Monday, May 13, 2013

OCD and self-doubts about health



I had another appointment with my orthopedic doctor on Friday and received a mix of good and bad news.
The good news is that the bone fracture in my foot has healed more since my last visit a month ago.
The bad news is that I still need to wear the orthopedic boot or a fracture shoe for another month.
The doctor showed Larry and me the X-rays. Some of the fracture is “smoothed over” and none of the jagged teeth that first appeared on the X-rays are visible.
But part of the fracture still looks, in Larry’s words, “like a Pac Man figure’s open mouth.”
The foot still hurts some when I’m not in the boot, aches at night if I’ve been on my feet for a long time. And it’s tender to the pressure the doctor puts on it.
Those symptoms helped the doctor determine that the best recommendation is to stay in the boot. I can try the lower fracture shoe, but if the foot hurts while wearing that, I’m to go back to the boot.
He thought it would heal completely as long as I listened to my body.

And then the doubts came.

An orthopedic boot is a great conversation piece. People I don’t even know will ask me why I’m wearing it.
Some will tell me their own stories of being in a boot. Some will talk about being in one for a matter of weeks.
I’ve been in one for over two months, part of that time on crutches.
People who I see often seem amazed that I’m still wearing it.
“You’re still in that boot? How much longer do you have to wear it?”
And at work, I get the impression—and it could be all in my imagination—that my co-workers wish I would get out of the boot already.
I can’t do certain assignments because of my foot. I can’t walk long distances to take photos at large events. My driving is limited. I’m working my regular schedule of 32 hours a week, but there are limitations on what I can do.

So in the doctor’s office Friday, all these thoughts came crowding in and I started to doubt myself. I asked myself questions such as, Does it hurt enough to warrant the boot? Was I exaggerating how much it hurt? Was I giving a false impression to my doctor?
I don’t have anxiety that I’m sicker than anyone else thinks I am. I have anxiety about giving the impression that I’m sicker than I really am.
One of the reasons I wanted Larry with me when the doctor talked to me was so that he could be a witness to what the doctor said and what his concerns were. I didn’t trust just myself.
Towards the end of my visit, I finally asked the doctor some of the questions that I had: was it unusual for it to take so long to heal? Was it unusual to still hurt? Was it strange for me to still be in a boot?
Absolutely not, said the doctor. If it had healed totally in two months, THAT would have been unusual, he said.
I told him that some other people were surprised that I had been in the boot for so long. He said if my fracture had occurred in a different part of my foot, they would be right. But this is a Jones fracture, he reminded me. And this type of fracture can take a long time to heal.

Later, I remembered what he had said about listening to my body.
Having OCD, I don’t always trust my interpretation of what my body is telling me. I wonder about how much pain is “enough” to warrant concern. I wonder if I’m sick “enough” to call for the care of a doctor. I wonder if I’m worth all this fuss.
I want to be certain. And I can’t.

Deep inside, I know my foot needs the boot. I know I feel pain. It’s just the OCD creeping in, causing me to doubt myself. It’s just me listening to others instead of to my body and to my doctor.
I’m not going to let those doubts compromise my health. I will just live with them. Eventually, the accompanying anxiety will dissipate.
And eventually, I will get out of this boot.

Do you ever have doubts about the seriousness of a health problem you have?

32 comments:

  1. Hi Tina, all in good time. It sounds as if things are progressing, perhaps not as quickly as you (or others would like), but things are progressing. Don't worry what others think. Now I should take this advice for myself as well! As far as my health goes, I am more concerned about my mental health than my physical health. I know that my mental health has a strong impact on my physical health. Being a highly sensitive person I am always struggling to see things are they are...and not as I think they are. Great post.

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    1. Thank you, Linda. I struggle with that also--to see things as they are and not what I imagine them to be. And yes, mental health can have such an effect on physical health, can't it?

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  2. YES!! Tina, you are most certainly "worth all this fuss". Some wounds require more specialized and lengthy care for healing... and I'm not talking about just the physical wounds either. Emotional and mental "wounds" can also be very debilitating and painful.

    You are an amazing inspiring woman, who in the face of a myriad of struggles constantly work hard... reaching and striving for healing. Hang in there, you *are* progressing towards healing, and that's the most important thing to always remember!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words, Becky. I appreciate them. I think of you as a very strong woman, also, who keeps on going and pushing on--and progressing towards healing.

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  3. Better safe than sorry Tina -- others' impressions of your health be darned. :)

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    1. Thank you, Nancy. I needed to hear that! :-)

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  4. Oh I'm sorry you're having to wear the boot longer. Hopefully your coworkers are just feeling bad you have to wear the boot, and not really wishing you need to be out of it!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. I hope so too. I tend to try to mind read, and that's not a good idea.

      I so want to take a long walk free of this boot!

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  5. I think the fatc that the doctor said it's not at all unusual;, and that it would be unusual if it HAD healed already, really says it all. Sometimes we overthink things...it's human nature. We always worry about how we're percieved by others and we end up worrying more about the thoughts of others that our very own thoughts. I hope you continue to heal and it's good that it's progressing!

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    1. Thank you for your wise perspective, Keith. I tend to overthink--for sure.

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  6. Oh you listen to your Dr. and your body do not let your thoughts take over you are going to get through this and be running around soon with a healthy foot. If you listen to the doubts and others you will have problems down the road take the advice from someone who knows. Take care and do not listen to others who do not understand. I think you rock that boot girl:) Hug B

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    1. Thank you, Buttons. That means a lot coming from the one who rocks those Pink Cadillac boots! I will listen to my doctor and my body. I want to get well--sooner rather than later!

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  7. I'm glad the doc reassured you and I'm glad your husband was there to hear it too and be a comfort and support to you.

    I often am like this with health. I have major issues with health anxiety and whether or not pain is "real" or am I "making it up"-- even when I had a foot injury that felt like I was walking on broken glass, my OCD kept telling me I was making a big deal out of nothing and I was fine.

    I also have the opposite end of the spectrum where I'll "feel" something on my left side and inwardly freak out that I'm having a heart attack.

    Yes, OCD definitely distorts my perceptions of health, pain, illness etc. It even distorts my OCD-- sometimes I even have to ask my therapist if I really have OCD or if I'm making it up. He will always tell me that they very fact that I'm doubting that I have the doubting diseases shows that I have the doubting disease :-)

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    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. It's amazing how the doubting disease makes us doubt such strange things! You use a good word--"distorts"--OCD does distort our thinking, and we have to overcome that, sometimes incident by incident.

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  8. Tina, I also sometimes wonder if my pain warrants a visit to the doctor, or if it's not really as "bad" as I think it is, and I don't have OCD! Pain is really so subjective so that makes it even more confusing and complicated, I think. Once again, I'm reminded that what your OCD makes you think isn't really different than what a lot of people without the disorder would think.....it's just that the thoughts and feelings that come with it are more intense for those with OCD.

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    1. Janet, you make an excellent point. And really, if OCD is a more intense form of many of the same thoughts and feelings others have, it should be easier for us to understand each other.

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  9. I broke my wrist in line skating once. It was pretty scary seeing my wrist contorted like a monster. We were about 7 miles from our car and my friend called an ambulence. I didn't have anything to do with it and was just happy for help and a ride. One of my co-workers later made fun of me for taking it. Geez, I just couldn't believe someone would be so rude. I'll never forget that.

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    1. Oh, Sharon, that was terribly rude of your co-worker. And it showed a real lack of understanding. I can imagine that would be very scary, to see your wrist looking so contorted. And it must have been painful. I'm glad you got the help you needed, and I hope it healed quickly. And thank you for your comment.

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  10. So sorry the OCD is playing up once again Tina.
    But if I understand it right you are at least half way there.
    I hope the pain will go away soon and that the time will pass quickly. You are so strong, if there is anyone who can do this it's you!

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    1. Thank you, Klaaske. You are such a kind person. Yes, the healing is progressing. And I try to remind myself that this is a temporary situation--it will get better.

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  11. Hello! Very nice blog and interesting posts, great atmosphere.
      Have a nice day. :)
    Welcome to our blog about photography. +
    I hope you also enjoy it with us.

    Greetings!

    "Do what you love is not even that, but anyway"

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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  12. Oh all the time, Tina!!!! Ugh, those very same thoughts have gone through my head so many, many times. I sometimes even think I'm faking my OCD! It's certainly a yucky feeling.

    I hope your doubts go away soon and that you take however long you need to get better. Hugs.

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    1. Thank you, Sunny, I appreciate it. The word "yucky" describes OCD feelings very well!

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  13. glad the doctor was able to reassure you.

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    1. Thanks, Tex. He was very helpful and a good listener.

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  14. it always seems darkest just before sunrise!!

    and when that boot comes off, you are going to appreciate life, more then you ever did!!

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    1. Thanks, Debbie. I believe you! I will not take for granted my ability to walk easily from one place to another.

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  15. I struggle with knowing when to get help, too. Or worrying about how well I express myself. Your comment, "I wonder if I’m worth all this fuss," made me think, probably depression and OCD get together to cause us this trouble. Low self-esteem combined with OCD doubt, what a great combination. It seems funny to me in the end, after recognizing all the uncertainty OCD is careful to find, to go back to trusting my gut instinct, trusting how I feel. But it sure seems like it is often the correct answer.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Abigail. You make a really good point about depression and OCD working together. I agree.

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  16. I'm glad you are healing at the right pace. I wouldn't give a second thought to what anyone else thought...slow and steady will make your foot heal correctly.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Terri. I have let go of some of my worry about what others think.

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