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The Hypochondriac and his Stomach Bloating
For those who don't know what "hypochondriac" means, this is referring to specific individuals who make too big of a deal out of their "health concerns". These individuals are best described as being neurotic, in the medical sense of course. Interestingly, they happen at times to people who most would unlikely suspect to be of such traits. While it is important to take care of one's health, there is still a difference between plain worrying and trying to find a solution.
A recent patient visited just a few days ago complaining of bloating discomfort in his belly. It's been almost a month now. It seemed to have happened after he over-ate one day at a friend's place. At the time of consultation he was extremely unstable. I could see his mind wandering away and losing control as he kept complaining about his stomach, life, and health. There were words of dejection, depression and general hopelessness, despite a problem that to me would be the least of concern.
He had already undergone 2 imaging tests for his stomach and nothing remarkable was found. And he had already taken another practitioner's Chinese Herbal Medicine to no avail either. Apparently he believes this is cancer, so he's also scheduled himself for another gastric endoscopy. I reassured him the chances are slim as your problem came on suddenly, and not to think too much or over-worry. I made it very blunt---"it seems you want your worst nightmare to come true despite what reality may suggest. Do you really want to have cancer? I don't understand why you're making such a big fuss!"
After a while of communication and efforts in attempting to allay his fears, he seemed more calmed down. I told him, "patients don't die of disease, they die of over-thinking and over-worrying about disease. They think themselves to death, as the Chinese put it. In a way, a person's destiny really is of his/her own making." He quickly replied, "that's what I feel like right now!"
From the assessment, it was revealed that he's eating less and less due to the uncomfortable bloating that's essentially 24/7. During consultation he frequently massaged his own stomach, as his face cringed and frowned in agony. His bowels have also become irregular, and as he remarked, was of course the case since he ate little. But from my assessment that's only partly the case, as there was some unsmooth peristalsis going on, leading to incomplete evacuation. I gave him 3 days of herbal medicine and told him this should help alleviate the bloating discomfort. I finally said, "don't think about anything and everything, just take your medicine. Over-thinking won't make things any better."
A few days later I did a follow-up to see how he was. Interestingly, there was a 360 degree difference in his tone. "Yeah I feel better now, maybe it was because I over-worried, leading to my problem", in a much more relaxed tone he said. "I went to see the psychiatrist, he told me my hormones are out of whack, that's why I'm feeling the way I am," he added. Go figure.
The conclusion: the herbs alleviated his discomfort THEN he felt more calmed down, not the other way around. Even as a health-care professional, it is difficult to understand patients' mentality at times. This patient obviously needs further treatment.