How I Balance Advocating For Myself as a Patient with Avoiding Hypochondria

(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and none of this is meant to provide medical advice. This is just my personal experience.)

I struggle with being my own patient advocate and not being a hypochondriac. I know that having OCD means that I have a tendency to catastrophize and this includes imagining worst-case possible illnesses or medical situations. I know when I’m at my most mentally ill that I can see an aneurysm instead of a migraine or some other catastrophic illness in a simple flu or cold.

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Secondary Pain: Trying to Avoid Pain But Causing Other Pain

I spend a lot of my time lying down. One of the things I love about working from home is being able to work lying down. I also relax lying down. The existence of laptops means that I can literally work with my computer on my lap every day. Sitting or standing for too long triggers pain throughout my back. Often sitting and working at a desk makes my upper back (between my shoulders) scream and shout—I feel deep stabbing pain and long-drawn-out soreness. Standing too long triggers my lower back and makes it ache and ache.

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My Surgery Story

I was talking to a new doctor the other day: explaining my surgical history. You see, I’ve had the same surgery twice. I first had reconstructive surgery when I was thirteen years old. My spine was an S-curve: both curves around 85-90 degrees. My right lung was collapsing and my heart was being squeezed. I had to have surgery to stay alive. I was and still am grateful to my surgeon.

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