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Forum Name: Gastroenterology Topics

Question: latrophobia with stomach pain and lump in northeast alabama


 bama1 - Fri May 01, 2009 12:48 am

I live in northeast alabama. For the past year I have been hurting in my stomach right below the sternum. Pretty severe when I wake up in the morning but better when I get up. It is now hurting more lower and I can feel a bulge when i cough to the right of my belly button. It is not unbearable but obvious. I am 32 and terrified of doctors. I never go and don't even have a doctor. I have been trying to work through this because I think this is probably something that needs treatment. I start panicking when i pull into the parking lot. My heart starts racing and my legs turn to rubber. I shake badly and feel faint. There have been times when I was pretty sick but would not go. My family and friends tell me it's okay and that it isn't so bad but I can't get my mind and body to cope with this. Is there doctors out there that are specially for this type of patient. I know needles terrify me but it is more than that. I can't understand it and I know it is irrational and very embarrassing.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri May 08, 2009 10:50 pm

User avatar Hello there --

First, please don't feel alone in your iatrophobia; it is pretty common. It is important, though, to work through this, and especially right now, which if it serves no other purpose, may help you do just that.

I do feel there's something going on that needs attention. It's difficult to guess (and unwise, too) at a distance and without the ability to at least know the results of a hands-on exam. Epigastric pain (pain in the area you describe) is often due to gastritis (inflamed stomach lining) or an actual ulcer. These do tend to be worse in the morning upon rising and often improve after eating. This is one possibility and while it's not generally serious, if left alone it can become serious or at least very limiting and disruptive. Then it may be something else, and the other things need to be ruled out as well. They would include gynecological issues and possibly even some problem with the small intestine. All these things are not good to have, and can in some cases become pretty serious if left alone. It's definitely not okay to just let it run its course, as things that last this long do not tend to resolve on their own. The only really intrusive thing you'd be likely to have to deal with initially would be a blood test, and as an accomplished phlebotomist I can tell you this doesn't have to be a big deal, but it also takes an empathic person to put a patient at ease. You'll have to do some inner work yourself to help yourself learn to be still for this, and you do need to be seen. Once you've got over the threshold you'll begin to feel better, which is true of many phobias: getting there is way more than half the horror. The actual doing becomes remarkably simple once you've committed yourself to the thing. Just like flying, which was my bugbear for many years -- and now something I love to do, and generally fall asleep soon as the plane's at crusing altitude. So it definitely can be done.

Given your location in notheast Alabama, you're actually close to some pretty good medical centers in three states, so that's not a problem and could be a big advantage if only because the larger and more accomplished centers generally are more sensitive to the phobic and anxious patient.

I hope this has been helpful to you. Please follow up with us here as needed, and don't hesitate to look to us for encouragement and support in getting yourself in to be helped. With any luck at all this will wind up being a fairly simple medical problem and maybe a breakthrough for you in terms of your fear of medical settings. I certainly hope so on both counts. Good luck to you and please keep us updated.

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