I never used to be like this…anxiety and chronic illness


I think I have a chest cold. I was woken by sharp, stabbing pain in the night, chest pain.  It only hurts on deep breaths now, but last night the pain was constant, first sharp and then squeezing and any breath hurt.  I had to sit up and was awake for over an hour waiting for it to subside.  Any pain that wakes you from medicated sleep is severe pain.

But it gets better as the day goes on.  I know in the past the docs refer to this as ‘pleuritic’ pain and it sux.  I tend to get pneumonia (albeit mild) on a regular basis, but this is different to my usual pattern.  It’s only left sided, and a deep breath is sharp and feels like a pulled muscle radiating around to my back.  But I’m sure its lungs, not heart.  There is also sharp pain when I cough.  My chest feels clear, apart from the deep breath pain.  There’s no wheezing or trouble getting air, just pain.

Usually, I wouldn’t worry about this at all.  I’ve had this many times, and I just make myself some chicken soup, dial down the cardio exercise for a few days and recover. It’s NOT serious. I know this. Logically.

But I’ve changed.  Since my post-op experience, I have become afraid.

I’m afraid of getting very sick. I’m even more afraid of hospitals.  Even though the chances of me winding up in hospital is zero, stone cold zero, I’m afraid.

I hate being afraid. I was never like this before.  Worrying is utterly pointless, I never used to spend a lot of time doing it.

But I don’t know what to do about my Actemra shot tomorrow. Usually, I’d just take the shot.  Now I’m afraid and worried and it stinks because I can’t make a decision.

If I have a chest infection and I take the Actemra, it will almost certainly get worse, and I’ll get sicker.  I can’t be sick this week. I have too much to do. I have to prep for the new carpet. I still have a week, but I’m slow. I am doing so much better, but I’m still nowhere near a normal person’s capacity.  And I will need the rest of the week to prepare for the reflooring of the house.

But Actemra is a miracle. If I don’t take the shot, I’ll backslide.  I’ll go back to crippling pain and I’ll be unable to prep this house for the carpet.

It’s a long weekend Monday and I can’t see a doc today.  And it’s certainly not ER worthy.  But even if I saw a doctor, I know what my GP would say. He’d say ‘your chest is clear, take the Actemra’.  Even though I’ve seen him before, with a clear chest exam, but the chest x-ray showed I had pneumonia.  Nothing is ever standard with me.

If I call my rheumatologist, the chances of her getting the message AND getting back to me inside a week are negligible.  But even if she did, I know she’d say skip the injection if you have a fever. Otherwise take it.

So I should take it.

Except I’m scared to. Scared that I will get sicker.

And I hate myself for looping around a pointless issue.  And I hate myself for having allowed one bad experience to deeply change me, and how I manage my illness.  For allowing that one experience to steal all my confidence. For turning me into a bundle of neuroses. This is NOT me. This is NOT who I want to be.

I feel feverish, but my temp is normal.  I am achey from yesterday’s gym workout, and my joint pain (except lumbar spine) is no worse than that muscle pain.  Mild. Controlled.  Miracle.  But I am exhausted.  Everywhere I look there is something that needs to be moved, cleaned or painted.  But I think I need to block that out and just…rest.  Rest everything. Rest mind and body.  Watch TV.  Make bracelets.  Sleep even.

I don’t have to make up my mind about Actemra until tomorrow.  I have to stop thinking about it.  But that’s easier said than done, when every breath hurts.



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