A probably benign one. But one the radiologist stilled recommended monitoring closely in shorter time intervals. Cue freak out 3. That morphed into complete avoidance. I didn't do any of the recommended followup USs. Not after 3 months. Not after 6 months. Certainly not after 12 months (for that one I can at least blame COVID, as our clinic was essentially shut down). No one actually prompted me to do them, which really didn't 'help'.

That is until a mere few weeks ago when I finally was able to get my annual physical, with particular focus on my continued and recently worsened fatigue. GP brought up that cyst they found two years ago and recommended re-checking. I hadn't really thought about that anymore. It's been two years, I still had those symptoms, they still haven't gotten worse, and I was still alive. So it probably wasn't cancer.... until the GP focused on reassesing it. Freak out 4.

Long story short, what's making it particularly difficult for me is that different doctors/nurses 'interpret' the same thing differently and go the 'everything is fine' route despite me clearly having symptoms so clearly *something* is not *fine*.

But when you come in as woman in her early 30s freaking out about potential ovarian cancer of all cancers and not being a risk group by any means (age, genetics, ...), it's really hard to be taken seriously. I'm still thankful for that NP two years ago, but at the same time I keep wondering whether I would've calmed down myself without the US and whether the US finding that cyst only made it worse...

What I'm trying to say is: anxiety brain is stupid. Really really stupid. But the resulting fear is real and debilitating nontheless.
I feel like I am so terrified of having a panic attack that I have to come to terms with a death diagnosis before the diagnosis so I will be able to handle it and not have a panic attack. I think I try to go through the steps until I get to acceptance but I can’t get to acceptance because if I do I will have a panic attack before that knowing the diagnosis. So I avoid getting diagnosed to avoid the panic. So I live between semi panic and full blown panic as my physical symptoms get worse.
I can’t find a therapist. Any advice on finding a T?
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
It's part of the 'sense of forshortened future' that is a common symptom for people with PTSD
yep. not going to the doctor when you think you need to is like driving around with the check engine light on. heres the worst part: you only get one light. It comes on with the first sign of trouble. After that, any further problems are just background and you don't get a brighter light or a flashing light or another light, you just have more problems and no further warning.
You may think "this is just stress related, I am not really having heart problems" when your personal light starts to warn you, and then silently, unseen and unfelt, you develop CHF but the signs are all just written off as being part of the stress your body was warning you about.
forshortend future or no, we all need to go see a doctor just like we would hire a good mechanic to reset the trouble light on our car. gonna need that car, don't want to walk to work, dont wanna be broken on the side of the road.....keep it all running!
 

Nano

New Here
yep. not going to the doctor when you think you need to is like driving around with the check engine light on. heres the worst part: you only get one light. It comes on with the first sign of trouble. After that, any further problems are just background and you don't get a brighter light or a flashing light or another light, you just have more problems and no further warning.
You may think "this is just stress related, I am not really having heart problems" when your personal light starts to warn you, and then silently, unseen and unfelt, you develop CHF but the signs are all just written off as being part of the stress your body was warning you about.
forshortend future or no, we all need to go see a doctor just like we would hire a good mechanic to reset the trouble light on our car. gonna need that car, don't want to walk to work, dont wanna be broken on the side of the road.....keep it all running!
Very true. But since I’ve waited 10 months the anxiety is through the roof.
But in a moment of clarity today I texted my dr and asked her to schedule the CT scan I have been avoiding. So next week. 😩

Hi there, I guess this is a bit captain obvious, but do you have a diagnose of PTSD?

I can relate to what you’re saying as I deliberately ignore medical problems until I’m forced to go to the ER or something, it’s quite inconsistent but I’m quite worried I’ll be told I’m gonna die. Generally when I manage to go I then stall before any further examination.

Worries like this can also be caused by Generalized Anxiety Disorder (which I have been diagnosed with too) and it’s often co-morbid of PTSD.

What I tend to do is to wait for a window and take an online appointment then tell a friend that I have this appointment and make me go. Now that I’m living alone this hasn’t really been possible (I find it bizarre to do that with my roommates), but writing here has helped me to check in what I’m supposed to do instead of just seeing a butterfly and invent some excuse as not to go.

But I think the best thing you could do is to go and see a therapist. These won’t tell you that you’re gonna die. You don’t need a diagnose. And they can help you with the avoidance.

I hope this helps.
I have never been formally diagnosed with PTSD. I’ve been on a mission for many many many years trying to figure out why my fears are so intense and why I avoid things to prevent panic attacks. What’s up with the panic attacks? I’m terrified of panic attacks.
My mom brought me to psych when I was 5. That was 55 years ago) Only got to go once cuz dad didn’t want to take us. The reason she took me was cuz I walked around crying believing my whole family was going to die and leave me alone.
I tend to relate with a lot I see on this site that I’m wondering if I do indeed have PYSD.
Looking for therapist currently. (Again)
 
@Nano 10 months isn't as long as you might feel, for a symptom (depends on what kind and the severity of it), except situations like heart, appencitis, sepsis, a rampant infection or a head injury should be checked immediately, as with cancer if you're lucky to catch it quicker, esp melanoma, pancreatic, lung or ovarian.

It doesn't work the way your mind might be telling you, or you see in movies, with a terminal diagnosis or condition. The truth is (like ptsd) most things can be managed (very well, even) but not cured. Doctors will be the 1st to tell you, "I'm not God" for time left, or, conversely "10 years ago", as was twice in my family. (There was much life packed in to those 10 years.)

With few exceptions, as @enough said if you have something that close to ending your life very soon, frequently there are several things very wrong and there's little choice in going or not going to the dr- either you're too ill to get there, or you're forced with no option.

(Not inferring your symtoms don't have a cause, just that the body is amazing and hugely complex. And if you have a panic attack, you'll get through it. But fwiw, it's more likely to be surreal and anti-climactic in the case of a severe diagnosis. And none of the drama seen in the movies. For most doctors their strong suit isn't empathetic delivery and it's never emotional, it's based on what are the options next.)

I say this with empathy, because I've got the opposite problem, no dr and feeling like a whiner or hypochondriac to go for anything short of what has a high likelihood of being critical or terminal.

Good for you, to book the test. It will be ok! And the exposure may eventually decrease your fear. Check your engine light flashing. They're the body shop. 🤗
 

Nano

New Here
@Nano 10 months isn't as long as you might feel, for a symptom (depends on what kind and the severity of it), except situations like heart, appencitis, sepsis, a rampant infection or a head injury should be checked immediately, as with cancer if you're lucky to catch it quicker, esp melanoma, pancreatic, lung or ovarian.

It doesn't work the way your mind might be telling you, or you see in movies, with a terminal diagnosis or condition. The truth is (like ptsd) most things can be managed (very well, even) but not cured. Doctors will be the 1st to tell you, "I'm not God" for time left, or, conversely "10 years ago", as was twice in my family. (There was much life packed in to those 10 years.)

With few exceptions, as @enough said if you have something that close to ending your life very soon, frequently there are several things very wrong and there's little choice in going or not going to the dr- either you're too ill to get there, or you're forced with no option.

(Not inferring your symtoms don't have a cause, just that the body is amazing and hugely complex. And if you have a panic attack, you'll get through it. But fwiw, it's more likely to be surreal and anti-climactic in the case of a severe diagnosis. And none of the drama seen in the movies. For most doctors their strong suit isn't empathetic delivery and it's never emotional, it's based on what are the options next.)

I say this with empathy, because I've got the opposite problem, no dr and feeling like a whiner or hypochondriac to go for anything short of what has a high likelihood of being critical or terminal.

Good for you, to book the test. It will be ok! And the exposure may eventually decrease your fear. Check your engine light flashing. They're the body shop. 🤗
Thank you Rosebud!
You’ve given me a few things to think about.i appreciate you trying to put things into perspective for me.
And especially thank you for the encouragement. It brought tears to my eyes.
Blessings

PS is the name Rosebud a reference to the movie Citizen Kane?
 
Yes, perspective is good! More often than in reverse it is something treatable and not life-threatening as in imminent death.

No, I never did see Citizen Kane! (Keep confusing it with the crazy one with the banjo- Deliverance- will be in my ear now! 🤣 )

I believe it will be ok, and we're here to get through it! 🤗
 
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