Cardiophobia is defined as an anxiety disorder of persons characterized by repeated complaints of chest pain, heart palpitations, and other somatic sensations accompanied by fears of having a heart attack and of dying. Persons with cardiophobia focus attention on their heart when experiencing stress and arousal, perceive its function in a phobic manner, and continue to believe that they suffer from an organic heart problem despite repeated negative medical tests. In order to reduce anxiety, they seek continuous reassurance, make excessive use of medical facilities, and avoid activities believed to elicit symptoms. The relationship of cardiophobia to illness phobia, health anxiety, and panic disorder is discussed.
I had no idea. Did you even know this was a thing?? (edited to add that personally, I don’t actually make “excessive” use of medical facilities…but I do think about how often I go to the doctor and I think about how it would be to go to the doctor every time I felt health or heart anxiety)
I did a bad thing and I googled something semi-medical. I googled “I am afraid of exercise.” And lo and behold, there are people out there just like me, who are afraid of exercising because of cardiophobia. There are other reasons for fearing exercise, but I was mostly focused on the cardiophobia because that’s my issue. Cardiophobia is the main culprit of my health anxiety, although these days I do have some mild cancer recurrence fears, too. By the way, I survived my google espisode and I REALLY only looked at cardiophobia postings…I did not stray or fall down any medical google rabbit holes. Go me.
I had my appointment with my cardiologist this morning. I have mentioned this before, I believe, but I like this man because he’s non-judgemental about my weight and talks bluntly yet kindly when we meet. He listens to what I’m saying before starting in on any exam. He even listened to me when I said I was afraid to exercise because of my heart, and that I was working on it in therapy. He did an EKG which came out fine, then said we hadn’t done a stress test in many years (not since I first saw him probably in 2012 or 2011)…and he said we could do it right away if I was amenable. I said yes, of course, because no time like the present. The stress test was with an EKG and blood pressure cuff hooked up to me, but no echocardiogram like Hub had a week or two ago. The nurse said they only do echocardiograms when there’s a potential structural defect, which the doctor was not concerned about.
The stress test was hard for me. At one point, the BP cuff was so tight (I hate when it starts to tighten, stops, then starts again like it’s starting over…) that my entire right arm from cuff down to my fingers was beet red. I told the tech that the cuff was way tight and she reset it. But those stress tests make you go fast and at an incline on the treadmill and that’s hard. It was already hot in the room and I’m pretty heat intolerant. When they went from high speed and full incline to cool down, I got woozy and I told them. The nurse said that happens and it’ll go away, which is kind of did. Except for the fact that I am having a lot of imbalance issues (like being on a boat rocking up and down) these days, so it didn’t fully go away.
They unhooked me and gave me a cup of water, then the nurse left to consult with the doctor. When she came back, she said they saw no blockages and no abnormalities on the test results, so I was free to go home. Hub was waiting in the waiting room and he helped me out to the car because I still felt overheated and wobbly.
Do I feel better? I’m not entirely sure. But at the very least, when I go in to see T on Friday and we start working on my specific health and exercise anxiety, at least I can say that I was cleared by the cardiologist. Unfortunately, I’m dealing with heartburn again, which had mostly been under control up until about two weeks ago (a lot of this pain is probably the heartburn crap, which I think started out “silently” and is now just getting worse and worse. I’m going to get back onto my digestive enzyme regimen, with the exception of having to find a new digestive enzyme pill because the previous stuff I was using had to be purchased through a practitioner and the nutritionist I was seeing for it refuses to respond to any of my inquiries. I think she’s pissed that I stopped coming in for appointments.
Anyhoo, I’m cleared by the cardiologist. I go in to see T on Friday for hypnotherapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. NLP’s creators claim a connection between the neurological processes (neuro-), language (linguistic) and behavioral patterns learned through experience (programming), and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life. Apparently NLP is something that hypnotherapists can try to use to help along with the hypnosis. I don’t know squat about it, but we’ll see how things go.
I’ve already had one hypnotherapy session, just an induction where she wanted to see if I could go into a hypnotic state. We tried again on the last session, but I was so mired in grief that I basically burst into tears mid-hypnosis and that was the end of that.
I’ll talk about hypnotherapy in another post soon.
Hub and I started and stopped acupuncture, but are planning to start it again because we both felt it was somewhat helpful for certain issues. We were supposed to start again this week, but my cardiology appointment screwed that up. Hopefully next week.
There’s today’s update.