Trust your body

I came across a letter from August 2020 written to my wonderful psychiatrist M that was stored in phone notes. I’m not sure if we ended up actually sending it to her or not but upon re reading it I’m deeply saddened by just how much we didn’t trust our mind or our body.

I keep thinking and telling people that this cancer snuck up on us, that we had no family history we are in our mid 30’s and there were zero warning signs until BAM! Suddenly we are told we have metastatic bowel cancer.

But it really didn’t sneak up on us as much as we thought, the signs were there the whole time, we just didn’t believe what our body was telling us enough to listen to them and speak to a doctor for fear of being dismissed or even ridiculed.

Bad past experiences with being dismissed by medical professionals had left us feeling stupid and unable to trust our own body.

I have put the rather long winded letter below for anyone who might be interested or relate in some way. There’s lots of TMI body stuff ahead, so a big warning for those who get grossed out!

Dear M,

Can I ask you a stupid medical question? I’ll presume you reluctantly agreed and will continue below, if not you can roll your eyes, delete this long winded email and I’ll never need to know.

As previously mentioned we seem to have every symptom of endometriosis and have thusly assumed that is the case while avoiding any invasive techniques to prove or disprove because it’s just worse than death to consider and theoretically if it responds to treatment then that’s the important thing, right?

So the suspected Endo has been getting significantly worse over the last few months, what was only crossing from discomfort to pain during a period is now lasting the full month, bowel movements are excruciating and the bloating is putting us at about the 5months pregnant look and a 8.5 month pregnant feel – we are living on a neurofen/Panadol/Ponstan combination (the only thing in that combo that seems to actually help is the neurofen).

We have gained some delightful bladder symptoms including intermittent numbness that means we can’t feel we need to wee until the stomach pain signals its a possibility and when we do go we can’t feel it come out, only hear it hit the water and I constantly feel like there’s a bowling ball lodged in my pelvis. (You know when you’re pregnant with the 1st baby and it’s head engages? That sensation.)

A weird new thing I noticed recently has been when I push gently on my lower abdomen pelvic area (painful) there’s an odd shaped lump fist sized ish but not round that seems to move away – kinda exactly like it feels when you poke at a baby… I have to sleep with a pillow between my legs to be comfortable enough to get to sleep and I wake up sore during the night once the neurofen wears off.

Definitely NOT pregnant. Heavy regular periods, haven’t had sex in months, Hubby had a vasectomy anyway. Don’t believe in immaculate conception. Not possible.

And here’s where the psychiatry question comes in…

Is it possible to have a phantom pregnancy even when you are 100% certain in the knowledge that there is zero chance of a pregnancy occurring?
I know that’s a thing dogs get but when I googled it it suggested that it was people who really wanted to get pregnant (Hell. No.)

But like, could it be an alter I don’t know psychologically influencing the body into thinking it’s pregnant on some odd subconscious level despite still getting regular extremely heavy periods and making our abdomen lumpy and bloated (like a blighted ovum style situation that never resolved only there was never a fertilised egg to begin with?)
That’s like, not a thing, right?

Alternatively, can you feel the bowel at surface level pubic area? Could it just be some coincidental faecal matter travelling through?
I feel crazy (more so) but the pain and discomfort factor is also less and less tolerable each day. I know it’s nothing compared to what other people deal with but frankly I’m just too tired, physically and emotionally to cope.

At night when there are no distractions and the pain is bad it’s almost tempting to go to the hospital and yet there’s nothing they can do anyway because the fear of invasive testing is more intolerable than the pain and anaesthesia for testing is out of the question from an emotional perspective not to mention the fear of going through that ordeal only to likely be told it’s all in our imagination is… well, I don’t think it would be survivable.
We don’t cope well with humiliation.”

Well done if you got through all of that, I guess the point I’m trying to hammer home here is that having a mental illness doesn’t exclude you from having physical illnesses. Sounds obvious enough but even though I knew that intellectually, I still didn’t trust my mind enough to believe what my body was screaming at me.

Thankfully at some point my Psychiatrist had recommended an excellent GP whom we eventually had a phone consultation with about this issue. She threw all of our expectations out the door by not only believing us but ordering a CT scan and booking the appointment as urgent without even physically examining us. If we hadn’t of had that scan that quickly there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be here to write this now.

So if you’re having physical health problems then it’s important to have your symptoms thoroughly checked out by a doctor and if they are being dismissive because you have a history of anxiety then find a different doctor or fight for your right to be taken seriously, you deserve it and it just might save your life.

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