Saturday, September 21, 2013

Doctors Can be Anxious Too

Doctors can be anxious too.  I have assumed that I am always the anxious one, and most other people are calm.  A month ago I went to see my family doctor about some body pain, and she gave me some medicine and told me to call her the next week to check in.  When I did, and I wasn't 100% better, she said to make a specialist appointment just in case it still wasn't gone the next week.  When I checked in again, and told her that my specialist appointment was October 21, she freaked out and said that was completely unacceptable, and I needed to be seen in the next 2 weeks.  This in turn ratcheted up my anxiety!  She also ordered a test for an ailment that would manifest pain in a different location, "just in case I had an atypical presentation."

My husband said, "Your doctor is anxious.  I don't know if that is good for you."  What we decided to do was have him do a search for treatment guidelines, rather than have me search, which is my primary compulsion with health anxiety.  I felt blessed to have someone who would help me get more information, but who would stop long before I would ever feel "done" if I was searching myself.

I got an earlier appointment with the specialist, who said the medicine hadn't had enough time to work, and that we could set aside the test for the unlikely ailment.  She did schedule a different test for October, but it was one my husband had found as the next step in the diagnosis process.

It's been a long week, with a dental appointment and a gynecology annual exam.  Preventive healthcare is important, but my OCD gets all stirred up.  Not to mention that I still don't feel good.  The challenge is to keep doing things important to me, even if I don't feel 100% or know what's wrong with 100% certainty.  Maybe my family doctor is right, and I have something unusual going on.  Maybe it's just that I live in a malpractice prone part of the country.  Maybe she lost someone to a disease and she never wants to lose someone again.


  1. I had a specialist get over-precautions on me once. I finally went to the same kind of specialist but in a different group of facilities, and he was much more laid back. Of course, it all hinged on my mild anemia which swung between being almost fine and being slightly worse. Depending on where in the swing it was, I suppose Doctors had reason to be more or less concerned. Part of me, though, didn't even want to know if I had a serious disease, and I was depressed enough then that a shorter life didn't seem so bad. In the end, I suppose I could still have some dormant disease hiding in me, but I seem to be doing fine (and I'm okay with having a longer life now).

    I never had any pain with my anemia, though. I hope your pain get's better soon. And that is really neat that your husband would do the internet research for you so that OCD couldn't score a victory there.

  2. I think this is a great observation on your part. I once had a doctor who was WAY over protective when it came to running tests. She was test crazy and I realized this was not helpful for my physical or emotional help, so I moved on to another doc. Ended up being a great decision. Now I get tests when they seem warranted, but not at the littlest sign of every "off" thing. Doctors are people too.

  3. Doctors certainly have different styles of treating patients and I think everyone has to find the right fit for themselves. Hope you feel better soon!

  4. Hope you feel better soon! When a doctor seems more concerned than usual, that increases my anxiety, too.

    I went to my family doctor recently about some swelling my arm. He ordered an EKG and a chest X-ray, which really surprised me. I saw my orthopedic doctor a week later, who diagnosed me with tennis elbow. Probably didn't really need the EKG and the X-ray.

  5. I think your observation that "doctors can be anxious, too" is fascinating. Like you mentioned, I always assume that I'M the anxious one and that most other people are far calmer. I, too, have experienced anxious doctors and other professionals, and looking back I am able to see their recommendations as potentially compulsive or as based in their own anxieties. It's funny to think that, with all our battles with OCD, we may be more readily able to recognize their compulsivity than they can. (Then again, maybe they are aware of it themselves and are even in treatment currently). I'm willing to bet that often those around us are anxious far more than we realize, but it's not always easy to recognize when we ourselves are experiencing anxiety.

    Good for you for avoiding compulsions! It sounds like you've faced a lot of triggers recently. I hope you feel better soon!