Nerves are good. Nerves keep you on your toes. Nerves get the adrenaline flowing and allow you to perform at your best. That’s the theory at least.

Nerves can however waste your energy and negatively impact on you. I’ve wasted a lot of energy on nerves in the past. Nerves at the usual situations a young fella encounters growing up. Moving schools, moving to Belgium, playing big football matches, going on first dates; I’ve wasted time and energy getting nervous before all these things and plenty more besides. I was nervous before my Leaving Certificate exams and I was incredibly nervous the night before my first driving test, which is why I failed.

I never considered myself to be anxious person though. Up until relatively recently I wouldn’t have struggled with nerves any worse than butterflies in my stomach. If you are not nervous then there is the risk of taking a situation for granted and not getting the outcome you’re hoping for.

There wasn’t one situation in particular when my nervousness became anxiety but it has built up slowly through all the changes I’ve gone through over the past number of years. For a time now the smallest of issues, the smallest decisions have led to anxiety and worse still panic attacks. This has come on gradually but I’m beginning to feel like I’m moving back in the opposite direction a little, or at least I was until today that is.

This time next week I’ll be preparing for another trip to hospital. Absolutely nothing unusual there for anyone with a rheumatologic condition. And due to the inflammatory nature of my situation there’s always another system or organ that needs examining. The problem is the anxiety is building ahead of next week already.

I’m going in for a colonoscopy next week. I’ve had one before and maybe that’s where the anxiety is coming from. I know what to expect. What’s more I know what I’ll have to go through to (sorry) get to the bottom of things. Visits to doctors have been going on an upward trend recently and especially since I got out of hospital late last year. But I am worried about what this procedure will unearth.

Anyone who has had this scope done will know what the night before requires. For those of you who haven’t, I’ll try to keep this as succinct as possible. In order for the camera to get a clear view of what is going on within the gut the lining needs to be clearly visible. And in order for that to be possible a cleansing must take place the night before. This is most definitely an individual pursuit of little movement, patience and drinking a disgusting solution. As I say, I know what to expect and I’m almost as anxious about the night before as I am about the procedure itself and what might be discovered. The vital word in that sentence is ‘almost’.  

It’s 18 months since my previous scope and the reasons for the scope are even more compelling this time. The symptoms and problems I’m experiencing are at least 10 times as bad this time. I have my mothers exaggeration skills but things are a lot worse. Eighteen months ago the scope uncovered Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). As opposed to irritable bowel syndrome which can at times be treated through dietary changes, my IBD requires medication. For a time this medication worked and kept my symptoms under control but that stopped being the case about 6/8 months ago.

The anxiety I’m feeling stems from the fact that IBD was discovered the last time but my experience at the moment leads me to believe the circumstances have got worse. Is it the case that I just need stronger medication or a change in medication? That is certainly possible and the most likely result but there is a little part of my brain which is beginning to shout louder and force me to hear what I’m trying to avoid. What if there is something worse going on? What if? What if? What if?

I wasted energy before an FAI Cup match years ago through nerves and had a stinker of a game. I have first-hand experience of allowing my thoughts and worries impact negatively. Therefore I’m attempting to keep myself in the moment and not get anxious about next week. If something new is found I’ll deal with it but until then I want to get on with the day-to-day. Anxiety and stress could be making my IBD worse so I have to try to control myself and stay calm.

I have to try because right now I’m brickin’ it and that’s not a good use of my energy.

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