Gastroscopy timeline (educational but not so fun)

Oversharing warning!!!

Description of an unpleasant medical procedure on a health anxiety sufferer – Get out now while you still can and go read about puppies instead!

Ever wondered what it’s like to have a camera down your throat? Well, it’s about as fun as you imagine it to be, but it’s not painful, and it’s not deadly and even a freakshow like me can go through with it whilst conscious…so…I reckon pretty much anyone can do it.

Here’s my timeline:

T-6 hours, breakfast and 1mg diazepam 

T-2 hours, last water plus 2mg diazepam

T-1 hour, leave for the hospital

T,  taken for blood pressure and pulse check 

T+45 mins, still browsing the oatmeal for amusing distractions, wishing i’d taken more valium

T+50 mins, taken to the theatre

T+55 mins given lidocaine throat spray and description of what will happen, seriously wishing i’d taken more valium.

T+60 mins, mouth guard in, tube in, and around 4 mins of weirdness and wretching while I hyperventilated and set off the heartrate alarm and the consultant took a video and three biopsies. I wasn’t allowed to watch the screen while they did it 😦 

T+65 mins, breathing and heartrate returning back to normal, results explained (stomach polyps, no sign of reflux), and released home.

T+4 hours, unnecessary irrational concern that the sudden rise in heart rate might have caused damage. 

T+13 hours, wake up overheated, wander around looking for thermometer in case I have a deadly fever. Cant find one, go back to sleep because it’s probably just the valium wearing off. 

T+18 hours, eat breakfast but discover mild vague stomach soreness and consider perforation, cancel horse riding, even though it’s probably muscular pain from the wretching.

T+20 hours, order myself a cute handbag as a reward for being so brave yesterday

T+24 hours, observe dull heartburny chest discomfort that I worry is either my heart or some esophageal tear. Take gaviscon, it gets better.

T+30 hours, starting to get a grip because I’m not displaying any dangerous symptoms…still checkimg temperature and avoiding exertion :/


I’m intrigued as to the biopsy results but expect them to be normal..Someone could have told me they were going to check for celiac because I’ve been gluten free for over a month! I also anticipate another day or so of vague discomfort while my insides heal from the bruising and the little fleshy chunks they cut out. Lets be honest here through, even if these mild and largely non-worrysome symptoms don’t improve overnight I’ll still be on the phone for some medical reassurance as soon and the department opens tomorrow! I like to get my money’s worth out of the NHS!

Phew! What an adventure. I’m glad I did it, but I’m not voulenteering for another any time soon. I highly recommend the sedative that I declined this time. If there’s a next time I want to be out cold (as long as I can control my tube pulling-out reflex).

Facing the dragon and staring at it for a few seconds before running away

As you know. A few weeks back I proferred some uninvited information for my therapist…it was three major incidents that have affected my health anxiety, a list of health problems that I am terrified that I have or will get, and a list of things that anxiety stops me from doing. The final list was pretty depressing, spanning from driving to dining out to exercising to travelling and maintaining relationships. We are talking some pretty major areas of one’s life there.
Have I told you I didn’t used to be this boring? When I didn’t think I was dying the whole time I could even be a bit fun every now and then. Imagine that!

Anyway enough about that. I want to talk about how cbt is shaping up. Having given this information, my therapist made a formulation… That is a flow diagram showing the vicious cycles that involve being triggered until automatic negative thoughts, having inappropriate cognative and behavioral responses as well as extreme emotional responses, that all feed back into the negative thoughts. You don’t need to know what weird shit I do when I get panicky, but what you should know is that the idea is to gradually stop relying on those unhelpful or inappropriate coping mechanisms by considering an alternative to the doom and gloom, end of the universe, deadly premonition that happens with every sniffle. For me, the downside are that you have to replace the negative responses with something else and therefore I have to be less harsh with myself, which feels unnatural and frankly trite after years of constantly telling myself that I’m a worthless piece of crap and that everything is my fault. I’ve got to the point where I’m so damned negative that I complain about everything and find it quite uncomfortable to even compliment someone else, let alone myself! That’s fucked up because people can be awesome and they deserve to know it.

Anyway, now I have to try and stop doing so much weird shit when I get worried, and focus on something else, cos I spend about 99% of my time thinking about me me me and as I’m not even that interesting, I think you’ll agree that’s a tragic waste of my time. I could be thinking about something more productive like banjo-playing unicorns.

In addition, I’ve been told I need to start exposing myself to things that make me anxious, like to start with, cleaning chemicals, and more strenuous exercise. That’s this week’s task. So far I cycled to and from work a bit faster than usual and I have to say I do feel like I achieved something. My heartrate increased, I sweated a bit and I got a bit of a sore throat, I got that weird pulsing in my eyes (does anyone else get that or is it just my bizarro physiology?) but I didn’t pass out when I stopped and I didn’t wake up the next day having dropped a stone of weight. Triumph. Unfortunately another source of anxiety popped up from under the rocks when my boss told me in no uncertain terms that I was NOT to make mistakes in the future (regarding a minor typo in an email). Because I am a robot without fat fingers, yes? Ugh. No pressure then!

I’m beginning to warm to this therapist after our rocky start. Possibly because she chose to work with what I voulenteered as I thought it was the most important stuff. She’s offered to give some information for my partner to read about my erm condition, so he knows how best to support me (I.e. constantly telling me I’m lazy and to just get on with things like a normal person may not be the best tact)…lets see how that goes down. I’m already worrying about the approaching therapist abandonment.

Laboring through the inevitable fear

The end started its approach on Monday, it didn’t take long to pick up momentum, waves of sticky and infectious anticipation slamming relentlessly into me. That was when I first realised that I’m dying.

I feel my heart atrophy, burning into ischaemia after every cup of coffee, every sip of wine,
Each faltering beat convulsed with another gripping stab in my chest that is far too severe and rhythmic to be heartburn.

A narrow escape lets me see Tuesday.

Just when I think the coast is clear, I feel my chest implode and I can’t breathe, some heavy cinch has grasped me tight, and the blood rushes faster as I struggle to inhale, shoulders to my ears but lowering won’t help me, aren’t you listening to me? I can’t damned well breathe!!!

A fluke recovery meant Wednesday rose to met me.

But in Wednesday’s maw is a terrible fate. Into a small cut that I obtained, leapt staphylococcus and streptococcus. They swim from that cut right up to my brain! Lending headaches and feverish ranting as my grey matter becomes violently colonised.

I don’t know how I survived that meningococcal experience, but Thursday knocked on my door nonetheless.

The sun rises with a stab in my thigh, a throbbing ache that portents of a clot. Perhaps I didn’t move all night, and as I rub to test if it’s muscular, the clot detaches and heads for my lungs.  shortness of breath is quick to follow, accompanied by dizziness and all things severe, but once the worst of the embolism is passed, I get out of bed and cycle my weary self to work.

Friday approaches with a rash in tow and infact on my toe, but I’ve had enough. I’ve already had two strokes, five ulcers, two brain haemorrhages, pneumonia and toxic shock this month, No-one can be expected to die every day of the working week. I’ll resign from the Billy Witch council, I’ll join health anxiety anonymous, I’ll write poems in strawberry shampoo, paint a platypus on my knee, whatever you want, just fucking get me off this adrenalin-sapping horror show!

Maybe let me Google that rash first though first, just in case…..

In my head I’m always the doomed one

I’m special. On this occasion I do unequivocally mean in the special needs sense. In the sense that I’m often crippled by fears that real but extremely rare and life-threatening situations will happen to me.

The problem is that I am somehow convinced that I am special, but in the worst ways possible.

Let me give you an example. So, you know how for there is about a 1 in  a million chance of getting toxic shock in the UK, with ~50% of those associated  with using tampons, well I spent very many years of believing that I would be that one, that I was terrified of using them. 

You know how there is around a 1 in 2000 chance that someone will have an anaphylaxis response to penicillins, well, you can see what is coming next can’t you? Yep, I have spent years being terrified of taking antibiotics in case they cause anaphylaxis.

I know how stupid and pathetic all this is, but there’s got to be someone out there who gets meningitis, toxic shock, anaphylaxis and cancer…so why wouldn’t it be me?

Because of statistics.

Because of common sense.

Because of context.

Some days I really wish someone would lobotomise me so I didn’t have to stress through these ridiculous scenarios.

Needless to say neither tampons nor penicillins have killed me yet. The panic about taking penicillins though was pretty intense. Don’t do that kids, don’t assume you are going to be the unlucky one, don’t waste your time giving yourself worse symptoms that the thing you are afraid of will either. It’s just dumb. Hear that brain? It’s stupid, so cut it out!

“Is there a powder to erase this?
Is it dissolvable and tasteless?
You can’t imagine how I hate this”~the national, graceless

Another round with health anxiety


I wonder if I’m addicted to….antihistamines? I’m going to tell myself that actually I need them because of all the pollen and dust and spores around here and that I have no problem at all, I mean, it’s not like I only sleep like a rock after taking an antihistamine or anything…or that the humble ceririzine functions as a cure for most hypochondria…
Speaking of which, I haven’t decided with any conviction, that I am dying of something for some time. With the dubious exception of the high blood pressure that I made my Dr check (100/60) huh?! While I should have been asking her about continual use of antihistamines and how soon after diazepam you can have a beer. She said eat more salt. Can you imagine being told to eat MORE salt by your Dr? Well I don’t need to be told twice 🙂 and so begins the era of much marmite and cheese.
As the time of travel draws near I expect the usual symptoms to manifest, but I won’t let it all get to me unless it can’t be fixed with the foolproof combo of antihistamine, diazepam, Paracetamol and gaviscon. I think I might be singlehandedly supporting the production of gaviscon these days, and all so that I can drink coffee and alcohol. Is it worth it? What do you think?
Speaking of alcohol, I have had some weird experiences with it over the last couple of years, to the point that I’ve almost stopped drinking. You might think this is a good thing, but the reason wasn’t because I didn’t feel like it, but because I developed a (perfectly rational) fear that I’d get crippling stomach cramps, bad headaches and get dizzy to the point of fainting. So every time I had a sip of cider, I freaked, felt dizzy and got more scared. I’ve got tablets for my delicate tummy (though I’d NEVER drink with full-on gastritis) paracetamol for the next day and now I know my BP is low, presumably that’s why I get dizzy, so I just need to eat something salty, dance around (this might raise a few scholarly eyebrows) and drink plenty of water and I’ll be fine 🙂 I can’t freak out because there’s no diazepam until the next day. I’ll be landed on a beach of my own creation, but hopefully someone will join me and talk utter nonsense with me until the (hopefully hidden) anxiety or anticipation thereof subsides.

I think my Hypochondria has got a lot better since I started to accept that one day I’m going to die, and there is nothing I can do about it. I’ll be pissed if I die before I get to present my conference poster (its getting really pretty now) but if that’s my fate then I can’t really argue. I’m not worried about flying, I’m only worried about the other passengers infecting me with unpleasant and unwelcome agents. I guess I’d better refrain from catching people’s coughs, sniffing people’s hair and licking the seatbelts then, huh? What other in-flight entertainment IS there?
Antiviral hand foam at the ready!!

So I let Crazy
take a spin
Then I let Crazy
settle in
Kicked off my shoes
Shut reason out”~tori amos, crazy